29 April 2012

First Week Box Office Collections & Social Mentions

Walt Disney is banking on analysis of Tweets and mentions across the social web, to forecast how much money The Avengers will make over the opening weekend. In fact, Fizziology, a company that analyses tweets, blog posts and other social network data to provide box office forecasts, projects $150 million for the opening weekend.

Yet, Twitter and other social networks can also turbocharge word of mouth to hurt a film's box office performance in the first week per this study from the Cass Business School, London. Academics from this B school analysed 4m film related tweets and concluded Twitter postings (or MWOM - Microblogging Word of Mouth) could sway the box office results of a film a night after it's release. The gist of the report: Sentiment spread through MWOM immediately after a movies release greatly influences other people's decisions to attend a screening during the opening weekend.

So while Walt Disney can plan for social mentions prior to the movie release - which can lead to favorable forecasts,  it looses control of MWOM once movies hit theaters - which is essential to keep the momentum for the opening week.

Paul Adams, one of the leading thinkers on the emerging social web,  believes, and I concur, "influentials are a myth." They are just another media channel, albeit serve an important role as taste makers before the movie release. Drumming up PR during the first week of movies release, to influence MWOM may not be as impactful before it's release. This is just in case, the forecasting company got it wrong.

Which bring me back to what William Goldman, author of a couple of  best selling books on the show business, famously once said of the movie business: "Nobody knows anything."
What he probably left unsaid : "Focus on the entertainment, experience and distribution. The participation, social mentions & results will follow."

IMHO this rings true for any launch, let alone the show business.

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