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Breaking the Blockbuster Code: Audience Evolution Patterns Revealed

Download the White Paper below

Most people in the film industry agree that the audience of a tentpole film on opening night is a good indicator of its target audience and who will see it over the full theatrical run. Well, this is arguable.

The Movio data science team analyzed the audience of Straight Outta Compton over time. They found that the audience profile completely changed within the first two weeks of the film’s release, which we found fascinating.

With these insights in mind, we analyzed the audience profile for Star Wars: The Force Awakens from advanced ticket sales, and realized that the opening night audience was heavily skewing male (70.4%). Once the film opened we saw a dramatic evolution of this film’s audience over the first week. The gender distribution was 72% male on opening night, down 9.7% (65%) by Sunday, and another 7.7% (61%) by the following Thursday. 

These insights got us thinking. What if audience evolution was not an exception, but in fact, the reality for blockbuster audiences as a rule?

Our data science team started by looking at other top-grossing movies of 2015: Jurassic World, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Furious 7 which all showed a similar trend in the time-evolution of the gender split as Star Wars:

  • The female audience increases by 20% consistently within the first three days (38% vs 32%).
  • The opening night audience is three to four years younger than the Saturday and Sunday audiences.
  • The opening night audience sees an average of 2.1 more movies per year than the Saturday and Sunday audiences (12.9 vs 10.8).

These insights suggested that blockbuster audiences do generally evolve over time.

Our next step was to investigate how to characterize this evolution and the factors that drive it, and to then consider what this may mean for a film studio’s marketing strategy:

  • How would your marketing strategy change if you understood how the audience was likely to evolve on any given film?
  • Once a film has been released, what marketing initiatives could be initiated based on how the audience pattern is evolving?

For more on what we discovered download the complete White Paper below.

This research was originally presented at Variety’s 'MASSIVE: The Entertainment Marketing Summit' held in LA, followed by a spotlight conversation with Variety Co-Editor-In-Chief Andrew Wallenstein. This unique one-day summit is dedicated to the entertainment business and shared ideas between advertisers, studios and TV content partners, digital media brands and next-generation technology leaders. MASSIVE explores the best strategies to advance entertainment and brand awareness as consumers scatter across new media options, multiplying screens and platforms.

Featured image photo credit - Photo by Rob Latour.

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