Talks & Interviews — September 18, 2013 at 11:04 am

Box-office analyst: Google report accurate in general, not convincing for studio execs (exclusive)

google-logoIn June of 2013, Google released its “Quantifying Movie Magic with Google Search” report, which seems to predict whether a film would be a a box-office bomb or success.

According to Google, the more people searching for a specific movie, the bigger the box-office weekend. The report also said searches for movie trailers a month prior to a film release help predict opening weekend sales.

According to the study, key for box-office success doesn’t only lie in movie searches, but also in search ad click volume. In addition, Google’s report says YouTube searches are also a strong predictor of opening-weekend performance.

The report said searches in the movie category on Google were up by 56 percent from 2011 to 2012

Senior box office analyst from Exhibitor Relations, Jeff Bock spoke to BZFilm regarding whether the strategy, or rather “a tip” in Google’s report is something film executives should consider.

“Of course, if there ever was a conclusive scientific formula for how well a movie will perform theatrically, I would more or less be out of a job,” Bock told BZFilm.

He added however, that while algorithms and exit poll data are all part of box office analysis, there is always room for critical thinking, release date competition, and past performances detailed by genre, directors and performers.

“While Google’s Movie Magic Search may be accurate with a large percentage of titles, which is great and all, it still won’t convince any studio exec in town that their film isn’t that where tracking doesn’t really pertain to it,” Bock said. “That’s just the nature of the business, that nobody knows anything. I mean, except that “Avengers 2″ and “Avatar 2″ will gross billions–other than that, we’re all in the dark.”

“After all, “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” and “Wild Hogs” are hit films. Just thinking about that makes my brain hurt. Sometimes there are just no explanations for these box office anomalies,” he noted. “Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith, and realize that there are larger forces at work that don’t pay attention to scientific formulas and data compilations.”

Bock said he doesn’t believe anyone has accurately locked down the factors at play with Twitter and Facebook trending and how that overall anticipation for a film directly translates to financial success.

“They can certainly help gauge anticipation, but further study and conclusive proof must still be done to show how accurate and ultimately helpful these analytics are,” he said.

“How else do you explain what happened with the Mexican film “Instructions Not Included.” No one pegged that making any money, and I certainly didn’t hear anyone associated with Google crowing that it would be a hit,” he underscored. “That shows the unpredictability of films in the marketplace and how sometimes just being the right film genre-wise, at the right time, can supersede hyped-up analytics.”

BZFilm further asked if Google’s theory proves to be right, how that would affect other film marketing strategies and options.

“There will always be a new soothsayer in Hollywood, but in truth, studio executives will always listen to the data they want to hear,” Bock said.

“As long as these other services continue to predict correctly, they won’t soon be phased out,” he noted.


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