Filmmakers often dream of the day their movie will be nominated, and win, an Academy Award. It’s hard to beat the kind of publicity an Oscar will do for a filmmaker’s art, and social media buzz now makes up a huge part of the attention that surrounds a movie.
On Sunday, eight films went head-to-head in the best picture category for that Golden Statue. Birdman came out victorious, but how did the movie fare on Twitter?
Social media monitoring platform Encore Alert pulled together a report to compare the Best Picture nominees and their Twitter presence to see why some films are able to “marry artistic and marketing success.” So does box office success translate to better engagement on Twitter? Let’s find out.
Encore Alert examined three metrics to compare the nominated films in terms of traditional and Twitter success:
- Box office revenue as of February 11th
- Twitter engagement: The total replies, retweets and favorites on each movie’s “official” self-congratulatory tweet for the nomination
- Buzz: The total number of tweets using the movie title
Best Picture nominees for 2015 were as follows:
- American Sniper
- The Grand Budapest Hotel
- The Imitation Game
- The Theory of Everything
Three key takeaways from the study:
1.) Box office success does NOT equal more engagement on Twitter.
Take, for example, the film American Sniper, a box office powerhouse starring Best Actor nominated Bradley Cooper. It has earned over $360 million so far—more than 770% more than Selma, but Selma had 26% more Twitter engagement.
When the numbers are broken down into the number of people who purchased a ticket to American Sniper, and those that engaged with the movie on Twitter, the difference is even starker. The average movie ticket price is $8.50, so that number means that over 43 million people have gone to see American Sniper. And to date, it only has 2,195 engagements on Twitter (retweets, replies, and favorites). That’s only 0.005% of those that saw the movie in theaters. That draws the question – could it have been an even bigger hit if the Twitter engagement was better?
2. Box office success DOES lead to more mentions on Twitter.
While there isn’t a direct correlation between box office dollars and engagements with a Twitter handle, high box office numbers does seem to increase the number of people talking about the film.
January 14, the day the Oscar nominees were announced, chatter about American Sniper exploded far beyond any other Best Picture nominee. Name mentions of the film hit over 150,000 tweets—far surpassing the next most-mentioned film Birdman at just over 69,000 tweets.
3. Letting the big studio handle Twitter is a mistake.
Three of the movies with the least Twitter engagement: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Birdman, and The Theory of Everything left the Twitter marketing to the big movie studios like Fox Searchlight and Universal. That means the movies don’t have their own Twitter accounts, just tweets from the movie studio promoting the film. While utilizing the following that big studios already have could be beneficial—the research shows that it can’t be the only part of the Twitter campaign.
The problem with big studios is that they are trying to promote multiple movies at a time, and the Best Picture nominees just got lost in the shuffle—even if that seems counterproductive. Creating a separate Twitter handle for the film could have dramatically increased the engagement for the films.
Films that created a separate handle were able to better play to their strengths and share content related to the movie’s theme. For example, Selma’s Twitter account shared tweets on racism, justice, and even had an active campaign from Oprah Winfrey, which all contributed to the increased engagement over other films.