Everyone knows by now that a new Star Wars movie is landing in theaters in just a few short weeks. It’s highly anticipated – and there’s a lot riding on success at the box office. So, Networked Insights has been tracking social conversations for Star Wars: The Force Awakens since the release of the first teaser trailer to get a confident read on how consumers feel about the new Star Wars film, whether they plan to go see it and what the studio can expect. (To learn more about how Networked Insights predicts box office success, read our earlier posts)
In the past few weeks a new Star Wars trailer and TV spot have been released and hundreds of thousands of conversations from movie-goers have been shared across the social web. Networked Insights analyzed every tweet mentioning the movie and categorized them three ways: 1) Is it an original tweet (organic content) 2) Is it a retweet 3) Does it express an intent to see the movie.
Additionally (using almost Jedi-like powers) we analyzed the emotions attached to each post to understand how movie-goers feel about the latest Star Wars trailer and footage to understand what emotions were triggered by the content and understand opportunities and potential pitfalls the studio can address now – before it’s too late. One thing we know for sure: People definitely don’t want Luke Skywalker to turn out to be the bad guy – and they’re getting really emotional about it.
Here’s what else we found out:
Yes. Star Wars will be HUGE.
As Obi-Wan would say, in our experience, there is no such thing as luck. Movie studios need to know before opening weekend how their movie is going to do – they can’t just cross their fingers and hope an audience shows up at the theater. One of the most reliable sources studios can use to know if their marketing is working is social data. Volume of posts along with intent to to see a movie as shown via social data is a leading indicator of success for a movie. So, how huge will Star Wars be? In comparison to other movies’ post levels during the seven days after their first trailer released, Star Wars: The Force Awakens got by far the most posts than any blockbuster to date. Impressive, most impressive. Coming in second, it’s Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice which launched its first trailer to an enthusiastic crowd during 2015 San Diego Comic Con which leveled 556,700 posts.
Search Your Feelings, Movie-Goers
There are certain emotions studios want to trigger in people’s hearts when they experience a piece of their movie. Love? Fear? Excitement? Amusement? How are viewers feeling about Star Wars?
Star Wars: The Force Awakens definitely has a prominent set of positive emotions attached to it. The top 6 emotional reactions were: Desire, Excitement, Love, Hope, and Happiness and Sadness. This is a good sign – studios generally do not want to see “hatred” or “confusion” associated with their trailers as that leads, well, to the dark side. For Star Wars: The Force Awakens, movie-goers are excited about the brand, love the new trailer and want to go see the movie.
The characters in the trailer most talked about overall are Stormtroopers, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Kylo Ren.
They’re tearing full speed toward box-office success. What could possibly go wrong?
It is highly unlikely that this movie will not shatter opening box office records this holiday season, even those set this summer by the unprecedented, Jurassic World. Star Wars merchandise is in every store, conversations are through the roof, and ticket sales are the highest and earliest ever recorded.
So, what could go wrong? Taking a look at the negative emotions we found 3 things that could spark disaster opening weekend and keep people away from the theater.
Confusion: A lot of fans are disappointed about Luke’s absence from the trailer. This has stirred rumors that now Luke has turned to the dark side as the movie’s villain Kylo Ren. Fans are confused about why J.J. Abrams would do this and what kind of lesson this would teach their kids.
Anger: Movie-goers are angry about the way ticket sales are being distributed. Tix are hard to find for nearby theaters and this could lead to people to skip opening weekend, just see the movie some other time in the coming year or even in the comfort of their home.
Hatred: A real negative comes in the form of discussions that are centered on new primary characters played by actors who are African-American, which is unfortunately spiking racist conversations. But this is a complex finding – could the studio use these new characters as an opportunity to expand Star Wars’ appeal to diverse audiences?