The Quorum has been tracking DON’T WORRY DARLING since late April when director Olivia Wilde introduced the film at CinemaCon and was subsequently introduced to custody papers from ex-partner Jason Sudeikis. And yet, despite that highly publicized event, awareness for DARLING remained in the mid-teens.
Even after Warner Bros. released a pair of trailers, one on May 2nd and another on July 21st, awareness didn’t budge.
Then there were the events of last week. Wilde was quoted as saying that Shia LeBeouf was fired from the film before she replaced him with would-be current paramour Harry Styles. LeBeouf shot back saying he wasn’t fired, but rather that he had quit, and shared a now-viral video message from Wilde to corroborate his claim. At the same time, a clip featuring Harry Styles went viral for all the wrong reasons, with many mocking his unidentifiable and shifting accent. Finally, word came that lead actor Florence Pugh would limit her publicity for DARLING, which led many to speculate that she was unwilling to promote the film fully.
That was all in the span of 72 hours.
That had us wondering if these events would finally be enough to lift awareness for the film. We also wanted to know if it made people more or less interested in seeing the movie.
For all the methodology wonks reading, let’s briefly discuss how The Quorum arrived at these answers. For awareness, The Quorum polled people the same way we always do. Nothing about that has changed. But when it came time to drill deeper into the nuances of how the events of the past week impacted attitudes towards the film, we conducted a second, completely separate study.
Here’s what we learned. Beginning with our standard tracking, you can see that awareness was stuck in the mid-teens for several months. The two trailers (grey bars) did nothing to improve the numbers. But, in our latest fielding, awareness jumped from 17% last Wednesday to 21% today. Trailers couldn’t lift awareness, but a few controversies did.
That puts DARLING much closer to WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING, a film we’ve been using as a box office comp. Awareness for DARLING has been trailing CRAWDADS for several months, but this gain puts DARLING just behind the 22% awareness for CRAWDADS at the same distance from release.
Now, let’s do a deeper dive into attitudes about the film. Here we turn to the second study. Respondents had to pass two qualifying tests to be included in the survey. First, they had to state that they were aware of the film. Second, they had to be able to identify at least one of the events from the past week from a provided list. For safety, we also included some fake headlines on that list to weed out bad respondents. In the end, 700 people qualified for the study.
As we look at the results of the second study, it’s important to remember that the film only has 21% awareness. Why is this important? It means that most of the population has no idea this movie exists. Given that awareness was required for taking the survey, these results represent the opinion of a minority subset of the general public.
With that said, here are the results.
Among those, 27% (yellow) said they just became aware of the film over the past week. The remaining 73% (blue) were aware of the movie before all the recent drama.
Among the smaller group that learned about the DARLING this week, 68% said they were interested in seeing the film (upper right bar chart). The other 32% were aware of the film but were not interested in seeing it. That’s a good conversion rate.
What about the people who knew about DARLING before the events of the past week? Has their interest changed? Among this group (in blue), 37% said that the past week’s events made them MORE interested in seeing the film. Only 20% said it made them LESS interested.
So what does this all mean? Could it be that there’s no such thing as bad publicity? From the outside looking in, DARLING looks to be going through a public relations nightmare, but could it actually be helping the film?
Here’s what we know. The events of the past week have raised awareness for the film. More importantly, the data suggests that the recent publicity has not turned people off. If anything, it’s made people more curious about what this film called DON’T WORRY DARLING is all about.