A last-minute comeback by the New England Patriots over the Atlanta Falcons kept viewers glued to their TV sets for Super Bowl 51, one of the most exciting championship games in football history. Interspersed within the broadcast were 66 different commercials costing a reported $5 million per 30 seconds of ad time. The price tag could be considered a bargain given the broadcast’s sizeable audience. At Boxoffice Pro, the Super Bowl is especially relevant in our prerelease tracking efforts. By taking a close look at the reception and discussion surrounding the trailers that aired during the pregame and game portions of the broadcast, we can gain valuable insight into their potential box office returns.
We measure the performance of these ads by assessing their Twitter tweet volume and Facebook like increases on the Sunday of the game, as well as their USA Today Ad Meter ranking. The Ad Meter metric is one of the oldest, most consistent measures of Super Bowl ads, and Boxoffice Pro has closely tracked and monitored the social media reaction to Super Bowl trailers since 2010, and we have fine-tuned our analysis to improve those insights over that time.
Four films aired their trailers during the pregame broadcast: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, John Wick: Chapter 2, Ghost in the Shell, and Life.
The leader from that group was Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, generating the most tweets of any film on the day with a whopping 83,005. Its 10,815 new likes on Facebook were also the most among the pregame titles. The film was always a lock to be one of the biggest earners of the year after the first film surprised many by becoming the third-highest-grossing film of 2014 with $333 million domestically and $773 million internationally; these numbers reinforce the huge potential of both its opening weekend and theatrical run in 2017.
John Wick: Chapter 2 was next in line with 8,402 tweets and 6,327 new likes. This proved to be a clear indication of audience interest in what might be a budding franchise for Lionsgate; the first film fell had difficulty generating buzz prior to its release in 2014. In fact, the first John Wick didn’t generate many tweets on any single day until it was released—and that’s when social media helped carry its word-of-mouth success. The sequel more than doubled the original’s opening-weekend gross, launching a $30.4 million North American debut.
Ghost in the Shell also had a strong return with 6,466 tweets and 4,383 new likes. Though the film is based on a critically acclaimed anime property, the source material is not a household name. An interesting comparable title would be the 2014 sleeper hit Lucy, also starring Scarlett Johansson, which went on to gross $126.6 million domestically with less than half the Facebook likes or Twitter buzz at the same point of prerelease tracking.
Life came in with 3,978 tweets and 5,064 new likes. It is important to note, however, that this is the only one of the four pregame trailers that is not a sequel or adaptation of an existing IP, and as such came into the broadcast with the smallest built-in audience of the lot.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales came out on top of the six films airing spots during the game. The average of its Twitter, Facebook, and Ad Meter rankings saw it finishing first in Facebook like increases and second on Twitter and Ad Meter. Chalk up another win for Disney as they gear up for another mammoth year at the box office; they also secured the top slot in both the pregame and game trailers.
The second spot in our analysis was shared between The Fate of the Furious and Transformers: The Last Knight. The Transformers franchise performed best on Twitter, where its 30,181 tweets were the most among the six films that aired trailers. It followed that up with a third place in Facebook like increases before coming in second to last in the Ad Meter.
The Fate of the Furious performed best on Facebook, where it ranked second among these titles by securing 12,131 new likes, and finishing third on Twitter and fourth on Ad Meter. The franchise is coming off its largest total to date—Furious 7 grossed $353 million domestically and $1.5 billion worldwide.
Baywatch came in fourth according to our three metrics. At first glance this might not appear to be a strong return, but considering that the previous three films on the list are sequels to films that each grossed over $1 billion globally, it stands out as a very positive return. The film actually led the Ad Meter rankings for film trailers but finished fourth in tweets and fifth in new likes. With the success of R-rated adaptations of TV series in recent years—and given Baywatch’s massive international appeal—this performance indicates a bullish theatrical run.
Logan ranked third on the Ad Meter, fourth in Facebook likes, and fifth in tweets among our metrics. The ninth and (supposedly) final outing for Hugh Jackman as Wolverine will also feature the last appearance of Sir Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier. Jackman and Stewart have been enduring symbols for both the franchise and an entire generation of comic book fans. Parallels with political developments on the world stage might give this title, with its message of inclusiveness, an additional dimension, helping it stand out in the highly lucrative X-Men franchise. A Cure for Wellness, an original title coming in without the help of an established IP or fan base, rounds out our list—using the platform as a way to reach the widest possible TV audience before its release.
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