Digital Tracking: ‘Kung Fu Panda 3’ Defeats All Newcomers Again

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

'Hail Caesar,' 'The Choice' to Lose
Courtesy of DreamWorks

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.

“Hail, Caesar!,” Universal
Moviepilot Prediction: $11 million

“Hail, Caesar!” is the brand new comedy from the beloved Coen brothers, with an all-star lineup led by George Clooney and Scarlett Johansson. The marketing for this classic Coen ensemble harks back to the golden age of Hollywood and has largely leaned on the enormous star power of the cast to drive interest. Social has tapped into the rabid Coen fanbase to amplify positive word of mouth from those fans who’ve already seen the movie. With a very healthy trailer count, “Hail, Caesar!” should be good for well over $10 million for the weekend.

“Pride & Prejudice & Zombies,” Sony
Moviepilot Prediction: $9 million

“Pride + Prejudice + Zombies” is exactly what it says on the tin! Marketing has focused on targeting younger audiences, giving them an alternative to catching the big game this weekend. FunnyOrDie produced a PSA featuring social influencers appealing for people to be kinder to our zombie friends, which the influencers also helped distribute. Director Burr Steers took part in a Twitter Q&A with Wattpad, and “PPZ” also partnered with Anna Todd and an expert zombie author on the platform to do a spin-off of “After – the #1 original story on Wattpad – titled ‘After + Zombies.’ This was a story released over five weeks (five chapters). Influencers like Anna Akana were also leveraged to create content around the movie and spread positive word of mouth. And finally today there is a “PPZ” Snapchat lens, which turns users into zombies! All told “PPZ” looks like it will be making off with a take just shy of $10 million.

The Choice,” Lionsgate
Moviepilot Prediction: $8 million

“The Choice” is the latest Nicholas Sparks movie looking to bring tears to the eyes of females old and young alike. The movie has built up a substantial presence on Instagram and used Flipagram photo-videos to appeal to younger audiences. Of course, author Sparks has put his considerable social weight behind the title, and leading man Benjamin Walker hosted his own Twitter video Q&A as well as joining Instagram especially to support the movie. “The Choice” should hit home with the Sparks fan base and take a tidy $8 million home.

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 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.