Fans and critics have plenty of theories regarding DC's issues at the box office, but a new study seems to peg down just why Marvel movies are performing better in theaters.
Automated market research tech provider ZappiStore tested a viewer's emotional engagement with several Marvel and DC movie trailers using facial coding and emotional recognition technology called Affectiva, and here's how it works. As viewers watch the trailers, Affectiva has the ability to measure moment to moment expressions and emotions via webcam, and the results display on a dashboard (ADWEEK).
Now, this is relegated to just trailers, but ZappiStore is still able to gain a lot from the process. It highlights which aspects of the trailer perform the best and resonate most with the viewers, and that painted a very clear picture between the two properties. The DC trailers received positive responses during the sections with special effects and big action, but not so much when just the characters were present.
That's in direct opposition to the Marvel trailers. In those trailers, viewers reacted strongly to the superheroes themselves, and also reacted in a positive way towards the humor, thus creating more emotional engagement.
Take for instance the Guardians of the Galaxy 2 trailer. The study found 78% of viewers as "lovers" of the trailer, citing its song choice and wisecracking characters as the biggest reasons why. Following with a 75% was Captain America: Civil War. By comparison, the first DC film to rank on the list was Justice League, netting a 71% and Batman vs. Superman, which hit a 60%.
In short, the characters seem to resonate more long-term, while the big action and special effects have more short-term results.
"We were surprised to see, across all trailers tested, that the emotional response was lower than expected for set pieces and special effects, particularly in the genre we were looking at," ZappiStore research architect Ernie Collings said. "The results indicate the way DC can reboot and change characters across trilogies or between TV to film might be having a detrimental effect on how well the public connects with those characters."
Both studios have films on the horizon for 2018, with Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and Aquaman all scheduled to hit later this year.