Using Analytics to Predict Hollywood Blockbusters

Analytics helps us to connect pieces of research, identifying the right elements to create a unique experience. “Jurassic World” movie is the perfect case study on how research, facts and behaviors can support a multibillion dollar franchise.

Not Another Sequel

We all went ”ugh… please-not-another-sequel!” when we heard the rumor of a Jurassic Park sequel. Apparently, we were wrong. Against all odds and rumors, the dino-action sequel literally ate box office records, with a staggering 208.8 million domestically this weekend, making it the highest grossing opening weekend film of all time.

As of today, Mr. T-Rex is the richest dinusaur in the world. 1.672 billion USD box office worldwide. Raawrr!! Grossing a total of $652,270,625 in USA and $1,019,442,583 internationally. Roughly $600 millions are from Asian markets, China and South Korea leading in Asia; UK, France, and Germany in Europe and finally Mexico and Brazil in Latin America respectively.

The industry is changing the way they do business and technology is doing its part. Analytics tools had proven to be successful, making connections between pieces of research, identifying facts and behaviors. Jurassic World is relevant example of this The audience ‘body language’ was pretty clear: On that weekend, the re-post rate for Jurassic videos on YouTube was 45 to 1 (the average is 9 to 1). The trailer on the official Universal channel got 66.6m views (multi-channel networks money well invested) Twitter almost broke: #JurassicWorld peaked at 63K. The “conversation” for the film was very high and very positive on social media that weekend. Thousands and millions share trailers with their community, on multiple social channels. And that’s intent of purchase…like a kiss. Plus, no big sports events or soccer matches on TV that weekend. Add shirtless Chris Pratt and school calendars and TV were packed with dino-theme curricula. Finally, people just love seeing Pterosaurs munching on tourists! Go family-friendly entertainment! Jurassic World broke box office, scoring the biggest opening weekend in history with a sweet $511.8 million in tickets sales worldwide, outdoing even Harry Potter.

Timing is everything

“Jurassic World” was shrewdly positioned as the June blockbuster to beat, ceding April to “Furious 7” and steering clear of “Avengers: Age of Ultron’s” May release. After “Tomorrowland” flopped over Memorial Day, there was some gum-flapping among box office analysts about whether Universal erred in not putting “Jurassic World” over the four-day holiday. In retrospect, it was the perfect move. The box office, which was coming off of three consecutive lackluster weekends, needed to cool down before it could heat up again.

“You could see this coming after a number of films that didn’t live up to expectations,” said Jeff Bock, a box office analyst with Exhibitor Relations. “There was just this hunger for a big summer tentpole film.”

The studio benefited from timing of another sort. Over the past decade and a half, the fourth “Jurassic Park” saw various filmmakers and screenwriters, such as “The Departed’s” William Monahan and “I Robot’s” Alex Proyas, come on board before getting tossed aside after failing to find the right creative direction for the film. The tortured development worked in “Jurassic World’s” favor, giving it distance from “Jurassic World III,” which is generally considered to be the series’ nadir, and lending the franchise a feeling of freshness.

Premium formats are prime

The Indominus rex, basically a T-rex on steroids, demanded to be seen on the biggest, widest, most souped-up screens possible. That meant that “Jurassic World” got a major boost from premium large format and Imax screens, along with 3D showings. The sequel took in 48% of its domestic opening weekend receipts from 3D screens while setting new high-water marks for Imax and private label PLF screens.

Those formats were in their infancy when “Jurassic Park III” was in theaters — 3D was still a novelty and Imax was reserved for nature films.

“I use my kids as a bit of a barometer,” said Anthony Marcoly, president of worldwide cinema for 3D-maker RealD. “They’ve seen the ‘Jurassic Park’ movies before, but they’ve seen them on TV or DVD. They haven’t had a chance to see a ‘Jurassic’ movie on these big [premium large format] screens or in 3D. People wanted to be brought into the world of ‘Jurassic’ and to see it in a grand fashion and just be drawn into the story.”

It also helped that Trevorrow talked up the virtues of seeing “Jurassic World” with all the extra bells and whistles on promotional videos and by appearing before screenings at the Imax TCL Theater in Los Angeles.

“This is a shared experience,” he told the crowd at one of these events. “It’s why we go to the movies.”

