Two researchers at HP Labs, Sitaram Asur and Bernardo Huberman, have discovered that you can accurately use Twitter mentions to predict how well a movie will perform in its first release weekend. Asur and Huberman monitored movie mentions in 2.9 million tweets from 1.2 million users over three months for 24 movies.
They then built a computer model, which looked at two variables: the rate of tweets around the release date, and the number of theaters its released in. Lo and behold, their model was 97.3% accurate in predicting opening weekend box office. By contrast, the Hollywood Stock Exchange, which has been the gold standard for opening box-office predictions, had a 96.5% accuracy.
To predict second-weekend performance, the authors created a ratio of positive tweets to negative ones. Then they blended that with the Tweet rate metric in another prediction algorithm. This time, the method was 94% accurate.
Here’s their research paper: http://arxiv.org/abs/1003.5699