This upcoming weekend we have two new wide release openers in Edge of Darkness, and When In Rome. Will Mel Gibson's gritty action-thriller or Kristen Bell's romantic comedy be enough to surpass Avatar? Let's see how they both fared on Twitter last week.

upcoming012910.jpgEdge of Darkness had a very solid 1,168 tweets last week. I'd expect its core demographic to be males over 35, but much of its breakout potential will be linked to if Mel Gibson can still offer crossover appeal to older women as well. In terms of comparisons, I think the best yardstick would be Law Abiding Citizen which had 902 tweets its week prior to release. As such, right off the bat it appears to be primed for high teens to low twenties opening weekend.

When In Rome had 865 tweets reference it last week on Twitter. In terms of comparisons, there have surprisingly been no young skewing romantic comedies in the last few months, while there were five targeted at older audiences: Love Happens, The Invention of Lying, Everybody's Fine, Did You Hear About the Morgans and It's Complicated. Unfortunately I don't think any of these five will offer great insights into this film's potential since its target audience of young women 15-30 make up the core demographic of Twitter. As such, expect a ratio of 1,000+ here, maybe even 1,500+. Low double digits seems likely at this point.

Check back Monday night for analysis of the Monday tweet totals.

Twitter tracking history. (For 2009's ratio history please check here.)

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The ratio is the number of tweets per $1 million of Friday Box Office gross. A film with 1,000 tweets and a $10 million Friday would therefore have a ratio of 100. In general, films that appeal to very young or older audiences have lower ratios since those audiences are not big users of Twitter. By comparison, films that appeal to younger audiences (18-35) have much higher ratios since those audiences are much more active users of Twitter.

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Extraordinary Measures opened to a scant $2.04 million on Friday, way below my estimated $3.5 million. Its weekend ratio of 1,228 turned out to be almost double my estimated 700. Obviously the premiere had a large effect on the ratio since its target audience was primarily older and outside of the Twitter sweet spot.

Legion was the strongest of the new openers, coming in with $6.70 million on Friday. This was right in line with my estimated $6 million. Its opening ratio of 581 was very low for the genre, but as mentioned on Friday I thought that the filter used to zero in on actual tweets referencing the film would cut down on the standard ratio.

Lastly, The Tooth Fairy opened with $3.50 million on Friday, a ways below my predicted $5.5 million. Its ratio of 491 meant that it played to older audiences then I had imagined and was much more in line with last week's The Spy Next Door than it was with recent animated films.

Check back tomorrow for a preview of the upcoming weekend's wide release films: Edge of Darkness, and When In Rome.

Twitter tracking history. (For 2009's ratio history please check here.)

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The ratio is the number of tweets per $1 million of Friday Box Office gross. A film with 1,000 tweets and a $10 million Friday would therefore have a ratio of 100. In general, films that appeal to very young or older audiences have lower ratios since those audiences are not big users of Twitter. By comparison, films that appeal to younger audiences (18-35) have much higher ratios since those audiences are much more active users of Twitter.

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The methodology used here borrows from that used by DP07 and Xiayun over at the now defunct World of KJ Yahoo Review thread. In a nutshell, they theorized and proved that the number of reviews on the Yahoo website on opening day could be used to predict the opening day Box Office number. My work here is similar, but looks at tweets from the days, weeks, months and sometimes even years prior to release.

The methodology is as follows:

Record all tweets for a film from the day its release is announced to opening day.
Filter out garbage posts not related to the film or spam.
Obtain ratios for # of total tweets to Friday/weekend box office.

Simple enough right? Only problem is the sheer volume of tweets, the number of garbage tweets not related to the film (especially with a very generic movie title like "Fame"), and difficult to spell titles that lead to common typos. To get around this I have had to get creative with search filters and a lot of manual eyeballing of data to fine tune them.

Is it foolproof? No, obviously some people might be atrocious spellers and I might not search for all possible typos, or some people might reference the movie by the actors involved ("going to see the new Bale flick tonight."). But my hypothesis is that it will all even out per film. Twitter is by no means a representative sample of the population, BUT, it is a pretty consistent sample, and through following it over many weeks and months clear patterns should emerge once I keep in mind genre, appeal and the wider environment (ie. holidays, midnight screenings etc. that will affect tweet totals).

Since I first came up with the idea and began gathering data back in September of 2009, we have refined ours tools here at Box Office and I now have access to positive and negative tweets by title, tweet data for every day of the week and from the day a movie is announced for wide release its tweets are tracked. As time goes on the formula expands and I have been able to incorporate more sophisticated methods of analysis, all which afford me greater accuracy and insight into buzz.

In general over the last four and a half years the number of tweets by title have increased dramatically as Twitter's popularity for movie discussion has taken off amongst its users and as marketing teams have embraced the power of social media in general and focused advertising campaigns on them.

Two concepts which are core to our work are Ratios and how Twitter is used by different demographics:

The ratio is the number of tweets per $1 million of Friday Box Office gross over a defined period. A film with 1,000 tweets from Monday to Thursday and a $10 million Friday would therefore have a ratio of 100. In general, films that appeal to very young or older audiences have lower ratios since those audiences are not big users of Twitter. By comparison, films that appeal to younger audiences (18-35) have much higher ratios since those audiences are much more active users of Twitter. The tweets used for these ratio calculations are always all tweets from Monday to Thursday of the release week, or for Wednesday openers I use Monday to Tuesday.