The exhibition industry has taken its knocks for not keeping up with the digital revolution that has upended the entertainment landscape, but “Jurassic World’s” success with tinted specs and sprawling screens demonstrates the lengths that theaters have gone to differentiate their experience from the one found in the living room or at the keyboard. Times have changed, of course, but some of it’s for the better.

Dinosaurs ripping apart humans = appropriate for children of all ages

It’s been 26 years since “Jurassic Park” first illustrated the dangers of bringing velociraptors back to life, and in that time one generation of film fans has come of age and another has emerged. That means that a group of moviegoers who were first weaned on popcorn pics with that first film have grown up and were eager to introduce their sons and daughters to the magic of a T-rex rampage.

To familiarize a new group to the pleasures of the park, Universal reissued “Jurassic Park” in 3D in 2013 in conjunction with its 20th anniversary. It also primed the pump in a nice piece of corporate synergy, hosting a special presentation of “Jurassic Park” last week on NBCUniversal Networks that included interviews with Pratt and Spielberg. The film and TV stations share a corporate parent in Comcast.

The PG-13 rating made the prospect of seeing pterosaurs treat tourists like birdseed something of a family event. That resulted in an opening weekend crowd that was 39% under the age of 25, a demographic that hadn’t been born or was barely verbal when the first film debuted.

“We’re getting everybody and that includes parents with kids,” said Carpou.

Hollywood take note. That’s how you build a blockbuster.

Making Sense of fragmented audiences

Audiences consume and interact with information in unexpected ways, so you have to be tuned in real-time. Consider what’s going on in the analytics and reports, and out of them. Data is generated and delivered by the same audience you are trying to connect, from video channels, chat, social media and tweets. Paying attention to the ‘vibe’ or body language cues can go a long way. Use them to your advantage. Analytics can be tricky, but they are just the tip of the data iceberg. Keep your cool, be yourself and be responsive. Pick your actions accordingly and maybe it could be the start of an unforgettable relationship.

Yesterday afternoon, Marvel Studios showed some chivalry by releasing a poster (a tweet by president Kevin Feige) congratulating Steven Spielberg and the Universal Studios team, Director Colin Trevorrow and golden boy Chris Pratt for beating the hero team, since their lost their title as the previous record holder. With these numbers, we will be seeing more Jurassic (probably without ‘The Park’) in the future.


UX Designers: Bestias Fantásticas y dónde encontrarlas.

Cada vez que me preguntan  “¿Que es un diseñador de UX?” Lo primero que pienso es… ¿por donde empiezo?. Parecería que un especialista en UX es como un  animal mítico del que todos hablan y, pocos han visto uno.

WTF es UX Design?

El primer punto en este camino es aclarar que que diseño de UX no es diseño visual. Muchos conectan equivocamente al especialista en UX con diseño gráfico y, viceversa, muchos diseñadores graficos son “diseñadores UX/UI” (esta mezcla de disciplinas me da miedo!!) Si bien ambas disciplinas comparten ADN, la realidad es que son dos criaturas muy distintas. El rol de un especialista en UX es muy diferente. Es importante tener una vision holistica de las disciplinas que intervienen para generar una experiencia de usuario, pero el profesional de UX es una bestia aparte, a menudo, incomprendida por las empresas, y considerada como un lujo. “El diseño no es sólo cómo se ve o cómo se siente: Diseño es cómo funciona”, nos dijo una vez Steve Jobs y, realmente estoy deacuerdo.

Diseñador es alguien que aplica metodologías y prácticas de Design Thinking para resolver cualquier tipo de desafíos, ya sea de negocios o personales. Quizás aplicas estos procesos durante tu dia y no te das cuenta. Yo he visto a mi madre “Prototipar” con post-its haciendo una lista de mercado y como podría ahorrar tiempo en el supermercado a partir de un diagrama de ‘navegación’ y sus ‘objetivos’ de compra.

El segundo punto en esta definición tienen que ver con el enfoque que se busca en cada proyecto o cliente. Para algunos, el rol del UX specialist va mas allá de la plataforma y ven a los usuarios como clientes que utilizan herramientas digitales para interactuar con las organizaciones y sus productos. Para otros, es una especialidad dentro de la experiencia del cliente, pero en cada uno de sus definiciones, el punto en común es el usuario.

