The importance of preview footage as a driver of audience engagement is highlighted in Comic-Con research conducted by international communications agency Way To Blue.

The agency, which is headquartered in London and has offices around the world, found that the three presentations that drew the most social media buzz at last year’s convention replicated their order of popularity at this year’s North American box office.

The two top films – Disney/Marvel’s Iron Man 3 and Warner Bros/Legendary’s Man Of Steel – currently rank as the top two releases of the year-to-date while Disney’s Oz The Great And Powerful places sixth. The films currently ranked three through five on the 2013 box office chart — Monsters University, Despicable Me 2 and Fast & Furious 6 — were not presented at Comic-Con 2012.

Iron Man 3, Man Of Steel and Oz The Great And Powerful drew 43,994, 27,085 and 25,562 respective mentions across FaceBook, Twitter, forums and news sites after their panel presentations in Hall H in July 2012.

Crucially, each presentation featured footage. Disney chiefs unveiled a new trailer for Oz The Great And Powerful, enabling it to leapfrog other possibly more anticipated features.

However footage does not always work. Warner Bros and Legendary showed preview material for Pacific Rim at Comic-Con 2012 and the film ranked 10th in the list of 31 films on 11,633 mentions. Disney showed footage for The Lone Ranger although it came in at number 25 on 1,886. Both films have disappointed at the North American box office this summer.

Disney chiefs can take heart from the fact that the fifth Comic-Con 2012 presentation on the social media buzz list was Thor: The Dark World, which is set to open on Nov 8. The god of thunder earned 18,493 mentions behind 20,927 for Marvel stablemate Ant Man, which is scheduled to arrive in theatres on Nov 6, 2015.

Elysium earned 5,096 mentions in 21st place and opens through Sony’s TriStar Pictures on Aug 9.

For the full 2012 social media buzz chart visit Way To Blue.