Univeral Amplifier

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When Media Mentions and Sales Don’t Add Up

Two summer blockbuster movies – “Hercules” starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and “Lucy” starring Scarlett Johansson — hit the screens this past weekend. From New York City to Los Angeles, theater goers had at least two new choices. While both films had nearly identical numbers of media mentions, there was a clear monetary/audience winner at the box office. Here are some observations from our media measurement team at Universal Information Services.

“Lucy,” written, directed and edited by Luc Besson, outsold “Hercules” by $15 million in the opening days. Johansson’s main character accidentally gets caught in a dark situation, turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior. Just pure popcorn entertainment. “The Rock” meanwhile uses his physique to play the original strongman in another retelling of the story of the demigod Hercules.

While there was a clear financial winner, “Hercules” actually brought in slightly more media mentions. Check out the graphs below.

Measuring total media mentions for the movie Hercules

Hercules media mentions: 2036

Total news media mentions for the movie Lucy

Lucy Media Mentions: 1938

The two movies are separated by a mere 96 mentions across TV, radio web, and social media outlets for the time analyzed. Both movies seem to follow the same pattern in terms of spike in coverage, spiking the first time on Friday when the movies were released, and again after the weekend rush was over.

Like so many other products and services, media attention normally translates into success. Movies might be one of the exceptions, where a film with a major star can still garner attention but ticket buyers really do have the final say. “Hercules” may be just disappointing (not a bomb), but it highlights that a Hollywood publicity machine can create buzz . . . it just can’t force people into seats. Simply tracking critical mentions in the news doesn’t tell the whole story, real media measurement is necessary to see beyond those basic numbers.


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