Do YouTube Movie Trailer Searches Correlate to Box Office Success?

Do YouTube Movie Trailer Searches Correlate to Box Office Success?

In a research study conducted by Google called "Quantifying Movie Magic with Google Search," the search giant looked into how Google searches and YouTube searches correlated to box office returns later.  Now, there's no surprise here, that popular movies are also popular searches.  But looking into variables in Google's search data, Google could determine how successful a movie would be at the box office at a rate of 92 percent.  With YouTube, the accuracy is at 94 percent.  Since we're all about the video here at ReelSEO, let's take a look at what they found about movie trailers on YouTube.

YouTube Data for Movie Trailers

The variables Google looked at for search data were:

  • Search query volume (7 days prior to release)
  • Search ad click volume (7 days prior to release)
  • Theater count (how many theaters/screens the movie is playing on)
  • Franchise status (are they part of a popular franchise or a potential "midnight blockbuster")

These variables netted a 92 percent success rate in predicting box office.  They found that if one movie has 250,000 more search queries than another movie, it likely makes up to $4.3 million more on opening weekend.

For trailers, Google found out that most people find out about a movie four weeks in advance of its release date, often coinciding with the release of a trailer.  Coupling trailer-related searches with franchise status and seasonality metrics (does it open in the summer, or holidays?) they found that they could predict box office variance at 94 percent.  Here's how each of these search queries predict box office on their own over the four weeks before the movie's release:

Do YouTube Movie Trailer Searches Correlate to Box Office Success?

Google concludes the availability of content, specifically trailers, is important for moviegoers in making the decision to go or not.  The searches four weeks before the movie's release have the strongest link to intent, because fans of the film are the first to search for it.

For more on this study, click here.

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About the Author -
Chris Atkinson joined ReelSEO in 2011. He is a longtime film and television reviewer, and has almost two decades of experience in the theater industry. He also writes on his personal blog - View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • B.J. Mendelson

    I don't usually do this, but I wrote the book, "Social Media Is Bullshit" ( and in there I showed how Watchmen and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, which both had tremondous online buzz leading up to the release of the films, were duds in the box office. So, this study above? Total bullshit.

  • DavidAugust

    Without box office per screen discussed, nor the methodology of their analysis, this may just be an ad for marketing on Google's properties.

    • Purcival

      That's how I felt about it. I was able to dissect the information but I feel a lot of things were left out and some of it was elaborated on too much.

      All in all it's a great piece of information.