El especialista UX busca representar y comprender al usuario -y aun mas allá de eso- educar a las organizaciones y equipos de trabajo, acerca de las necesidades, desafíos y puntos críticos de los mismos, y luego alentar al equipo, trabajando en conjunto para crear una mejor experiencia.

Perfiles de UX designers segun su background

INVESTIGADORES 

Disciplina de nicho, muchas veces es considerada un lujo más que una necesidad. Los investigadores ayudan a las empresas a desarrollar un plan de investigación para conocer en profundidad a su publico y usuarios a través de diferentes metodologías. Encuestas, entrevistas, pruebas de usabilidad y resonancia de marcas, estudios etnográficos, etc, proveen a las empresas datos cuantitativos y cualitativos revelando preferencias, detalles, lógica de interacción y emociones para el uso de productos y cumplimiento de metas de negocio.

ESTRATEGAS

Desarrollan proyectos de investigación y diseño. Toman los datos y conclusiones obtenidos en la investigación y los sintetizan en un sistema de diseño de alto nivel, crean identidades o perfiles de usuario, escenarios y journeys. Los estrategas generan un sistema de diseño abstracto que sirve como modelo conceptual para crear un modelo concreto y real.

ARQUITECTOS DE INFORMACIÓN

Los arquitectos de información son el punto de transición entre la estrategia y el diseño, aportando una vision general del usuarios a quienes esta destinado el producto o servicio y resolviendo el diseño abstracto en una experiencia completa. Desarrolla los site maps, wireframes, describiendo en detalle cómo las interacciones del usuario deberían comportarse desde un punto de vista funcional.

DISEÑADORES DE INTERACCIÓN

Muy parecido a los AI, con la diferencia que su resultado proviene de la evaluación Heurística (EH), un análisis de usabilidad y calidad de uso de una interfaz desde patrones existentes, relación entre el sistema y el mundo real, consistencias y estándares, flexibilidad de uso, diseño minimalista y/o experiencia personal.

STORYTELLERS

Proporcionan una comprensión detallada de las estructuras de contenidos (noticias, sub-títulos, teasers, cuerpo, imágenes, etc.), taxonomías (estructuras jerárquicas para categorizar y relacionar el contenido) y el storytelling emotivo que forma la historia generando en una narrativa global que crea un impacto y adhesion en el usuario.

DISEÑADORES VISUALES

Los diseñadores visuales tomar el wireframe y lo convierten en diseño, recursos o assets necesarios para hacer un producto real. Muchos diseñadores cuentan con background en print, tipografías, identidad de marca, etc. Los buenos diseñadores visuales entienden que la usabilidad, elementos cognitivos y jerarquías de la UX pueden son afectados por color, tipografía y composición, teniendo un fuerte impacto en la experiencia de usuario más allá del atractivo estético.

INGENIEROS DE UI

Transforman los documentos de diseño en productos reales. Dependiendo del nivel de complejidad de los proyectos, pueden tener un background como ingenieros de software o experiencia en desarrollos web. Son pocos los profesionales de este subconjunto que puede realizar todo, desde investigación hasta implementación.

Espero esta mini guía sirva de ayuda a la hora de buscar un perfil, ya sea generalista, especifico o híbrido de estas disciplinas. Lo importante es tener en claro cual es el foco del proyecto o de nuestro cliente, nuestro primer usuario. Te comparto una frase de Donald Norman, un capo de la ciencia cognitiva, Co-Fundador del grupo Nielsen y ex VP de Investigación de Apple:

“No es suficiente que creamos productos que funcionen, que sean comprensibles y utilizables, también necesitamos construir productos que traigan alegría y emoción, placer y diversión, y además, la belleza de la vida a las personas”.


The new audience identity

Understanding your audience in this ever-complex marketplace requires a unique ability to combine massive amounts of measurement information with the right perspective.

While entertainment industry is changing the way they do business, technology is doing its part. Analytics tools had proven to be successful, making connections between pieces of research, identifying facts and behaviors. But if we want to understand how our audiences interact with our content, we might need to change how questions are made.

