ByJosh Weinstock, writer at
Movies / TV / sports by passion. Public relations by trade. Sharing the good word about MP and the best fan community in the universe.
Josh Weinstock

Moviepilot plays Monday morning quarterback with a big data look at last weekend's box office results.


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?

BIG HERO 6, Disney

Moviepilot Prediction: $60 million

BoxOffice Mojo Prediction: $60 million Prediction: $58 million

Final Scoreboard: $56.2 million

Quick Hit: Disney does it again, tracking just behind "Frozen" with their latest animated romp - and gets solid box office to match.

X's and O's: "Interstellar" was the front-runner to win this weekend's box office battle, and while we expected a close fight, we didn't foresee the lovable Baymax blasting ahead of Christopher Nolan's space thriller.

Still, all the signs were there from a social standpoint. "Big Hero 6" followed the lead of last year's blockbuster "Frozen," with excellent YouTube (53.7 million trailer views), Twitter (nearly 100k tweets), and Search (129,000 via Google). "Frozen," which clocked $67 million for its wide open, was only slightly ahead in these categories, suggesting low-$60's for the "San Fransokyo"-set animation. But when compared to "How to Train Your Dragon 2" - which made $49.5 on opening - "BH6" was matched somewhat evenly, with better Search and higher Facebook engagement, though lower Twitter and YouTube. That helped temper our otherwise sky-high expectations, dropping our prediction back down to a flat $60 million.

So why did "Big Hero 6" make only $56? First of all, $56 million is an impressive take-in and one Disney will supplement through solid international business and impressive holdover for a critically acclaimed family-pleaser. But with families deciding between two huge releases this weekend and Oscar season officially underway, the box office spoils were largely split, keeping "BH6" from an even grander debut.


Moviepilot Prediction: $64 million

BoxOffice Mojo Prediction: $58 million Prediction: $66 million

Final Scoreboard: $47.5 million

Quick Hit: Massive social presence sparked comparisons to year's biggest films (think "Godzilla"), but sci-fi comps like "Gravity" were more apt.

X's and O's: With a digital presence almost as massive as its filmmaking scope, Christopher Nolan's "Interstellar" was a tough nut to crack, with metrics reading anywhere from low-$50's to mid-$60's. We aimed for the stars, a scary destination for all explorers, and wound up overshooting our mark.

Across the board, "Interstellar" held the advantage over "Big Hero 6" in social, with a staggering 60.4 million trailer views and more than 320,000 Google searches. With numbers that dwarfed last year's sci-fi powerhouse "Gravity," we placed "Interstellar" in a separate stratosphere altogether - the "mega-blockbuster" stratosphere. Using titles like "Godzilla" and "Guardians of the Galaxy" as comparables, we applied social engagement ratios and landed around $60 million, though with a larger than usual error margin of about $7 million either way. Unfortunately, we went the wrong way, sensing that longstanding buzz and a strong, late Twitter push would overcome less than stellar critical reaction (73% positive on Rotten Tomatoes) to lift "Interstellar" above $60 million. With the numbers now fully reported, an opening of less than $48 million hints at the importance of word-of-mouth for sci-fi releases. Like "Gravity" and even "Prometheus" before it, acclaim and reaction play heavily into the genre's box office performance - both for opening and holdover. In the case of "Interstellar," this was no "mega-blockbuster" - it was a sci-fi all along, and while its story and scope are huge, its box office remains very much grounded in this solar system.


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