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?


Back in the money
Back in the money

Moviepilot Prediction: $30 million

BoxOffice Mojo Prediction: $29 million Prediction: $35 million

Final Scoreboard: $38 million

Quick Hit: Buddies comedy revives dormant base and grabs new fans, exceeding predictions across the board.

X's and O's: Whether you're using traditional tracking methods, or our preferred digital tracking, reading this laugher made most feel...dumb. Predicting a sequel isn't rocket science. In today's market, there's more than enough case studies to go by. But what happens when the sequel releases a full 20 years after the original?

For one thing, the standard "sequel bump" that follow-up titles usually count on seemed far from a sure thing in this case. Social numbers for "Dumber To" were strong - 4 million Facebook fans for the movie page and more than 70 million trailer views - largely due to the popularity of the first film. But with the primary fan base now 20 years older, it was hard to say how much of that social action would translate into butts in seats.

In the end, our $30 million guess fell well short of the actual result. We suspect some of the audience we expected would show for "Beyond the Lights" decided to catch up with Harry and Lloyd instead. Universal successfully activated an aging base, while also creating a new, younger one (as evidenced by that social surge). A clue that audiences both young and old were engaged on digital platforms? Aside from the impressive Facebook/YouTube, "Dumber To" also generated nearly 90,000 Google searches leading into Friday, a robust number that hints toward fan reactivation done right.


Critical acclaim not the name of the game
Critical acclaim not the name of the game

Moviepilot Prediction: $17 million

BoxOffice Mojo Prediction: $11 million Prediction: $12.5 million

Final Scoreboard: $6.5 million

Quick Hit: A mis-placed comparison throws off the math and sees us anticipating a surprise hit where there was none.

X's and O's: We went aggressive on this one, and it backfired big time. We chose Idris Elba-starrer "No Good Deed," as our comp title, which suggested Relativity's "Beyond the Lights" was set for an opening weekend in the high teens. "Deed" shocked the tracking world with a $24 million pull a few months back, and with similarly strong social engagement across the board, "Lights" felt like another surprise smash - but we were wrong.

Looking back, if we'd used titles targeting young female audiences like "If I Stay," "The Giver," "Endless Love" and "Mortal Instruments" as comparisons, we would've been almost spot on, with a prediction of $6.5 million (just $300,000 off the mark). With YouTube and Search providing very wide-ranging data, it's Twitter that holds the key. A great example is "The Giver," which drove 229,000 release week tweets and took $12.3 million on opening: almost double the amount of tweets, and almost double the amount of box office dollars. Determining the proper comparison titles is half the battle - sometimes even more. Lesson learned.


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