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Are YouTube Trailer Views Predicting Box Office Success?

The Hollywood Reporter has released an interesting article about the correlation between YouTube trailer views and box office success on opening weekend. Independent tracking website “Box Office Reports” analyzed data for 421 movies released in the US since 2017 and the Hollywood Reporter looks at the findings in the article.
And according to the findings YouTube trailer views are a good, but not perfect gauge for box office success on opening weekend. The correlation between the trailer views and opening weekend box office is 0.86, which means there is a significant positive correlation between YouTube trailer views and box office (with 0 meaning there is no correlation at all and 1 meaning it’s a perfect positive correlation, 0.86 is a very high correlation). Now the interesting question is: what does that mean for Rise of Skywalker? Trailer views for the movie are rather low. Click through for more!

Now, of course there are also outliers, movies that either under- or overperform based on what you’d expect from their trailer views on YouTube, but generally speaking, looking at the views gives you a good overall idea about how a movie will most likely perform.

Joker amassed 75 million clicks for its trailer, and that movie performed exceptionally well at the box office. Endgame even broke records, and that movie performed exceptionally well too.

According to the findings from Box Office Reports every additional 1 million views is – on average – equal to $1.14 milion additional revenue on opening weekend. The Hollywood Reporter goes into more detail and will also show you some graphs and presents some additional data.

What I want to talk about now is, if this finding by Box Office Reports could spell trouble for Rise of Skywalker.

For this, let’s take yet another look at the trailer views for each trilogy movie, now that the trailer for Rise of Skywalker has been out for several weeks:

  • The Force Awakens: 104.4 million
  • The Last Jedi: 53.9 million
  • The Rise of Skywalker: 27.7 million

The other movies/shows:

  • Rogue One: 38 million views
  • Solo: 18.8 million views
  • The Mandalorian: 19.5 million views

These are all from the official Star Wars channel. Now the first two movies had much more time to accumulate views, but a typical YouTube video and trailers as well, get the vast majority of their views in the first few days, maybe up to three weeks, after that growth is minimal. Perhaps the Rise of Skywalker trailer will have more than 30 million views by the time the movie is released, but that doesn’t change the overall picture.

Rise of Skywalker has the fewest trailer views for a sequel trilogy movie by far. When we look at trailer views for the Star Wars movies we see that yes, the views mirror box office success, with TFA making the most money, TLJ a distant second, then Rogue One, then Solo, far far behind. As a comparison, the first Mandalorian trailer has 19.5 million views, more than Solo. Jumanji 2, which opens a week before Rise of Skywalker has 29 million trailer views, to provide some perspective.

Now what does that mean for Rise of Skywalker? As the Hollywood Reporter Article points out there are outliers. Both the latest Spider-Man movie and Venom had a somewhat better opening weekend than trailer views would have implied, maybe Rise of Skywalker will also perform better than one could expect based on trailer views.

But the question remains if Rise of Skywalker is in for a much lower than expected  opening weekend Рand thus overall box office Рand if interest is really that low. It is certainly cause for concern, I think, that interest in the trailer is so low. Either the hardcore fans who used to watch a trailer 10 times only watched it once or not at all (and thus inflated trailer views for TFA and TLJ before) or general interest is really not all that high.

Based on the trend from the trailer views, Rise of Skywalker should have a better opening weekend than Solo which made $84.4 million on its opening 3-day weekend, $103 million if you include Memorial Day, but it would have a much worse opening weekend than both Rogue One ($155 million) and Last Jedi ($220 million). I think Disney would be very disappointed if Rise of Skywalker only made about $120 million on its opening weekend. It’s almost unimaginable even that Episode IX will not be a huge hit and outperform at least Rogue One and Last Jedi. But according to the trailer views it may actually perform much worse than both.

In about four weeks we will know if the YouTube trailer views for Rise of Skywalker predicted opening weekend box office success (more like failure, in this case) or if the final installment of the Skywalker saga is an outlier and performs much better than trailer views would indicate.

For more details about the relationship between YouTube trailer views and opening weekend box office success, including some more data, please go to the Hollywood Reporter website!


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