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: CHAPPIE, UNFINISHED BUSINESS, THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL

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?

CHAPPIE, Sony

Chappie couldn't piece together a big weekend
Chappie couldn't piece together a big weekend

Moviepilot Prediction: $14 million

BoxOffice Mojo Prediction: $17 million

BoxOffice.com Prediction: $18.5 million

Final Scoreboard: $13.3 million

Quick Hit: Social stats foretold rough weekend for sci-fi drama, but "Chappie" still wound up the weekend's top grosser

X's and O's: While the sci-fi genre tends to draw crowds of all ages, the useful Search metric came in handy for landing an estimate on Neill Blomkamp's "Chappie." With plenty of reliable comps in mind, we landed on a $14 million opening weekend pull, which turned out to be the closest mark on the tracking board.

To understand today's movie marketplace, it's best to rely on recent wide releases as case studies. In this particular instance, we had two of those that fit the bill. "RoboCop" and "Jupiter Ascending" both opened to less than stellar figures, a sign that the sci-fi genre needs a jolt at large. But with a keen eye on the Search action each film engendered, we saw a friendly correlation between box office results and Search activity. "Robocop" earned $21.6 million with 179,000 searches, while "Jupiter Ascending" tabbed $18.3 million with 163,000 searches. Extrapolated out to "Chappie" and its 124,000 searches entering the weekend, we saw a rough weekend in store, and even considered dipping below our $14 million estimate.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS, 20th Century Fox

An unsuccessful business trip for the R-rated comedy
An unsuccessful business trip for the R-rated comedy

Moviepilot Prediction: $8 million

BoxOffice Mojo Prediction: $8 million

BoxOffice.com Prediction: $8 million

Final Scoreboard: $4.8 million

Quick Hit: Lackluster effort a rare miss for Vince Vaughn, as both traditional and digital tracking overestimate weekend results

X's and O's: In what could also represent a bit of Vince Vaughn fatigue, "Unfinished Business" wound up the lowest open of the weekend, a measly $4.8 million for a title expected to nearly double that mark.

While the social data foretold a $7 or $8 million open, the comps here weren't a perfect match. Leaning heavily on Vaughn's "The Internship" made sense out of the gates, but a key factor was the R rating "Unfinished Business" earned from the MPAA. "The Internship" benefitted from a PG-13 rating and appealed to younger audiences still game for the Vince Vaughn comedy streak. MPAA ratings can prove a decisive factor in understanding how the social metrics translates into box office, and that seems to have played a role here.

THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, Fox Searchlight

Finally, a movie with something to celebrate
Finally, a movie with something to celebrate

Moviepilot Prediction: $8 million

BoxOffice Mojo Prediction: $8.2 million

BoxOffice.com Prediction: $10 million

Final Scoreboard: $8.6 million

Quick Hit: Tracking proves reliable for the weekend's only "success story"

X's and O's: Thanks to some serious support from older audiences, the second installment of "Marigold Hotel" wound up in good shape, just clearing the $8 million mark we landed on. We got there - once again - relying most on Search.

We've made this point before, but the best way to gauge older audiences from social is via Search. And sure enough, with recent releases "Black or White" and "This is Where I Leave You" as comps, the Search told us $8 million. Factor in a solid 4+ million trailer views on YouTube and this one proved a solid social strategy makes a difference, no matter the age of your target audience.

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