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Digital Tracking: ‘The Martian’ Continues Box Office Ascent, Topping ‘Our Brand Is Crisis’

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.

Our Brand Is Crisis,” Warner Bros
Moviepilot Prediction: $6 million

“Our Brand Is Crisis” stars the delightful Sandra Bullock alongside Billy Bob Thornton in a politically themed dramedy. Nicely timed to arrive amidst the throes of the presidential debates, “Our Brand Is Crisis” will look to draw in older audiences, particularly females, off the back of Bullock’s popularity. She and her costar Thornton have been front and center in the marketing campaign, answering fan questions on Facebook and participating in Q&As on Twitter to engage with their core audience. That audience should turn out and see a weekend take around the $6 million mark.

Burnt,” Weinstein Co.
Moviepilot Prediction: $5 million

Bradley Cooper stars as a down-on-his-luck chef trying to get back on his feet. “Burnt” is trying to attract older cinemagoers with features with AOL and Entertainment Weekly. That demo is in great demand this weekend, courted by “The Martian,” which is holding strong at No. 1, and Bullock’s “Our Brand Is Crisis.” Last year, Jon Favreau’s “Chef” had a similar theme and hit $3 million weekend totals, so with roughly 50% more search activity and twice as many screens, “Burnt” should be good for at least a $5 million weekend.

“Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse,” Paramount
Moviepilot Prediction: $4 million

“Scouts Guide” is the latest movie following Paramount’s experimental release strategy, designed to increase income from home entertainment, which might well see a reduced take at the theatrical box office. “Scouts Guide” is targeting younger fans over Halloween weekend, and should have a good shot at reaching them as there’s not much out there for that demo this week. “Scouts Guide” has racked up an impressive 8 million YouTube views, which should see it take home $4 million for the weekend.

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 its 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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