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?


Disappointing? Mockingjay still easily became the year's top opening
Disappointing? Mockingjay still easily became the year's top opening

Moviepilot Prediction: $149 million

BoxOffice Mojo Prediction: $148 million Prediction: $150 million

Final Scoreboard: $123 million

Quick Hit: Year's biggest film suffers from frozen climates, but holdover will help spread wings.

X's and O's: No matter where you apply it, statistical analysis is subject to outliers, those unexpected circumstances that throw a wrench in an otherwise clean and legible data set. Take baseball for example, where sabermetrics are the name of the game. But toss in an injury, a freak occurrence, or inclement weather - and those reliable data points become much less reliable.

Indeed, inclement weather seems to have played the role of spoiler in our data analysis of "Mockingjay," at least to some extent. Freezing temperatures Friday night and into Saturday undoubtedly gave the sub-fanatic Hunger "Gamers" something to think about. Instead of the automatic "let's go with friends" response that a more temperate weekend engenders, all but the die-hard Katniss supporters had to consider firing up the Netflix and waiting it out until things warmed up. It's worth noting that things have warmed up, so a strong pre-Thanksgiving box office could help revive a somewhat disappointing $123 million weekend take for Lionsgate's young adult behemoth.

Not that $123 million is a disaster - in fact, with all the numbers now collected, "Mockingjay" ranks the 15th largest opening of all time, comfortably nestled between "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1" (interesting...) and "Shrek The Third" (notice a trend?).

When we dive back into the social data - our calling card, after all - we notice some interesting points. First: had we looked solely at Google Search, our data points would have placed "Mockingjay" at $120 million. With just over 75% the search activity of predecessor "Catching Fire," that metric alone suggested the actual end result. But for young adult releases - a genre "Mockingjay" not only falls into, but also helped build - Search generally plays second fiddle to Twitter and YouTube. This latest Hunger Games installment actually bested "Catching Fire" on YouTube (20 million extra trailer views), but was crushed on Twitter, netting fewer than half the tweets. While Team Mockingjay stepped up their game on Facebook (millions of added likes) and YouTube, that lost ground on Twitter seems to have made the difference - a hint that Twitter could be the most accurate foreshadow for "YA" box office action. We'll keep that in mind when "Insurgent" rolls around in March.


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