ByTobi Bauckhage, writer at Creators.co
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Tobi Bauckhage

Monday morning quarterback with a data look at last weekend's box office results

This Week: FURY, BOOK OF LIFE, THE BEST OF ME

We’re fascinated by data here at Moviepilot. And as passionate movie fans and former filmmakers, we’re also interested in box office numbers and the money side of the business. Talk around town is that traditional movie tracking is broken. With that in mind, we started to look at publicly available data on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Google Search - as well as the data we collect at Moviepilot - in order to have some fun with it and play “Moneyball” ourselves. Every Friday in our “Digital Tracking” column for Variety, we ask ourselves what digital data is telling us about how a movie will perform that following weekend. And every Monday right here on MP, we’ll be looking back on the weekend's wide releases to determine just how predictive our data was - what did we learn?

FURY, Sony

Moviepilot Prediction: $32 million

Boxoffice Mojo Prediction: $33 million

Boxoffice.com Prediction: $27 million

Final Scoreboard: $23.5 million

Quick Hit: Digital tracking suggests breakout but stiff competition and lower search play key role

X's and O's: Brad Pitt’s gritty war drama pulled in a respectable $23.5 million this weekend to win the box office prize. But with stellar social peripherals that hinted toward a $30m+ open, it’s time to dig deep and explore the key factors that held “Fury” back from a box office blow-up.

In our Friday “Digital Tracking” Column for Variety, we compared “Fury” to “Captain Phillips” and “The Monuments Men” - each covers wartime themes and is anchored by a major leading man. While those titles pulled in $25.7 million and $22 million respectively (right in line with “Fury”), we envisioned even greener pastures for this latest Oscar buzz war flick. “Fury” topped “Phillips” and “Monuments” across Facebook, Twitter, and Search, while crushing all takers in YouTube views (almost 25 million). Perhaps not drawing closer comparisons to “Lone Survivor” was the mistake. The Mark Wahlberg-starrer was a surprise hit with a $38 million wide opening after exciting limited results. When compared to “Fury” in terms of Google search - often the most indicative social metric for movies reaching to older audiences - “Lone Survivor” had easily outperformed through the Wednesday of release week (200k to 128k). Strictly comparing on that metric, “Fury” would have projected to make $24 million - which, essentially, it did. Still, it stands to reason that “Fury” posting huge YouTube numbers and solidly upping its search rate over release weekend (by 39%) would translate into at least high $20’s at the box office. We think the continued surge of David Fincher thriller “Gone Girl” - which finished second behind “Fury” in clocking $17.5 million - stole some serious thunder, especially with that precious 35+ aged audience (where Fury racked up 51% of ticket sales). As everyone crosses “Gone Girl” off the bucket list, expect “Fury” to hold well and build on what still stands as a solid opening weekend for Sony.

THE BOOK OF LIFE, Fox

Moviepilot Prediction: $18 million

Boxoffice Mojo Prediction: $19 million

Boxoffice.com Prediction: $16 million

Final Scoreboard: $17 million

Quick Hit: Animated love tale keeps with “Boxtrolls” pattern, performs to expectations

X's and O's: We love studying the numbers on animated releases, a personal favorite here at MP. And if we might be so bold, we’ve gotten pretty good at it too.

Fox’s “The Book of Life” was no different, comparing evenly to fellow dark animation “The Boxtrolls,” which turned in an opening of $17.3 million just a few weeks ago. “The Book of Life” was just a smidge behind ($17 million even), despite holding a slight edge in Twitter, search, and Spanish language trailer views. On the other hand, “Boxtrolls” had more than double the YouTube views overall, suggesting an advantage we probably should have taken more into account. Our thought process? Nearly 2 million extra Spanish language views for “Book of Life” meant a successful reach to a target demo. In the end, “Boxtrolls” seems to have been more successful at reaching across the aisle, though both films held their own and warranted wide releases aimed at younger moviegoers (and their parents).

THE BEST OF ME, Relativity

Moviepilot Prediction: $14 million

Boxoffice Mojo Prediction: $15.5 million

Boxoffice.com Prediction: $10 million

Final Scoreboard: $10.2 million

Quick Hit: Latest Nicholas Sparks’ entry falls well short of previous titles, can’t translate social action into box office dollars

X's and O's: We had plenty of data to pull from for this latest young adult piece, a follow-up to Nicholas Sparks adapted “The Lucky One” and “Safe Haven.” But with far less engagement on social and no A-list cast to fall back on, Relativity’s attempt at YA magic left something to be desired.

Our thinking in a $14 million prediction had something to do with box office differentiation. With older audiences (“Fury” and “Gone Girl”) plus kids/parents (“The Book of Life”) covered, teens and young adults seemed a ripe demo for the plucking. Couple that with double the trailer views of tearjerker “Winter’s Tale” (a very comparable YA release which opened to $7.3 million) and you could envision an open in the low to mid-teens, which is where we landed. Relativity also nailed the Twitter campaign, with an impressive 205k tweets and more than 120k retweets, far better than any other release this weekend on both counts. Consider this one a case of passive social engagement - particularly on Facebook, where those 471k likes look a lot less impressive when you factor in a much lower-than-usual 22% PTAT (“People Talking About This”) Facebook metric. “The Best of Me” was on people’s radars, but not enough to land butts in seats

Sources: Boxoffice Mojo Predictions (Thursday), Boxoffice.com Predictions (Thursday)

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