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: AMERICAN SNIPER, THE WEDDING RINGER, PADDINGTON, BLACKHAT

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?

AMERICAN SNIPER, Warner Bros.

January's best opening ever
January's best opening ever

Moviepilot Prediction: $42 million

BoxOffice Mojo Prediction: $42 million

BoxOffice.com Prediction: $57 million (Four-Day)

Final Scoreboard: $89.5 million

Quick Hit: Strong social couldn't foresee one of box office's best ever releases, as older audiences flock in full force.

X's and O's: For an older-skewing title like "American Sniper," we turned to the all-important Search metric - the best digital indicator of how older audiences are engaging with a new release.

To be sure, "Sniper" was geared up for a huge January open, far ahead of Mark Wahlberg's "Lone Survivor" with nearly 340,000 searches heading into the weekend. However, "Sniper" was behind "Zero Dark Thirty" (395,000 in Search) and even with better complimentary numbers on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, an opening of $50 million felt like a longshot.

But the rare cultural phenomenon - the title that captures the American ethos and controls the water cooler conversation - can create its own set of rules, and that's just what happened here. In fact, the mighty $5+ million showing on Thursday night helped spike social chatter for "Sniper" into what became a frenzied response from audiences of all ages. Come Monday, we were looking at not just January's best ever opening, but the best Winter opening in U.S. box office history. This one forces tracking experts - both traditional and digital - to reevaluate the rules and set new standards for box office performance.

THE WEDDING RINGER, Sony

Kevin Hart continued his storybook B.O. run
Kevin Hart continued his storybook B.O. run

Moviepilot Prediction: $21 million

BoxOffice Mojo Prediction: $22 million

BoxOffice.com Prediction: $29 million (Four-Day)

Final Scoreboard: $21 million

Quick Hit: Formula for success becoming easier to read for Kevin Hart, as Twitter holds the key to box office performance

X's and O's: After the likes of "Think Like a Man Too" and "About Last Night," it's become clear Kevin Hart is a solid cash cow in U.S. theaters, and Twitter is the secret sauce.

Urban audiences' activity on Twitter has become an excellent indicator of action at the theater, and "Wedding Ringer" showed up just behind those aforementioned titles to the tune of 32,500 tweets. Comparing across to those similar titles, "Wedding Ringer" promised to just crack the $20 million mark over the three-day, and that's just what it did.

PADDINGTON, The Weinstein Co.

Paddington can call it a nice weekend at the B.O.
Paddington can call it a nice weekend at the B.O.

Moviepilot Prediction: $17 million

BoxOffice Mojo Prediction: $17 million

BoxOffice.com Prediction: $25 million (Four-Day)

Final Scoreboard: $19 million

Quick Hit: Only thing keeping digital tracking from nailing this one is surging 2015 box office.

X's and O's: Families looking for a diversion at the theater this weekend had little choice but to embrace the cuddly "Paddington," with Weinstein Co. finding a clever niche in a crowded weekend.

Social metrics showed "Paddington" trending ahead of recent comparable "Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb," with an impressive 60,000 tweets heading into release. "Museum" cleared $17 million for its open but also had better numbers on Search and seemed a better draw for older audiences. We landed on the very same number - $17 million - for "Paddington," but a robust start to the 2015 box office will force both traditional and modern evaluators to up their numbers moving forward. The box office is back, and with the exception of our next title, the numbers tell that story.

BLACKHAT, Universal

Chris Hemsworth is calling his Avengers buddies for help
Chris Hemsworth is calling his Avengers buddies for help

Moviepilot Prediction: $7.5 million

BoxOffice Mojo Prediction: $8 million

BoxOffice.com Prediction: $11.5 million (Four-Day)

Final Scoreboard: $3.8 million

Quick Hit: Disastrous release continues trend of Avengers stars not carrying box office vehicles without their posse.

X's and O's: This one had the makings of a solid open, with a proven (albeit inconsistent) director in Michael Mann and a People's "Sexiest Man Alive" in Chris Hemsworth. But as "The Judge" proved last year and "Blackhat" only further enforces, a house divided cannot stand and the Avengers divided cannot open.

Search was again our focal point here, with 35+ audiences the likely target demo. "Blackhat" performed okay on Search, with more than 50,000 views, but was still trending behind comparables "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" and "Transcendence." Couple that with an expected Goliath of a competitor in "American Sniper" and you're left with the first box office flop on the new year.

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