Is the Legend of Tarzan Trailer a Surprise Hit? What Do the Numbers Tell Us?

A1, Other Stuff

It’s now 38 hours since Warner Brothers released the trailer for Legend of Tarzan, and during that time, data monitoring tells a very interesting tale, the core storyline of which is surprisingly favorable for Warner Brothers and long-suffering Edgar Rice Burroughs fans.  As of this morning at 6AM, which is 38 hours after the trailer was released, in spite of a very slow start,  the LOT trailer is sitting on 4.2M views on YouTube and is acquiring additional views at a rate that suggest it has legs. That’s already more views than the John Carter Trailer got in its entire lifespan; is more than In the Heart of the Sea, released today, has gotten in the entirety of its promotion; and along with other data discussed below suggests fairly conclusively that, barring future marketing misssteps, Warner Brothers has likely dodged the bullet of the Pan-sized  fiasco that some had predicted.

Here are key takeaways from a study of the data, which I have been collecting for LOT and its chief competitor BFG  every four hours since the trailer was released — plus I have looked at other relevant movies as benchmark indicators.

An exceptionally slow start shows that Legend of Tarzan entered the market with low awareness 

LOT got off to an exceptionally slow start.  Two hours after release it had only 36,000 views.  Disney/Spielberg’s  BFG had more than 300,000 views at the same point in its cycle.  This is no surprise to anyone who’s been observing the Great Silence (I will now call it the Great Strategic Silence) coming from Warner Brothers marketing.  Awareness was exceptionally low.

Expectations were wven lower than awareness; and early viewers were favorably surprised at what they saw

The dominant theme in what potential viewers did know about LOT, based on their comments and a key data point we’ll discuss in a minute, was that there was nothing in what was out there prior to the trailer release that would cause anyone but a hardcore Edgar Rice Burroughs or Alexander Skarsgard fan to get excited.  This was apparent not only in the comments — it was crystal clear in a key statistic that was apparent even in the first data intake, two hours after the trailer was released.  In that intake, at 6PM PST on 9 December, LOT had only 36,000 views — but it was acquiring “Likes” at a rate of a whopping 9.8%.  That is a seriously badass  number.   How badass?  The following chart, depicting the situation of LOT and a total of ten movies that serve as reference points, at 6PM on Dec 9,  two hours after release, is illustrative:

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 7.50.00 AM


I was frankly stunned by the 9.81% figure and thought it had to be a mistake.  It’s not uncommon for a just released trailer to be higher than the norm … but I’ve never seen anything this high.   However, at the very next data intake, four hours later, Tarzan was maintaining this rate at a point where it still had only garnered 58,000 views.

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 7.50.08 AM

What is to be inferred from this?  I think the answer is fairly obvious — particularly now, with more results in.  Viewers had low expectations and were caught by surprise at how good it was.  Nothing else explains the extraordinarily strong Like percentage — which is another way of saying extraordinarily strong word of mouth support.

So at this point —  BFG was way ahead and appeared to be pulling away, the Like percentage was running highly in favor of LOT.  So what happened next?


Legend of Tarzan has passed Disney-Spielberg’s BFG and the Heart of the Sea

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 7.57.13 AM

Right, I know it’s no big deal to do better than John Carter — but look, to do it in the first forty hours compared to the entire lifespan of John Carter is at least an indication that LOT is on a different trajectory.  The fact that it has passed In the Heart of the Sea is both good and bad — good in the sense that it shows it’s obviously showing legs and doing well; bad because it doesn’t look like In The Heart of the Sea is going do well, and it’s almost certain that In The Heart of the Sea is the movie where WB will be showing the Tarzan trailer.  Not many eyeballs to be gotten there, unfortunately.

As you can see, Tarzan’s Like percentage is down to 1.03% which puts it back in the realm of the reasonable.  This reflects the fact that as people are referred to the trailer by others who say its good or great — expectations are higher.  But still, of the movies listed, Legend of Tarzan is still a comfortable #1 when sorted by Like percentage.

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 8.40.25 AM


This HAS to be good news for Warner Brothers and the rest of us.  It doesn’t guarantee a hit — but it may guarantee that WB does not have a Pan-sized flop on its hands.

The full chart shows how Tarzan started slowly, then overtook and passed BFG and is still running strong while BFG appears to be fading.

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 8.10.30 AM


This chart shows clearly the trajectory of Legend of Tarzan — but sometimes a graph is better than a chart, so here’s a graph depicting what you see above.

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 8.25.35 AM


Summing up … the numbers at this point suggest that at a minimum, WB does not have a Pan-sized flop on its hands, assuming the film delivers reasonably on the expectations created by the trailer. It’s too early to say that Legend of Tarzan looks like it could be a sleeper hit — but WB is to be congratulated for a successful initial kickoff of the marketing.

I will continue to monitor the trailer performance — also, I will do another post in coming days taking a more complete look at the performance across all social media.

But for now, if you’re rooting for this movie, breathe a small sigh of release.  It’s off to a solid start.


  • The trailer has now hit 9 mil on YouTube, with a 0.076 ‘like’ percentage or 0.08, if we’re rounding up. Even with the “Disney-effect”, it seems to be holding it’s own. The numbers seem good to me, although I’m certainly no expert.

  • Over 7 million views now. In three days it almost has as many views as the “Warcraft” trailer has amassed in a month. It is far passed The BFG (which is at 4 million). This is exciting.

  • To 4.4m for BFG. I don’t mean to be gleeful about BFG not doing as well as Tarzan — but if you had taken bets from all the experts prior to the day they were release, 9 out of 10 would have thought thhe combination of Spielberg/Disney/Roald Dahl would clobber WB/Yates/Burroughs …. and they did, for the first few hours until word of mouth caught hold and Tarzan blew past BFG. Hoping the trailer has a good weekend and gets to 10m, that would be a very compelling argument that this is no bomb-in-the-making.

  • I feel so good about this. Thank you for compiling the data. I hope the uptick continues. It seems clear that many people were pleasantly surprised after watching the trailer and I feel like I can breath a little sigh of relief. Fingers crossed it continues. As of this moment, the trailer on Youtube is up to 6,977,517 views, with 0.08% likes, with the BFG at 4,495,101 views at 0.9% likes — a little shift in likes percentage, but seems to me the LOT trailer is still holding its own.

    I look forward to any further analysis you may do in the future. It’s all very fascinating and, most importantly, hopeful! Thanks!

  • You have done a fantastic job with this data and I am grateful for you hard work on behalf of the fans of this project. I am also, relieved to see that there is such a positive response to the first trailer. WB does seem to have a good team of marketers on this project with their eyes on the ball.i was hoping that the Great Silence was a strategy and not neglect. There is something to be said for the simply show up and wow them approach when applied strategically to the right product. It’s the old ” unveiling” technique. Meanwhile,I am happy and looking forward more than ever to seeing this movie. I am planning on seeing In the Heart of the Sea today and will report back with news on how the LOT trailer looked on the big screen.

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