Digital Tracking: There’s ‘No Escape’ From ‘Compton’s’ Box Office Supremacy

How Moviepilot sees this week’s wide releases shaping up on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google

Does digital data offer indicators that can be used to monitor marketing effectiveness and predict box office success even before awareness turns into intent? Moviepilot — which studies social data and box office trends — analyzes this weekend’s new movies across Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Google (the methodology behind the numbers is laid out in the appendix below) over the seven days leading up to their release, when marketing campaigns are at their peak.

 

No Escape,” The Weinstein Company
Moviepilot Prediction: $6 million

It’s a slow weekend at the box office, giving “Straight Outta Compton” an opportunity to rattle off a third straight No. 1 weekend. But carving into that stronghold (since its opening day Wednesday) is Weinstein’s “No Escape,” which brings a few decent digital metrics to the table. The action drama has relied on partnerships with band My Morning Jacket (an original song) and NASCAR driver Brett Moffitt (a sponsored car) to tap new entertainment verticals on social. For an older-skewing target audience, the Owen Wilson-starrer still totals almost 8 million YouTube views, besting “The November Man,” which bowed last year on the same August weekend to almost $8 million. But after a modest start over its Wednesday/Thursday open, “No Escape” could be lucky to escape the weekend with a three-day total of $6 million.

We Are Your Friends,” Warner Bros.
Moviepilot Prediction: $8.5 million

“Compton” will have company in the music scene at this weekend’s box office, as Zac Efron plays an up-and-coming DJ in drama “We Are Your Friends.” Channeling the film’s “Spring Breakers” feel was an image filter that changed your uploaded image into a euphoric, psychedelic collage. And #WAYF has made the Twitter rounds, particularly through the support of Zac Efron’s 11.1 million followers. YouTube numbers suggest fans have not only watched but enjoyed the trailer, with a 0.54% buzz score that tops both “That Awkward Moment” and “The Duff.” “Awkward Moment” rallied a stronger presence in the key Twitter metric (and a $8.7 million opening haul), but we still see the latest Efron entry rivaling that weekend performance with a mark of about $8.5 million.

War Room,” Sony Pictures
Moviepilot Prediction: $5 million

War Room” is the latest faith-based play in the marketplace, and a sneaky sleeper to challenge the new release competition. Let’s start with the grassroots Facebook push; the film’s 530,000+ likes top the weekend competition, including a pinned trailer that’s racked up an impressive 7.5 million views. That social push has helped book church outings across the country, and an additional 6+ million YouTube views puts this one into “Heaven Is For Real” territory, at least in video views. If not for a crucial lower Search count and a semi-limited 1,135 theater opening, we could see this one raking in even more. Still, don’t be shocked to see “War Room” creep up on the star-studded competition with a weekend gross of $5 million.

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Appendix

Facebook fan (or like) numbers are a good indicator for fan awareness for a movie, even months before release. For mainstream movies with younger target audiences, fan counts are particularly important. However, big fan numbers can be bought and movies with older target audiences typically have lower fan counts. Fan engagement measured by PTAT (People Talking About This) is a more precise but also a fickle indicator, heavily driven by content strategy and media spending. Both numbers are global and public-facing numbers from the official Facebook fanpage.

YouTube trailer counts are important for measuring early awareness about a movie. We track all English language original video content about the movie on YouTube, down to videos with 100 views, whether they are officially published by a studio or published unofficially by fans. The Buzz ratio looks at the percentage of unique viewers on YouTube that have “liked” a video and given it a “thumbs up.” Movies with over 40 million views are usually mainstream and set to dominate the box office, while titles drawing around 10 million indicate a more specific audience. If a movie does not have a solid number of trailer views on YouTube four weeks before its release, it is not promising news. But again, it is important to understand whether trailer views have been bought or have grown organically. These numbers are global and public-facing.

Twitter is a good real-time indicator of excitement and word of mouth coming closer to release or following bigger PR stunts. Mainstream, comedy and horror titles all perform particularly strongly on Twitter around release. We count all tweets over the period of the last seven days before release (Friday through Thursday) that include the movie’s title plus a number of search words, e.g. “movie” OR a list of movie-specific hashtags. The numbers are global, conducted using a Twitter API partner service.

Search is a solid indicator for intent moving toward release as people actively seek out titles that they are aware of and are thinking about seeing. Search is particularly significant for fan-driven franchises and family titles as parents look for information about films they may take their children to see. We look at the last seven days (Friday through Thursday) of global Wikipedia traffic as a conclusive proxy for Google Search volume. We have to consider that big simultaneous global releases tend to have higher search results compared to domestic releases.

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