The New Audience Format

Spoiler alert. There's is no audience format anymore. Audiences have grown to become agnostic, nomadic, multi-tasking, experiential and very direct. There are no two viewers alike. In the same demographic, they might not share the same interests. Most of the time they are ‘uninspired’ by expensive Networks marketing extravaganzas. Options multiply with every tweet, facebook like or selfie ever taken. If you’re not reaching, engaging, and monetizing your audience, you’re likely losing them to someone else.

Changing the concept of engagement

When it comes to understanding, all the information you can get is important. But you have to be smart and sensitive in order to relate effectively. Read the signs, get feedback, and adjust your approach as necessary. Think of an audience in terms of a “first date”. Analytics can give you a way to read your audience “body language”. You’ll get tons of real time feedback. From measurement tools, analytics apps and marketing research, you get to embed with your product, and how much you can play out. It’s important to have all the details, but the key is to understand how to read the information. You got to be responsive.

A subtle smile, eye contact, mirroring, head-tilt, all require a bit of interpersonal sensitivity. Look at the trends in the social media; keep an eye on relevant comments. The right timing or even the weather can give you a metric that algorithms might have missed. Take a moment, observe, and the pointers will become visible. You’ll actually see your audience ‘body language’ the way Neo sees The Matrix.

A relevant example is the movie Jurassic World. The audience ‘body language’ was pretty clear: On that weekend, the re-post rate for Jurassic videos on YouTube was 45 to 1 (the average is 9 to 1). The trailer on the official Universal channel got 66.6m views (multi-channel networks money well invested) Twitter almost broke: #JurassicWorld peaked at 63K. The “conversation” for the film was very high and very positive on social media that weekend. Thousands and millions share trailers with their community, on multiple social channels. And that’s intent of purchase...like a kiss. Plus, no big sports events or soccer matches on TV that weekend. Add shirtless Chris Pratt and school calendars and TV were packed with dino-theme curricula. Finally, people just love seeing Pterosaurs munching on tourists! Go family-friendly entertainment! Jurassic World broke the box office, scoring the biggest opening weekend in history with a sweet $511.8 million in tickets sales worldwide, outdoing even Harry Potter. Universal Studios had a nice date!

Conclusion. Audiences consume and interact with information in unexpected ways, so you have to be tuned in real-time. Consider what’s going on in the analytics and reports, and outs of them. Data is generated and delivered by the same audience you are trying to connect, from video channels, chat, social media and tweets. Paying attention to the ‘vibe’ or body language cues can go a long way. Use them to your advantage. Analytics can be tricky, but they are just the tip of the data iceberg. Keep your cool, be yourself and be responsive. Pick your actions accordingly and maybe it could be the start of an unforgettable relationship.


Some amazing buildings

Minimalism and geometric.

When you are alone for days or weeks at a time, you eventually become drawn to people. Talking to randos is the norm. I’ll never forget the conversation with the aquarium fisherman, forest ranger, and women at the Thai market. It’s refreshing to compare notes on life with people from vastly different backgrounds.

When you meet fellow travelers, you’ll find they are also filled with a similar sense of adventure and curiosity about the world. Five days of friendship on the road is like five months of friendship at home. It’s the experiences that bond you together, not the place. A rule I followed that worked well: be the first to initiate conversation. I met some incredible people by simply being the first to talk.

Long term travel is different than a luxury vacation. The point is to see the world, not stay in a 5-star hotel. During the trip, I stayed on a strict budget. The goal was to spend no more than $33 per day on accommodations. After a year, I was able to spend only $26.15 per day by booking through HostelWorld and Airbnb. When I wanted to meet people, I’d stay in a shared room at a hostel. When I wanted to be alone, I’d book a private room with Airbnb.

Take the cost of your rent or mortgage + food per month and divide it by 30. This is how much it costs per day to live at home. You will find that it’s possible to travel the world for roughly the same amount. Or, if you live in an expensive city like San Francisco, far less.

An universal language.

I was surprised how many people spoke English (apparently 1.8 billion people worldwide). Places where English was less prevalent, I made an effort to learn a handful of words and phrases in the local language. Even though it’s passable, I do desire to learn another language fluently. You can only take the conversation so far when all you can say is: “¿Esto contiene gluten?”

It’s possible to communicate a lot without saying a word. For instance, I left my phone at a restaurant in Chile. I pointed at the table where I was sitting, put my hand to my ear like a phone, then shrugged — 2 minutes later, my phone had been retrieved.