The main goal is to come up with a solid tweets to box office ratio by genre and audience for films. Why on earth is this important? Well, cause I'm a numbers geek and it interests me to combine my social media and Box Office passions. But it will also predict flops from further away and help to mine diamonds in the rough that will overperform. I have learned a lot since 2009 about the Twitter landscape as it pertains to movies and how it has and is continually shifting as usage shifts for all parties involved, the perpetual goal is to be a viable source of advance tracking outside of traditional methods. 

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Total tweets for January 22nd Openers

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Extraordinary Measures had a stellar Thursday, bringing in 1,046 tweets, up from Wednesday's 656. This gave it 2,507 tweets for the full Monday to Thursday period. By comparison, Law Abiding Citizen had 1,207 tweets on its Thursday before release, and 3,229 for the whole week. It had $7.5 million in receipts from 2,889 theaters for its first Friday for a Twitter ratio of 431. Men Who Stare At Goats had 1,270 on its Thursday and 3,249 for the full week. It managed $4.6 million on its first Friday from 2,443 theaters for a ratio of 706. Due to the similar theater count and target audience (albeit different genre) i'm going to go with an estimate of a ~700 ratio here and still to my Thursday expectation of a $3.5 million Friday and $9.5 million weekend.

Legion saw the biggest jump on Thursday as it scored 1,621 tweets, up 65% from Wednesday's 986. That gave it 3,890 tweets for the full Monday to Thursday period. In terms of comparisons the best will likely be the two week old Daybreakers which had 1,836 on its Thursday before release, and 5,130 for the whole week. It managed $5.9 million on its first Friday from 2,523 theaters for a Twitter ratio of 869. On paper this is tracking behind Daybreakers, since they are hitting the same target market, similar genre, and similar theatre count, yet Legion is a ways behind in total tweets. One fact will likely push its ratio down though for this analysis and that's it name. Film's with generic names have to be filtered in searches, no surprises, and as such to weed out countless false positives the Legion search string was "Legion bettany OR Palicki OR quaid OR tyrese OR see OR screening OR trailer OR watch OR movie". Did a great job at catching most tweets but no filter is 100% perfect. As such, I'm going to give it a slight bump and predict a $6 million Friday and $15.5 million weekend.

The Tooth Fairy had 640 tweets on Thursday, up from 445 on Tuesday. By comparison, A Christmas Carol had 1,721 tweets on its Thursday before release, and 4,768 for the full week. It made $8.96 million on its first Friday from 3,683 theaters for a Twitter ratio of 532. Planet 51 had 616 on its Thursday and 1,491 for the full week. It managed $3.15 million on its first Friday from 3,110 theaters for a ratio of 473. Lastly, The Spy Next Door had 623 on its Thursday and 1,452 for the full week. It managed $2.43 million on its first Friday from 2,924 theaters for a ratio of 599. Its ratio should likely come in at around ~350. As such, with these numbers in light, expect a $5.5 million Friday and $16.5 million for the weekend.

Check back Saturday to see Friday's numbers and the final Twitter ratios.

Twitter tracking history. (For 2009's ratio history please check here.)

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The ratio is the number of tweets per $1 million of Friday Box Office gross. A film with 1,000 tweets and a $10 million Friday would therefore have a ratio of 100. In general, films that appeal to very young or older audiences have lower ratios since those audiences are not big users of Twitter. By comparison, films that appeal to younger audiences (18-35) have much higher ratios since those audiences are much more active users of Twitter.

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Total tweets for January 22nd Openers

Extraordinary Measures continued to do very well on Wednesday with 656 tweets, up from 528 the previous day. A large percentage of these tweets were still news about the premiere and about a Reuters article about the true story behind the film. All buzz is good buzz, but I'm not that sold on it since I really don't see a large percentage of its number being actual people saying they want to see the film. By comparison, Law Abiding Citizen had 702 tweets on its Wednesday before release, and Men Who Stare At Goats had 793. It definitely looks better than it had done on Monday though, and as such expect a $3.5 million Friday and $9.5 million weekend.

Legion had a nice swell of buzz on Wednesday as it had 986 tweets, up from Tuesday's 671. In terms of comparisons, Zombieland had 2,991 tweets on its Wednesday before release, Saw VI had 1,926, The Fourth Kind had 873 and Daybreakers had 1,312. A marked improvement from its slow Tuesday but its still running behind Daybreakers which will likely be the most solid comparison. We should see around a 800-859 ratio here which will likely give it $5 million on Friday and $14 million for the weekend.

The Tooth Fairy had 445 tweets on Wednesday, up from 352 on Tuesday. By comparison, A Christmas Carol had 1,088 tweets on its Wednesday before release, Planet 51 had 346 and The Spy Next Door had 342. Solid numbers for the film, but not breakout solid. Given its target audience Its ratio should likely come in at around ~400. As such, with these numbers in light, expect a $5.5 million Friday and $16.5 million for the weekend.

Check back tomorrow to see Thursday's numbers and the final weekend predictions.

Twitter tracking history. (For 2009's ratio history please check here.)

alltweets0115.jpg

The ratio is the number of tweets per $1 million of Friday Box Office gross. A film with 1,000 tweets and a $10 million Friday would therefore have a ratio of 100. In general, films that appeal to very young or older audiences have lower ratios since those audiences are not big users of Twitter. By comparison, films that appeal to younger audiences (18-35) have much higher ratios since those audiences are much more active users of Twitter.

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