Social Media: How the First Half of 2018 Is Shaping Up at the Box Office

2017 is drawing to a close, and much of the story this year has been its inability to keep pace with 2016, despite high hopes coming off a record Q1. But hope does spring eternal, and 2018 is just around the corner with a massive slate of releases and investment by the studios. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the Twitter returns for each wide release in the first half of next year and see who the winners and losers are.

Deadpool 2 was the most talked-about title among next semester’s releases, garnering 584,920 tweets over the past two months. This was hardly a surprise given just how much of a game-changer the first film was for social media marketing in general. It also had the largest single day of the films we tracked, generating 187,941 tweets. Given the success of the first film, and how much Deadpool has infiltrated pop culture since its release, there is little doubt about the sequel’s chances at the box office.

Black Panther ranks second on our list with 478,878 tweets. This was less of a given than Deadpool, considering it’s the debut entry for the title character, whom audiences have only seen in a supporting role in Captain America: Civil War. Black Panther is not as recognizable to casual fans, a challenge compounded by the film’s Q1 2018 release—the first time a Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) title is released so early in the year. Disney, however, has had a very successful knack for spinning off and creating separate franchises for its Marvel characters, namely Ant-Man and Doctor Strange. These early returns are very promising and a strong indication that the MCU winning streak will continue.

Another MCU title, Avengers: Infinity War, occupies the third spot on our list. Though the second film in the Avengers franchise opened below the first, it has added many new faces this time around, including the hugely successful Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, and Black Panther. The film raked in 345,963 tweets over the last two months despite not having a trailer online. Six months from release and no trailer, and it still was the third most talked about film—evidence of the high anticipation for this movie. If it opens above $190 million it will be the only franchise to date to have three films open over that mark.

In fourth place, we have the first non–comic book adaptation on our list: Disney/Pixar’s The Incredibles 2, with 316,967 tweets. The Incredibles is one of the most beloved and successful Pixar films of all time, and the early online buzz shows it has a large adult fan base—in addition to family audiences—eager for its sequel. This recipe was very successful for Toy Story and Monster’s Inc. sequels. Early signs point to a lucrative run at the box office.

Lastly, Early Man was the second animated film in the top five and the first original film of the lot, coming in with 300,346 tweets. The trailer drew a lot of attention to the project, putting it on people’s radars and allowing it to emerge as an early contender as one of the most profitable films of the first half of 2018. This could be one of the strongest releases in the history of Aardman Animations.

A number of high-profile films didn’t make our top 10, though each had specific factors for its lag in social media buzz.

Solo: A Star Wars Story has not been marketed much by Disney at this point, as the studio focuses its strengths on the December debut of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Don’t be surprised to see the Solo trailer either attached to The Last Jedi or released in the weeks following opening weekend. Online buzz should pick up notably soon thereafter.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is likely to follow a similar online footprint, as we’re expecting a trailer release over the holiday corridor. Marketing has been sparse to date, and with little to see, fans simply haven’t had much to sink their teeth into. Given the strength of the rebooted franchise’s last outing, social media buzz is imminent as the franchise attempts to claim the largest opening-weekend record for a fourth time in its storied history.

The New Mutants is part of Fox’s new direction of the X-Men franchise, another beloved comic book adaptation. Its trailer dropped within our two month window of interest and generated 50,000 tweets. Fox has done a great job with online marketing for the Deadpool and X-Men films in the past, and New Mutants represents a sort of departure for the series—aiming for a young-adult, edgy, and scary vibe.

Overall, there seems to be a lot to be excited about in the first half of 2018. Studios have heeded the call when it comes to scheduling and utilizing more of the calendar year; in years gone by, blockbusters were almost always released in the summer. 2018 will continue the trend of larger blockbusters opening outside of the summer months; both halves of the year feature notable releases.

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