'Big Hero 6' Beats 'Interstellar' on YouTube Ahead of Opening Weekend

Big Hero 6 Baymax Hiro H 2014

Big Hero 6 Baymax Hiro H 2014

Analytics firm Strike says 'Theory of Everything' is most "contagious"

Interstellar and Big Hero 6 are both poised to have big weekends at the box office, but which film is getting the most buzz on YouTube ahead of its opening?

According to data from YouTube analytics company Strike Social, Big Hero is leading the way with 20.5 million total views across five videos. Interstellar comes in second with 14.3 million total views for four videos. The Theory of Everything, which also opens this weekend, has garnered 6.37 million views for its trailer. 

Disney spent no money to market its computer-animated superhero movie on YouTube, according to Strike estimates, but the film still pulled in the most views. Meanwhile, $876,000 was spent to market Christopher Nolan sci-fi film Interstellar and Universal Pictures UK spent $12,000 on its Stephen Hawking biopic. 

How can Disney not spend a dime on YouTube marketing for the Marvel film, yet still drive the most views? Strike CEO Patrick McKenna says that the studio — which recently acquired multichannel network Maker Studios — has done what few others have and created a host of Disney-branded YouTube channels that have become destinations for fans. The Disney Animation channel, for example, boasts 1.7 million subscribers. Meanwhile, other studios typically create a channel specific to each film and have to drive viewers to that channel by spending money to market the film's trailers on YouTube. 

"Big Hero 6 is no Frozen, but it's going to be a big move," McKenna says. "Disney's YouTube strategy has been to build their channel … and that strategy is paying off in that without any spend, they were able to get more than 20 million views for Hero, all organic." 

The official trailer for Theory, however, was the most "contagious" based on Strike's data. The company looked at how viewers engaged with each trailer and found that the Theory trailer garnered 6.37 million views, 98 percent of which were organic, or nonpaid, views. Hero came in second with 6.22 million views for its official trailer and 100 percent organic views. Interstellar ranked third with 5.09 million views for the official teaser trailer, which had just 43 percent organic views. 

"The Theory of Everything is looking like a real sleeper," notes McKenna. "If Universal put some more marketing and distribution money behind that film, it would likely blow up."

Of course, YouTube isn't the only way that the studios are marketing the films ahead of their release. Paramount struck a deal with Google on an interactive hub for Interstellar, which features movie ticket buying information, interactive content and a place to give feedback about the Matthew McConaughey starrer. Disney, meanwhile, debuted new footage of Big Hero at New York Comic Con.