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.
“Ride Along 2,” Universal
Moviepilot Prediction: $44 million
“Ride Along 2” is set to have the honor of dethroning “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” from top spot this weekend. The original opened to $41.5 million two years ago and this sequel has a great chance of topping that this weekend. Ice Cube and Kevin Hart are once again the stars and it is their appeal that will draw in fans. The campaign has centered around the charismatic pair, who of course feature in every clip and trailer, as well as taking part in a Twitter Q&A and creating custom idents for content drops. With strong performance on Twitter and well-received trailers, we’d expect to see “Ride Along 2” come in with around $44 million for the three-day weekend.
“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi,” Paramount
Moviepilot Prediction: $18 million
“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi,” directed by Michael Bay, tells the story of a military operation in Libya shortly after 9/11. The marketing has focused on showcasing the true story and actual heroes of the event, with the “A hero is” campaign taking place all across social. #AHeroIs is intended to spark a global discussion about the greater idea of what exactly is a hero, what a hero does and what makes them who they are. With impressive trailer views and great search volume, “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” should come in with just short of $20 million for the weekend.
“Norm of the North,” Lionsgate
Moviepilot Prediction: $5 million
“Norm of the North” is the first animated title of the year, telling the story of the titular polar bear and his three lemming friends who are forced to leave their arctic home and make New York City their new home. The adorable animals have featured in a host of clips and .gifs across social, where the main focus has been winning over parents. “Norm” held Twitter parties with socialmoms and Mom Central to tap into those older audiences. Over the long weekend, “Norm” should be good for a take around $5 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.
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.