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.
“Deadpool,” 20th Century Fox
Moviepilot Prediction: $78 million
Well wasn’t that the marketing campaign that just kept on giving? With a long lead, out-of-the-box creative and a star in Ryan Reynolds who went above and beyond to market the movie, “Deadpool” has whipped up a fury that will sweep away all newcomers (and maybe a bunch of box office records) over Presidents’ Day weekend.
The first “Deadpool” footage debuted to a rapturous crowd at Comic-Con, but the movie has cannily managed to transcend the fanboy core and generate wide appeal by pitching itself as a “comedy with a superhero in it” rather than being “that funny comic book movie.” While the OOH marketing has received widespread praise, digital has kept fans occupied with a hilarious Halloween spot, the “12 Days of Deadpool” over the holidays and a Snapchat filter on Superbowl (or “Superb Owl”) Sunday.
The only fly in the ointment could be the R-rating, but “Deadpool” has still drummed up enough interest to top the box office by a long chalk, and should be looking at a long weekend haul around $80 million.
“Zoolander 2,” Paramount
Moviepilot Prediction: $25 million
Ben Stiller is finally back again as Zoolander, 15 years after his cult character first appeared. Stiller announced the movie in style, highjacking French social media superinfluencer Jerome Jarre’s Snapchat channel, snatching his phone as Stiller stomped the catwalk of Paris fashion week in character alongside Owen Wilson’s Hansel.
The campaign has continued to blur reality, with Derek Zoolander appearing in character at fashion events, hosting his own episode of the 73 Rooms with Vogue, hosting the movie IG account as a model rather than filling in with movie images, and releasing a series of print ads which rival “Deadpool’s” in their wit. Other characters have also entered the real world with interviews and Instagram posts with genuine journalists and celebs.
“Zoolander” will likely be looking for older audiences since a good while has elapsed since the first installment, and should be good to get $25 million worth of couples out on Valentine’s Weekend.
“How To Be Single,” Warner Bros.
Moviepilot Prediction: $21 million
Picking up on this week’s Valentine’s and Snapchat-heavy theme comes “How To Be Single” from Warner Bros. Heavying up against younger female audiences, “How To Be Single” launched their official site on tumblr and partnered with MTV on the launch of their Snapchat channel this week, placing video ads among the content. The movie also has a Snapchat channel for release day Friday. While the other two new releases are going for older moviegoers, “How To Be Single” should satisfy younger audiences and clock up over $20 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.
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 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.