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?

THE PYRAMID, 20th Century Fox

The semi-wide horror held its own and performed to social metrics, despite extremely limited release
The semi-wide horror held its own and performed to social metrics, despite extremely limited release

Moviepilot Prediction: $700k

BoxOffice Mojo Prediction: $1.9 million Prediction: $1.7 million

Final Scoreboard: $1.35 million

Quick Hit: Traditional advertising push helps make up for quiet social buzz, with per-screen predictions out the window as limited screens drives demand.

X's and O's: Before breaking down the ins and outs of this past weekend's lone "wide" release (only 589 screens), we should note that worked with Fox on marketing for the film. Heading into opening weekend, "The Pyramid" enjoyed a mobile takeover of the website, with pre-rolls and eye-catching overlays. Did this strong push with a younger fan base help push it over the hump and outperform otherwise limited social buzz? We'd like to think so!

Of course Moviepilot wasn't the only site pushing "The Pyramid" into a $1.35 million opening weekend. did the same, and coupled with an interesting clip release on opening day Friday, "The Pyramid" showed added signs of life as the weekend began.

But heading into the Friday - when we made our $700,000 prediction for Variety - the social buzz suggested limited turnout, with a projected per-screen average of around $1,000 based on comparisons to fellow horror titles "As Above, So Below," and "Deliver Us From Evil." At only about 20% the Twitter activity of "As Above," we drew heavily on the per-screen for that $8.6 million title. What we didn't do was credit Fox with a clever and strategic lineup of (almost) 600 theaters that perform particularly well in the horror genre. What we have here is a case of supply and demand - a movie that could easily have bowed on more screens, but due to a limited release, the urgency to buy a ticket (regardless of limited social engagement) increased.

The lesson learned here? Drawing "per-screen average" comparisons is a dangerous game when applying social data to box office performance. Better to look at the sheer numbers and engagement. Had we ignored the ultra-limited sub-1000 screen opening and focused only on actual social metrics, we would have landed at around $1.7 million, or 20% the box office performance of "As Above." It's a lesson that won't come into play again until 2015, as we turn our attention to the holiday blockbuster season that kicks off next weekend with "Exodus: Gods and Kings."


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