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Get Up To Speed With Behind The Screens

If you’re looking to catch up on Behind the Screens — Movio and Numero’s podcast exploring the people behind the box office — you’ve come to the right place!

For several weeks now, Matthew Liebmann and Simon Burton have been showcasing their unique industry insights, experience, and thought leadership, along with a number of fantastic guests and interviews along the way from Vista Group’s studio and exhibition partners to data scientists and more.

Let’s jump right in!

Episode 1 — We predict who’s most likely to return to cinemas with Dr William Caceido

In their launch episode, Matthew and Simon were joined by Movio’s Senior Data Scientist, Dr William Caceido, to explore his recent research into using machine learning to predict returning moviegoers based on pre-pandemic attendance data.

The Numbers

Simon highlighted a few key numbers from the box office over the most recent weekend:

  • A Quiet Place 2 won the weekend’s #1 spot, making $25.1M USD, bringing it to $222M worldwide.
  • 15% above where the previous title, A Quiet Place, was at the same point in its theatrical run.
  • F9 (Fast and Furious 9) opened in 13 more international markets, bringing in another $20M and approaching the $300M cumulative mark internationally ahead of its US release.
  • F9 brought in nearly $7M in Australia — 30% higher than Hobbs and Shaw and only $1M below the previous major franchise instalment, The F8 of the Furious.
  • In the US, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard brought in $17M for its five-day opening weekend.

The Audience

Matthew ran through the audience for The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard and gave us some key takeaways.

The audience had a lot of crossover with other action movies like Wrath of Man and Bloodshot, but in particular with what Matthew referred to as the “zany action” genre; films like Bad Boys for Life, Birds of Prey, and Hobbs and Shaw.

Interestingly, the audience for The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard skewed considerably older than the original film. 52% of the audience were aged over 45, compared to 46% for the first film. Those in the 18-34 age bracket were only 24% of the audience, compared to 34% of the opening weekend audience for the previous title.

Matthew discussed several reasons that may have fed into that audience age bracket shift, so to get the full scoop from Matthew on that, tune in to the full episode!

Dr William Caceido

Lastly, for those more data science-minded, Dr Caceido also touched briefly on the detailed ways the Movio Data Science team built a segmentation tool with machine learning to power predictions of what kinds of moviegoers will be most likely to return to cinemas.

Episode 2 — Maximising your F9 Box Office

For episode two, Matthew and Simon welcomed Caitlin Klein — one of Movio’s Senior Account Managers — to find out the best ways to maximise one’s spend and box office returns for F9.

The Numbers

The numbers were simple and big this week:

  • F9 brought in $70M for its opening weekend, making it the largest release since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • That number also put it $10M above what Hobbs and Shaw made in 2019.

The Audience

Matthew highlighted that 32.4% of people who came to see F9 over its opening weekend were returning to cinemas for the first time since the pandemic. That meant not only that blockbusters like F9 can bring back moviegoers on a massive scale, but looking from the other angle we can see that 2/3rds of the audience have already been back to the cinemas, which with an audience this large is very significant.

Caitlin Klein

Matthew and Caitlin had a fantastic discussion about the audience for F9 and how a cinema might go about marketing and promoting a film with it as the key example.

Some key aspects they spoke on were personalising content and comm channels to your audience, (such as focusing on short, sharp mobile promotions for younger audiences or appealing to nostalgia and clarity for older ones) targeting releases through all parts of their theatrical life cycle, and how to use recency, frequency, and monetary metrics to segment promotions and incentivise audiences.

Caitlin had some exceptional advice that could be applied to any number of films, so be sure to listen to the full episode to get her take on how to maximise F9’s box office return.

Episode 3 — Movie Marketing with StudioCanal CEO Aus/NZ Elizabeth Trotman

For episode three, Matthew and Simon discussed the box office for the July 4th weekend in the US, sat down with Elizabeth Trotman, CEO of StudioCanal for Australia/New Zealand to talk movie marketing, and looked ahead at pre-sales for the upcoming release of Black Widow.

The Numbers

Simon highlighted a few key box office numbers for Boss Baby 2,The Forever Purge, and F9.

Universal held all 3 of the top spots at the domestic box office for the weekend:

  • F9 took first place with $22.9M — a drop of 67% from its opening weekend.
  • Boss Baby 2 came in second with a gross of $16M.
  • And The Forever Purge held the third spot with $12.5M.

The Audience

Matthew highlighted the tribute to motherhood from the turnout to Boss Baby 2; where audiences are typically 57% male, Boss Baby 2’s audience was 58% female, with those around the new motherly age holding around 29% of the overall audience.

