Two researchers at HP Labs have discovered that Twitter "mentions" predict a movie's box office performance better than the Hollywood Stock Exchange -- what Fast Company calls "the most accurate
method currently in use." Researchers Sitaram Asur and Bernardo Huberman began by monitoring movie mentions in 2.9 million tweets from 1.2 million users over three months. These included 24 movies in
all, ranging from Avatar to Twilight: New Moon.
To predict first weekend performance, they built a computer model, which factored in two variables: the rate of tweets around the release date and the number of theaters its released in. As it turns out, the model was 97.3% accurate in predicting opening weekend box office, while the Hollywood Stock Exchange had a 96.5% accuracy. More intriguing still is the notion that Twitter can influence -- as well as predict -- a film's performance.