"How Hollywood Came to Fear and Loathe Rotten Tomatoes" - Studios are blaming the Tomatometer for box-office failures






Oh, give me a break. You really think we wanted a fifth "Pirates" movie? Who's the brainiac that greenlit the damn thing? How about making a movie out of a show, "Baywatch," that was mocked at when it aired back in the '90s and was only watched by pervs that wanted to catch female beach bods in action (pre-Porn era)? Yes, we might be living in a culture where film aggregates are becoming important to a film's success and know what? I'm glad we are. Didn't we all wish in the '90s and '00s to live in a time when the good movies made money and the bad ones tanked? Well, this is the time folks. Bet big on "Baby Driver" doing well in late June, ditto "Dunkirk," "The Beguiled" and "Detroit." Why? The film community will be supporting these artistic statements and millennials will listen. The cinematic experience is becoming too expensive, people are becoming pickier and relying more on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic to make their decisions on a Saturday night. This is my message to studios if they want box-office success: How about you just make a good movie.


Judging by my own experiences, Millennials are really into Rotten Tomatoes. Most of the ones I've spoken to very much value a movie's RT score and do make their decisions to buy a movie ticket based on that. For example, I can name you at least a dozen friends of mine that were going to watch SUICIDE SQUAD, but ended up skipping it in theaters after its horrific RT score. It's just the times we live in and I am glad that critics are having more and more power in relation to a movie's success.

Studios are saying that maybe the answer to this problem is, SHOCK, not screening the movies at all to film critics. Ok brainy studio heads, it's not like the reason why you're fucking movie is tanking is maybe because ... it sucks? That's always been the problem with Hollywood hardheads, blame others instead of yourself. Films like "The Mummy," "Baywatch," and " Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" are tanking for a reason, they are the epitome of what has always been wrong with MANY big budgeted summer blockbusters: they're dumbed down, insulting to our intelligence and, these days, pampered products for the masses, especially Chinese audiences. Millennials are waking up and it's a cause for celebration. And, if it's not Rotten Tomatoes, it will be Twitter, Facebook, Reddit. The internet has sprung up a new revolution of moviegoers and I'm super proud of that. 

"The most obvious recourse to Hollywood’s Rotten Tomatoes conundrum, of course, may also be the simplest (at least on paper): prioritize filmmaking quality over marketing artifice, make better/more interesting/more appealing films, and stop blaming some stupid website for lackluster box-office returns."

To me, it’s a ridiculous argument that Rotten Tomatoes is the problem,” says a marketing executive at an independent film distributor. “Fuck you—make a good movie!



Here are some other fascinating excerpts for the Vanity Fair article:

"Launched on a lark in 1998 by Web designer Senh Duong to catalogue reviews for Jackie Chan kung-fu flicks, Rotten Tomatoes has come to dominate the cultural conversation surrounding new movies and fundamentally change the calculus of putting butts in seats. It’s particularly, terrifyingly powerful among teens and 20-somethings who, as recently as five years ago, relied more often than not on “Bro, you gotta see this”-style word of mouth than any sort of professional critic appraisals to make their multiplex picks.

“Moviegoers love trailers. They pay attention to the TV spots. But Rotten Tomatoes is like the truth serum on the entire [promotional] campaign: are all the things you’re telling me about the movie true or not?” says Jon Penn, chief executive of the movie research firm National Research Group (NRG), which has tracked Rotten Tomatoes’ influence on audience behavior since 2010. “These scores are almost like a lubricant one way or the other. If it’s good, it helps you more than it did in the past. But if it’s bad, it hurts you even more.”

According to the stats compiled by NRG, almost every major moviegoing demographic reports an increasing reliance on Rotten Tomatoes. “One of the things we track is, ‘How often do you check Rotten Tomatoes scores before you decide to see a film?’” Penn says. “In 2014, 28 percent of all moviegoers said they were checking. In 2016, it’s 36 percent. Teens went from 23 [percent] to 34. That’s an enormous jump.”

And the studios are only preparing for it to get worse. An independent study commissioned by 20th Century Fox in 2015 (and obtained by Vanity Fair), titled “Rotten Tomatoes and Box Office,” concluded, “The power of Rotten Tomatoes and fast-breaking word of mouth will only get stronger. Many Millennials and even Gen Xers now vet every single purchase through the internet, whether it’s restaurants, video games, make-up, consumer electronics, or movies. As they get older and comprise an even larger share of total moviegoers, this behavior is unlikely to change.”

That much is explicitly spelled out in Fox’s internal report: “Consider not giving the critics a chance to slam you,” reads a bullet point. “While it’s never a great feeling to withhold from critics, now it may help to at least preserve your Friday.”

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