I was recently quoted as saying, I don't care if Instagram has more users than Twitter. If you read the article you’ll note there’s a big “if” before my not giving of said thing.
Of course, I am trivializing what Instagram is to many people. It’s a beautifully executed app that enables the creation and enjoyment of art, as well as human connection, which is often a good thing. But my rant had very little to do with it (or with Twitter). My rant was the result of increasing frustration with the one-dimensionality that those who report on, invest in, and build consumer Internet services talk about success.

Numbers are important. Number of users is important. So are lots of other things. Different services create value in different ways. Trust your gut as much (or more) than the numbers. Figure out what matters and build something good.

THE FUTURE OF YOUNG AUDIENCES

Younger generations are influenced by a diet of digital content at a very early age, fragmenting the audiences in a million different directions. Social media, online channels, video-games, mobile devices…it feels like a rat race for some of the distributors, licensees, and networks to defend their ‘real estate’ before is too late.

With the alarming shift of young people to consume mostly online content, networks are experiencing a demographic migration that might be tough to reverse. Recently a lot of buzz splashed the news about MTV struggle with the shrinking of their audience. But this is happening all across the board: Time Warner, Scripps Networks Interactive, NBCUniversal, Discovery, A+E Networks, Disney Jr. and ESPU all showed declines. The reason: many young viewers are watching programming on smartphones and tablets which are not included in the ratings, resulting in ad revenue decline. Networks are trying to reverse the trend of investing in programming and research, but the results are still in the works. Analyst agreed that Nielsen numbers aren’t the base for cable operators ad revenue, but they are indicative of trends. The question is how this will reflect on subscriber numbers in the long run.

This might sound as bad news, but depending on the perspective, this could be the glass half-full. Executives and cable providers were awakened by this decline to find new ways to make up that revenue. If played well, this shift can be view as a power-up for Cable Networks to find their Ch’i. This much needed “revival” would not only help companies to stabilize revenue but most likely could grow the linear TV business as a whole.

Children’s programming is crucial to pay-TV

Operators generally target families, becoming key drivers of on-demand offerings. Netflix is one of the largest provider of online children’s content through output agreements with DreamworksCartoon Network and movie deals with DisneyViacom moved their kid's deals to Amazon and Discovery moved its children’s content to Hulu. The cross-platform world is changing rapidly and the only way to keep up -and more important to lead- is to embrace innovation. Understanding innovation is more than tech, apps or social marketing, but as a mindset about how we approach business. It is a game-changer event.

Several companies are marching to this beat already. PBS is launching a free 24/7 multiplatform PBS KIDS on mobile devices and Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Xbox One and Chromecast. AT&T is rebranding all TV products to AT&T Entertainment, moving in the next years to a cloud DVD architecture. ABC and Marvel TV just launched “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Academy.” A digital series aimed to engage fans to compete in the show. From the first “IronMan” movie and now with “The Force Awaken”, Marvel and Disney are building audience strategies for years to come.

Even Xbox users already spend more time watching video than playing games with the device and heavyweights like NickelodeonHulu and Dailymotion are partnering to create another avenue to connect with their audiences. Disney and Saban are also investing in a viral content platform “Playbuzz” to create and distribute content into social media outlets. A few days ago E! launched a daily Facebook Live talk show expanding the social giant’s push to bring premium content to their live streaming service. Comedy Central expanded the slate of original content for instant-image messaging app SnapChat to sell advertising packages with its TV clients.

Also, the NFL and the MLB are going after young audiences, encouraging their stars to reach out to fans via Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. The focus is to motivate youngsters who are not watching football or baseball on TV (but spending hours on digital) to watch streaming matches online and mobile. NBCU made a savvy move announcing a consolidated upfront -including Telemundo- next May in NYC since networks are selling advertising across platforms and marketers are targeting interrelated audiences.

These initiatives serve both content and business. The result is a much more efficient TV content, generating deeper engagement, thus building profitable revenue streams outside traditional pay-TV universe.

Today is the multi-platform online revolution, tomorrow maybe is something else, but innovation will always be the constant. Is the ability to transform the business and identifying what plays the best. A thought from Viktor Frankl comes to my mind: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves”.


