Based on an analysis of 122 wide-release films (those opening in more than a thousand theaters), we ranked titles based on tweets from Monday to Sunday during their release week, cross-referencing results with the films’ opening-weekend grosses. The idea is to see which films lived up to their (social media) expectations—and which ones missed the mark. The underlying assumption is that films that had similar ranks across Twitter and opening weekend performed in line with their online expectations. Those with much higher Twitter rankings than box office didn’t live up to their hype. The converse is indicative of films that break out and over-perform, or whose core demographics were underrepresented on Twitter—as is usually the case with family-friendly films and those targeting older crowds.
No 2017 social media column would be complete without a solid mention of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The film was by far the biggest story of the year with a $220 million opening weekend and 2,071,924 release-week tweets, easily leading all other titles. It topped all tracked films on Twitter for 65 days of the calendar year, twice the number of days than the second-ranked film. Over the past couple of years, there have been only seven movies to have generated over 2 million tweets during their release week; three of them happen to be part of the Star Wars franchise.
The majority of the top 10 spots in our ranking were occupied by films that lined up nicely between their box office and Twitter activity. This is most evident with titles like Spiderman: Homecoming, (6th in opening-weekend box office and release-week tweets), Beauty and the Beast (ranked No. 2 at the box office, No. 3 on Twitter), Wonder Woman (ranked No. 7 at the box office, No. 2 on Twitter), and The Fate and the Furious (ranked No. 8 at the box office, No. 12 on Twitter).
Using our stated methodology, films that performed better on Twitter as compared to their opening-weekend box office indicate a situation in which their social media user base missed the mark. Films in this hopper included: Thank You for Your Service (ranked No. 44 on Twitter, No. 100 at the box office), Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (ranked No. 15 on Twitter, No. 53 at the box office) and Ghost in the Shell (ranked No. 17 on Twitter, No. 48 at the box office).
Despite being two big box office hits, two Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) sequels—Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Thor: Ragnarok—were the only two titles in the top 10 to have a double-digit discrepancy between their Twitter and box office numbers. This is a very strong sign for their respective franchises; having these titles break out in such dramatic fashion is indicative of fans’ interest in these particular characters and story lines. It’s also a good sign for Disney, which currently has 10 MCU titles on their slate.
Family-friendly movies tend to have a higher box office performance than their Twitter activity might suggest. This is simply because a large portion of their audience is made up of kids and their parents, demographics that don’t have a particularly active social media presence. Despicable Me 3, Coco and Cars 3 are all examples of this trend. A second type of film that is often under-represented in our analyses is one that uses a common name for a title. Films like The Foreigner, Snatched, and Wonder are examples of films that are difficult to zero in on and track on social media.
Discounting these two types of films, standout titles on social media for 2017 included American Made (ranked No. 89 on Twitter, No. 54 at the box office), How To Be A Latin Lover (ranked No. 102 on Twitter, No. 68 at the box office) and Murder on the Orient Express (ranked No. 59 on Twitter, No. 34 at the box office).
Disney’s slate looks especially promising for 2018, with impending successes such as Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man 2, The Incredibles 2, and numerous other sequels that are already performing strongly on social media. It’s hard to see how Disney won’t cross $2 billion domestically for the fourth year in a row in 2018. The simple fact is that with the Star Wars, MCU, and Pixar portfolio, Disney has a lock on the box office for the foreseeable future.
|Opening||Movie||Studio||Mon-Sun Tweets||Opening Weekend||Mon-Sun Tweet Rank||Opening Rank|
|12/15/2017||Star Wars: The Last Jedi||BV||2,071,924||$220,009,584.00||1||1|
|3/17/2017||Beauty and the Beast||BV||1,381,673||$174,750,616.00||3||2|
|2/10/2017||Fifty Shades Darker||Uni.||515,502||$46,607,250.00||8||20|
|9/8/2017||It (2017)||WB (NL)||427,927||$123,403,419.00||10||4|
|10/6/2017||Blade Runner 2049||WB||420,913||$32,753,122.00||11||29|
|4/14/2017||The Fate of the Furious||Uni.||416,627||$98,786,705.00||12||8|
|9/22/2017||Kingsman: The Golden Circle||Fox||411,675||$39,023,010.00||13||24|
|5/5/2017||Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2||BV||380,754||$146,510,104.00||14||3|
|7/21/2017||Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets||STX||348,935||$17,007,624.00||15||53|
|3/31/2017||Ghost in the Shell||Par.||286,099||$18,676,033.00||17||48|
|6/23/2017||Transformers: The Last Knight||Par.||262,132||$44,680,073.00||18||21|
|6/16/2017||All Eyez On Me||LG/S||229,586||$26,435,354.00||19||36|
|2/10/2017||John Wick: Chapter 2||LG/S||226,091||$30,436,123.00||20||32|