EMU Research: More Tweets Translate into Better Box Office Results


Members of the Michigan and Hollywood film industries, take notice. Research from Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti shows that just-released movies that create a greater Twitter presence are more likely to generate higher box-office revenue.

“Generally, word of mouth is generated from movie marketing focusing on traditional media channels such as TV, radio spots, billboards, newspaper, and even Internet advertising,” says Chong Oh, a professor of computer information systems at the EMU College of Business, who conducted the study. “However, with the emergence of social media and online networks such as Facebook and Twitter, movie studios not only have more opportunities to reach their audiences, but also face challenges of effectively utilizing these nascent channels’ impact and usefulness.”

The study — which looked at all 115 movies released from Nov. 21, 2012 to Jan. 11, 2013, excluding those without Twitter accounts — compared Twitter activity with each movie’s box office performance, in terms of opening-weekend gross revenue and attendance numbers. 

According to Oh, movies that engaged customers more often spurred greater word of mouth discussions about a given picture’s appeal, and thus related to increases in first-weekend attendance and profits. In this case, the films that fared best were, in order, The Hobbit, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Zero Dark Thirty, and Rise of the Guardians.

​“Twitter is a natural environment for social exchanges on many topics of interest, particularly motion picture entertainment,” Oh says. He adds Twitter posts, or tweets, can be sent and accessed from a variety of channels, including desktop, tablet, and mobile devices, which can lead to a higher intensity of word of mouth discussion.