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February, 2018

New Releases
Black Panther

With the release of Black Panther only two days away, the hype train for the movie is at full steam. There is a #BlackPantherLive twitter event today. T.I. and WalMart are giving away free tickets. People are dressing up and arguing about dressing up. The expectations are not only for a runaway financial success but also for an industry-altering event.

In analytical terms, what does all this activity tell us about what will happen when the movie opens in theaters on Thursday?

Like everyone else we’re pretty excited for the Black Panther release, and it’s difficult not to get swept up in the hype when it feels like the movie is all anyone is talking about. From an analysis and decision-making standpoint, however, this is exactly the time to step back and check your priors and fundamentals and try to understand what we are seeing in quantitative terms.

It is important to first acknowledge that there are aspects of this release that are not strictly quantifiable. The cultural significance both cannot be overstated and is nearly impossible to measure prospectively. There just are not a lot of historical parallels that we can look to for guidance so for our purposes we sort of need to proceed under the banner of, “Let’s measure what we can measure”.

Buzz Score in FLIQ is a composite metric that represents trailer views, search activity, and Wikipedia views. It gets more complex underneath, but that’s the basic idea. The Buzz score combines all those factors and then ranks a given movie against all the others in the library (2005-present) on normalized the scale 0 to 100.

Here we see that Black Panther is currently scoring a 98, which is… quite good, but not unprecedented.

What can this score tell us about the potential box office performance?

Visual Explorer is a quick analysis tool that we’ve built into FLIQ that is really helpful in these kinds of cases. Essentially, we want to look at movies with a similar buzz score to understand how they performed and use them as a proxy for Black Panther performance.

If we look at just movies with a very similar Buzz score, 97 to 98, there are 48 cases like that in the FLIQ database. We’re going to look at these over time, with their opening week revenue on the y-axis and the size of the circles representing total revenue.

Across these 48 cases, the average opening weekend was $112M. The minimum is $24M (Ghost In The Shell), and the maximum is $270M (Avengers). So this gives a good if super-broad, range of performance.

We can further refine this analysis by liming our set of comparables movies by other key characteristics we know about Black Panther at this time. For example, if we look at only movies in this set that have a similar budget ($150-$200M) the average opening weekend jumps from $112M to $124M. We can similarly limit to only Fantasy/SciFi movies, or February releases, to get a sense of expected performance using comps.

This is a quick and dirty analysis and forecasting method that FLIQ enables, and a great thought exercise even (especially?) when you have a unique movie like Black Panther because you can establish your performance baseline and then think about the unique elements on top of that. Presumably, Black Panther will beat out these historical comps and come in on the high side of the range we established. We’ll see this weekend.


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