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Digital Tracking: ‘The Good Dinosaur’ to Enjoy a Thanksgiving Box Office Feast

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.

The Good Dinosaur,” Disney · Pixar
Moviepilot 5-day Prediction: $78 million

If you’ve got kids, the Thanksgiving weekend will at some point involve a trip to the cinema to catch Pixar’s latest “The Good Dinosaur”! (In between those reruns of “Frozen,” of course.) This is Pixar’s second original movie coming off the back of the wildly successful “Inside Out” earlier this year, and “Good Dinosaur” looks like a runaway number again.

As always with animated movies, promotion has concentrated on seeking out both younger audiences and parents, screening the movie for family bloggers and running activations like the #GoodDinoMeet with Instagram influencers like Andrew Kuttler. Kids have also been able to enjoy mobile games like “Dino Crossing,” which is a variation on childhood favorite “Frogger.”

“The Good Dinosaur” has racked up over 40,000 tweets and 50,000 searches this week, so it looks well placed to take the No. 1 spot. Over the course of the five-day weekend, we’d expect “The Good Dinosaur” to roar to a total around the $80 million mark.

Creed,” Warner
Moviepilot 5-day Prediction: $35 million

Creed” sees Sly Stallone return to mentor the progeny of his great adversary and friend, Apollo Creed. Although this is the seventh installment in the “Rocky” canon, the presence of up-and-coming star Michael B. Jordan in the lead role injects fresh blood into the franchise, giving the millennial audience their very own “Rocky,” as The New York Times puts it.

Marketing has embraced the fresh, modern feel, becoming the first film to partner with Twitter for a Promoted Moment. For 24 hours, “Creed” was able to pipe a range of content, from .gifs to trailers and fan tweets, into Twitter’s new Moments tab. Overall “Creed” has aligned itself strongly with sports content both offline and online, with Jordan taking over the Nike Jordan official Snapchat account and taking training sessions with young athletes at Jumpman HQ. Jordan has also been the focus of Buzzfeed branded content and popped up on the red carpet as popular Periscoper Jon Jacques live-streamed the event.

Marketing has naturally mined the rich seam of nostalgia the “Rocky” name provides, providing a “Timeline of Greatness” looking back over all the movies so far, and playing off the iconic title song for the movie’s soundtrack. Fight fans are also able to contribute their own choices to the official playlist on Spotify.

The campaign has not only looked to reach a wide audience but has concentrated on engaging people at a community level, from the junket held in Philadelphia to a tour unveiling specially designed “Creed” murals across the country from Chicago to Los Angeles, as well as an extensive screening program. Fans have been encouraged to share what they fight for on a daily basis with the Ifight4 mini-site and the best suggestions have been shared across official socials.

Impressive search and tweet volume suggests that “Creed” is heading for a nice victory this weekend. Earlier this year we saw “Southpaw” open to $16.7 million and “Creed” is tracking much more strongly on social, so we’d expect to see it take well over $30 million for the five-day weekend.

Victor Frankenstein,” 20th Century Fox
Moviepilot 5-day Prediction: $16 million

Victor Frankenstein” sees James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe come together to tell the story of Dr. Frankenstein and his loyal assistant, Igor. The pair’s magnetic chemistry is a huge pull for the movie; even their YouTube spots together are worth watching, especially when McAvoy urges viewers not to skip the ad in order to save Radcliffe from electrocution.

The classic tale tells of bringing the dead back to life — in the age of social media, it seems that what you may think is dead will never die! That is exactly the case for “Victor Frankenstein,” which offers fans the chance to “Resurrect Your MySpace” and bring their long-forgotten MySpace page back from the dead. Many a chilling thing can be found within! Fans can also stitch crazy photos of their favorite friends together using Franken-Friend. “Victor Frankenstein” also sponsored CryptTV’s series “Would you rather?” helping to reach the core horror audience on social.

“Victor Frankenstein” is entering a crowded marketplace but a pair of charismatic leading men and very good trailer performance should see it come to life this weekend for $15 million.

Tobias Bauckhage (@tbauckhage) is co-founder and CEO of moviepilot.com, a social-media-driven movie community reaching more than 29 million Facebook fans and 30 million monthly unique users. Based on community data, Moviepilot helps studios to optimize their social media campaigns, identifying, analyzing and activating the right audiences. The company works with studios like Focus Features, 20th Century Fox and A24.

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Appendix

Facebook fan (or like) numbers are a good indicator for fan awareness for a movie, even months before the 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 who 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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