There was a big overlap between the audiences for Spiral and The Forever Purge, suggesting that this particular audience subset is coming back to cinemas and making a habit of it.

Elizabeth Trotman

Elizabeth Trotman spoke with Matthew about why she’s confident in the future of the cinema industry, highlighting the cinema experience itself. At the end of the day, home cinema’s simply can’t compete with the communal experience, or the scale of screen and sound that a real cinema offers. Somewhere in the range of 20% of cinemagoers go to the cinema without necessarily knowing what film they’re going to see; the experience itself is that much of a draw.

The two spoke about the upcoming Gunpowder Milkshake, a “Jane Wick” type of film marketing a female-led action genre; although the film is female-led, Trotman emphasised that it’s always the audience for a movie that leads marketing, meaning marketing still focuses on the male-skewed action audiences. To get the full scoop from Matthew and Elizabeth, you can listen to the full-length episode below.

Black Widow — Pre-sales

To close out, Simon and Matthew briefly touched on pre-sales for Black Widow. As of Monday midnight, pre-sales were tracking extremely well, at 60% ahead of F9 by comparison. Although that doesn’t promise a 60% increase on F9’s launch at around $110M, industry experts are expecting the range of $80-90M for the opening weekend. Pre-sales make those numbers seem promising, which is another much-appreciated boost for the domestic market for the industry.

Episode 4 — Black Widow, “couch-leakage” & leveraging your first-party behavioural data

This week’s episode was a little longer than usual, so there’s a lot to recap! Black Widow’s opening weekend was the key topic, and special guest Gabriel Swartland, Movio’s Regional Director & Vice President, EMEA took us through how to use data to elevate movie marketing.

The Numbers

  • Black Widow made $80M (USD) domestically for its box office weekend, plus an additional $79M internationally.
  • In a big break from tradition, Disney released the numbers for their streaming gross, revealing Black Widow made $60M worldwide over the weekend on Disney+.
  • Black Widow had a combined total of $219M.
  • Black Widow’s Friday made up 49% of its box office gross.
    • Compared to recent blockbuster F9, whose equivalent Friday was 43% of its debut weekend, or similar title Captain Marvel at 40%.
    • This showed a much more rapid drop-off than both Marvel movies in the past and recent tiles like F9 and A Quiet Place 2.

The Audience

“Absolutely a Marvel crowd” as Matthew put it. The top seven audience overlap titles were all other Marvel movies. Interestingly, the audience stayed very much in-line with the Marvel universe fans, rather than overlapping more with audiences for other female-led superhero movies like Wonder Woman 1984 or Birds of Prey.

Two out of five people seeing Black Widow were returning to the cinema for the first time since February, while on the other hand one out of five audience members had been at least five times in that same timeframe, showing some real avid moviegoers returning.

Matthew also touched on the (unfortunately-named) “couch-leakage” of moviegoers who opted to watch Black Widow at home rather than at the cinema. But as only 2% of Disney+ subscribers saw the film, there’s a huge chance for exhibitors still to tap into that audience.

Gabriel Swartland

Shifting to all things data; Gabriel took Matthew through all the key points of his recent blog on how behavioural and demographic data can elevate movie marketing. This interview was packed full of juicy detail, so be sure to listen to the full episode to hear all Gabriel had to offer.

Behavioural data was the hero of the conversation, with Gabriel offering some fantastic examples from recent audiences in the UK around A Quiet Place 2. Demographic data showed a male-skewed audience overall, but with the use of behavioural data he was able to identify that 70% of tickets were sold as pairs with a much closer 50/50 gender split, showing it was a very popular date movie, while single-ticket purchases skewed overall numbers male.

Behavioural data allows for some great insights that he highlighted, including the fact that over half—54%—of moviegoers in May in the UK were either newly returning customers, or entirely new customers.

The use of behavioural data all comes down to personalising content. Matthew and Gabriel spoke at length about the opportunities here, including creating personalised content like dynamic newsletters, and identifying who’s yet to return to cinemas. The untapped potential there tells cinemas who to focus their attentions on, and how to personalise those communications.

Capturing data is also key for cinemas. First-party data comes with incredibly rich opportunities to really find this behavioural data and personalise communications and interactions for moviegoers. With the changes in data privacy and transparency rising in importance constantly, first-party data collection and returning on the promise of that data collection is key for cinemas.

We'll be updating our podcast page each week with our latest episode so stay tuned for more highlights!

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