Is it the Critics’ Fault if People Don’t Go to the Movie?

Posted on June 12, 2017 at 2:31 am

They’re blaming the critics again.  Quartz’s Ashley Rodriguez writes:

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Baywatch were never going to be critical darlings. The former is the fifth film in a franchise that should have been retired years ago, if Hollywood had any mercy at all. And the other is an action-comedy about lifeguards. Enough said. Both movies led the domestic box office to its worst Memorial Day weekend showing in nearly 20 years.

In the fallout, are Hollywood producers blaming the writers? The actors? Themselves? (Of course not.) No, they are reportedly blaming Rotten Tomatoes.

They say the movie-review site, which forces critics to assign either a rotten or fresh tomato to each title when submitting reviews, regardless of the nuances of their critiques, poisoned viewers against the films before they were released.

Don’t kill the messenger.  If people want to show a little caution before spending the money for a movie ticket by checking with a trusted critic or even a quick look at an aggregate score, then that is their right.  If the studios do not like the reviews, they should make better movies.  The fact that the audience score is almost always higher than the critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes is due to a selection bias; the people who buy tickets for a film do so because they think they will like it and once they’ve spent the time and money they are literally invested in the film.  More important, that score is on Rotten Tomatoes for any potential ticket-buyer who would like to be guided by it.

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