ByJosh Weinstock, writer at Creators.co
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.

This Week: TAKEN 3

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?

TAKEN 3, 20th Century Fox

No one's taking Liam Neeson's box office crown
No one's taking Liam Neeson's box office crown

Moviepilot Prediction: $31 million

BoxOffice Mojo Prediction: $28 million

BoxOffice.com Prediction: $31 million

Final Scoreboard: $40.4 million

Quick Hit: Stellar buzz on Twitter and YouTube hints at $30 million + open, but record-challenging $40 million marks massive success

X's and O's: In the interest of complete transparency, we should start by mentioning Moviepilot worked with Fox on social for the third and final installment of Liam Neeson's "Taken" series. A careful look at the strong social numbers clued us in on an opening over $30 million, with hints of even more if the older crowd turned out. They did in full effect (65% of box office came from age 25+), and "Taken 3" became the second most successful opening in January box office history.

As an aging - but still uber-popular - action star with a well-built brand behind him, Neeson has been able to reach across the aisle to younger audiences in addition to the "old faithful." The proof is in the numbers, with "Taken 3" clocking an impressive 170,000 tweets leading into open, and 76,000 retweets. That, coupled with an excellent 44% buzz score on nearly 22 million YouTube views, speaks volumes for Neeson's crossover ability, and the popularity of "Taken" with action fan youths. But in the end, the rise or fall of this latest "Taken" entry was dependent on rallying the base.

Older audiences are often best-calibrated through Search action, so that's where we looked first for box office predictions. With a better search total than Neeson's "Non-Stop," it was all but certain "Taken 3" would clear the $30 million hurdle. But paired with the effective "one last time" marketing call to action (one that worked beautifully for "The Hobbit" in December), and a solid take from youth audiences who still dig a veteran action stud, "Taken 3" defied traditional and digital tracking expectations and sets the tone for what's shaping up to be a monster 2015 at the box office.

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