Moviegoers flock to the theaters during the holiday season, and Hollywood always celebrates with blockbuster releases.
This year is no exception.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 opened with weekend box office ticket sales of $141.3 million in the U.S., making it the eighth most profitable opening weekend in movie-going history. Theatergoers were flocking to see the final installment based upon Stephanie Meyer's mega-popular books about vampire love. In this finale of five movies over the past four years, newlyweds Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) are getting used to their newborn daughter when news of the baby's arrival triggers a chain of events that pits the Cullens and their allies against the Volturi, a fearsome set of vampire leaders.
The latest James Bond 007 movie, Skyfall, starring Daniel Craig as Bond, is the 23rd movie based upon Ian Fleming's popular book and movie franchise about a spy working for the British government. Opening with $87.8 million in weekend box office ticket sales, the movie portrays James Bond once again traveling the world to track down the bad guys who attacked his agency of Her Majesty's Government. Skyfall has been the most successful box-office opening in 50 years of Bond movies, which began with the premier of Dr. No in 1962.
Both Twilight and Skyfall are part of best-selling franchises and both dominated the box office during their respective release weekends, but box office receipts aren't the only way to measure a movie's success.
In the age of Twitter, IBM and the University of Southern California's Annenberg Innovation Lab are teaming up on the "Film Forecaster," a social sentiment index, to analyze positive and negative comments about movies shared in millions of public tweets. The system uses sophisticated analytics and processes "natural language," or the language we speak, to measure moviegoers opinions as they are expressed in public social forums.
Along with Twilight: Breaking Dawn and Skyfall, the Film Forecaster evaluated five million tweets over an 11-day period of other Hollywood blockbusters either playing or opening Thanksgiving weekend, such as Wreck-It-Ralph, Flight, The Man with the Iron Fists, Life of Pi, Red Dawn and Rise of the Guardians.
And, as they say on Oscar night: "and the winner is ... Twilight."
Twilight generated about $64 million in ticket sales over the holiday weekend (Wednesday-Sunday), according to Box Office Mojo, or 22 percent of the total revenue for the biggest Hollywood holiday movie going weekend on record.
The chatter on Twitter for an 11-day period, however, offered a different perspective. Here's what we found:
Despite leading the pack with 4.25 million tweets compared to runner-up Skyfall with 700,000, Twilight's positive sentiment dropped from 90 percent at pre-release to 75 percent on Saturday, Nov. 24. Some of the tweeted words were perceived as negative, though not necessarily about the movie, but the majority captured moviegoers' "sadness" that the series was ending.
Skyfall maintained a sentiment ratio of 9:1, receiving consistent positive tweets, and shared similar results to Thanksgiving weekend newcomers Red Dawn (96 percent positive average), Life of Pi (91 percent) and Rise of the Guardians at 99 percent.
On Thanksgiving Day, Rise of the Guardians generated the highest number of positive tweets, followed by The Man with the Iron Fists and Red Dawn.
Flight, starring Oscar contender Denzel Washington received only 6,410 tweets, but most tweets were positive.
On opening day, Twilight received more than one million tweets, 78 percent expressed positive sentiment. The majority of the remaining sentiment reflected the audience's emotional reaction to the "tear-jerking" moments in the movie, which was not necessarily negative.
The collaboration between USC Annenberg and IBM is part of an ongoing initiative to demonstrate how advanced analytics technologies applied to big data can help Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) in the sports, entertainment, retail, and news industries derive valuable insights from online public sentiment. The Film Forecaster study is the latest in a series that has included social sentiment studies tied to the Super Bowl, World Series and the Oscars.
In fact, measuring who and what is trending in the Twitter-verse is a way for organizations in the media and entertainment industry to interpret and take advantage of all the big data made available from social media posts, digital pictures and videos -- to better understand their audiences.
Currently less than a third of media and entertainment CMOs are tracking blogs and only 35 percent are tracking online consumer-generated reviews, according to the 2011 IBM Global CMO Study. By gaining real-time insights into customer and fan preferences, movie marketers can deliver the movies, services and marketing campaigns that moviegoers want to see.