Digital Tracking: ‘Cinderella’ Set to Become the Belle of the Box Office Ball

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

Image Courtesy of Disney

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 should be at their peak.

Cinderella, Disney
Moviepilot Prediction: $58 million

“Cinderella,” the live-action version of the Disney classic, rushes into theaters this weekend sporting a coachload of brand partnerships and impressive social numbers in addition to an extensive offline campaign.

The “Cinderella” Tumblr page is particularly impressive, reaching younger audiences with a modern update on the tale. “Cinderella” also partnered with influential Tumblr users such as Katie Rogers to create content inspired by Cinderella’s dress, as well as popular social-media stars like Brent Rivera to create red-carpet content.

“Cinderella” has a robust social presence on Facebook with over 13.7 million Likes and 68 million Facebook video views on its trailers and clips (like this “shoe cam” at the premiere that drove millions of views): This is even higher than the YouTube view count of 49 million. Disney invited popular mommy bloggers for a special #CinderellaEvent with a screening and interviews of the cast and crew, as well as collaborating with YouTube influencer Jorge of realitychangers to surprise his daughters with a Cinderella-themed “Magical Surprise.”

On Twitter “Cinderella” is trailing a little behind last year’s “Maleficent,” which had over 300,000 Tweets on release and took $69.4 million over its first weekend. The “Cinderella” Instagram account is also faring well with nearly 68,000 followers, and the only metric that isn’t as high as you might expect is search, where films for older audiences and family-driven features usually excel: “Cinderella” has less than half of “Maleficent’s” 257,000 and is only slightly higher than Disney’s last feature, “Into the Woods,” which had 88,700 and made $31 million on release. Considering “Cinderella’s” strong metrics elsewhere, Disney’s princess should enchant the box office with around $60 million this weekend.

Run All Night, Warner Bros.
Moviepilot Prediction: $13 million

Liam Neeson continues to cement his legacy with “Run All Night,” which mines the genre Neeson has made his own since his re-birth in “Taken.” The third movie in the “Taken” franchise took a huge $39 million when it opened in January, burnishing Neeson’s crown as the king of the action-thriller.

“Run All Night” looks set for another strong start, tracking with “A Walk Among the Tombstones,” which started to $12.7 million –despite having a 50% lead in Twitter volume, “Run All Night” lags behind on search, suggesting a similar opening.

Tobias Bauckhage (@tbauckhage) is co-founder and CEO of moviepilot.com, a social-media-driven movie community reaching over 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 Sony, 20th Century Fox and A24.



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 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 grew 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 towards 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.