How to create a hit with a low budget and a clever strategy

Deadpool has always been a fairly popular Marvel character among hardcore fans, but relatively unknown to the rest of the world…until today. He’s a kind of quirkish, snarky anti-hero with a natural ability to break the fourth wall to communicate with his readers/audience, usually to mock the super hero cliché. Against all odds, Deadpool made it to the big screen, and compared to others in the same genre, with a tiny $58 million budget.

From the buzz and temperature of social conversations from these past weeks, looks like Deadpool is going to break some barriers over the weekend and the people at Fox and TSG(financiers of Fox live action movies) are going to be celebrating next week. Why? Because they had created a hit out of nowhere. And off course, the movie is pretty entertaining, despite the R rated label. Looks like someone at Fox marketing is planning and executing the right way some key strategic moves:

1.Release date

Deadpool probably will beat their weekend competition in this long president weekend.Zoolander 2 have drawn on nostalgia viewership and also a good campaign to cash on tickets to save the day. And How to be Single, the Dakota Johnson romantic flic, well…is just that. Deadpool release date feels like it was “under the radar” in the distribution timeline because there are literally not many movies for grown-up audiences to go. Big Oscars contenders have their on fight last week, Fifth Wave is a bore, and Zootopia is due next week, so Deadpool has a green wave to rise above the numbers. Plus, is Valentine weekend, with basically no “The Notebook” movies in sight. So this quirky potty-mouthed anti-hero is the royal ambassador of anti-valentine audiences.

2.Marketing Campaign

We all know that a box office hit need good PR and Marketing strategy, but honestly, most of the studios FAIL on these matter, and don’t tell me because of the budget. Advertising is not all about showing the movie trailer or character posters here and there. Its about building a brand. The marketing around the upcoming film has been nothing short of phenomenal, deserving of a glowing five out of five chimichangas. The trailers and promos for the film have all been tongue in cheek and absolutely hilarious, playing off of different trends and tropes to create unique communications. Seriously, if the ads are this good, just imagine what awaits fans in the theaters (eat your heart out Star Wars). Even they did a Valentine style campaign that is just brilliant

3.Social Media Strategy

We’re living in a postmodern, meme-culture, hero over saturated age. Audiences are CRAVING for some originality. No more remakes, no more sequels, no more cinematic universes with happy meal toys and epic superhero faces in a box of cornflakes. Deadpool itself is a bit of a snarky commentary on the over exposure of the genre, even an R-rated very violent superhero movie, but guess what, its unique. The audience age is that perfect 18-34 years old, which are highly social users. So, its no surprise that online conversations about Deadpool are hot on Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, you name it, where fans can engage and engage others. The movie has been promoted virtually only through social media. In fact, the movie was only green-lit after test footage was “leaked” on social media. Fox released a red-band trailer unsuitable for TV, and the movie landed an R-rating. So marketing made up for the lack of television ads with their creative social media campaign. During the holidays, they spoofed the 12 Days of Christmas, with #12DaysofDeadpool, which spotlighted special content released each day. The content included downloadable videos, pics and emoji’s. And also took over Valentines with fake gushy romantic Ads all over the internet and street billboard.

 

The big man @ ComScore, Paul Dergarabedian, said this today about Deadpool: “This may be the first movie of 2016 that kind of elevates everything, and gets that box office momentum charged.” Sweet remark. Againits all about building a brand. 

The movie is also off to an impressive start overseas, with a tracking of more than $90 million for the weekend. Deapool is on fire at the box office today: it began playing at 7 p.m. in 2,975 locations; on Friday, it expanded into a total of 3,558 runs, including Imax locations. The Imax portion of Thursday night’s haul was $2.3 million, the sixth biggest preview ever for the large-format circuit.

Once ranked nr. 182nd out of 200 in the popularity list of Marvel properties, Deadpool is on its way to become a success. The movie probably step over the heels of Guardians of the Galaxy ($94.3 million) and Captain America: The Winter Soldier($95 million) and likely score the biggest R-rated opening of all time. Tip of the hat to the marketing team @ Fox.

Deadpool, starring the sexy-mouthy Ryan Reynolds, beautiful Morena Baccarin, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller and Gina Cara, all directed by Tim Miller.