×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Rotten Tomatoes Scores Don’t Impact Box Office, Study Finds

A new study issued Monday debunks some of the mounting concerns that the scoring system Rotten Tomatoes publishes analyzing movie-critics reactions is hurting box-office performance.

Yves Bergquist, director of the Data & Analytics Project at USC’s Entertainment Technology Center, analyzed film data going back to 2000 and came to a conclusion quite counter to the conventional wisdom gaining steam in Hollywood: “Rotten Tomatoes scores have never played a very big role in driving box office performance, either positively or negatively,” he wrote in a blog post published on Medium.

What’s more, his analysis of 2017 alone found that there is no positive or negative correlation between Rotten Tomatoes scores and box office. Bergquist found the same held true when looking at just the summer 2017 season alone, which was a rough one for the studios, and when looking strictly at opening-weekend box office.

Contrary to the notion that critics are too hard on blockbuster films, Bergquist discovered that critics have actually been kinder to movies grossing more than $300 million worldwide:  the median Rotten Tomatoes Score has gone up to 77.5 in 2017, several points higher than it’s been going back to the previous high of 73 in 2013.

As for the notion that critics are souring fans on films, Berquist’s analysis of the audience’s own Rotten Tomatoes scores found them in lockstep. “There’s virtually no difference between critics’ scores and audiences’ scores, and the more successful the film is at the box office, the smaller the difference,” wrote Bergquist. “Which means that audiences are becoming experts at smelling a ‘bad’ movie and staying away.”

Bergquist’s analysis also goes on to demolish other myths that studios may also find distressing with regard to whether the expense of CGI and other investments in production budgets are a reliable guarantor of box office success. Quite the opposite, it turns out.

“This means that, as financial exposure rises, so does financial risk,” he wrote. “This is not good (for a long time it was the opposite), and is a substantial reason why Wall Street has been so tough on entertainment stocks lately.”

The role of Rotten Tomatoes in box-office performance intensified over the summer as titles from “Baywatch” to “The Emoji Movie” saw their varying fortunes hotly debated.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Beyonce Knowles'The Lion King' film premiere,

    ABC Announces Behind-the-Scenes Special for Beyoncé's 'Lion King' LP

    ABC has announced a new behind-the-scenes look into the making of Beyoncé’s “The Lion King: The Gift” LP, which is set to air September 16 on ABC at 10 p.m. EST. Titled “Beyoncé Presents: Making the Gift,” the new hour-long special will allow viewers to “experience the process” behind the “Lion King” companion album, according [...]

  • Jason Lei Howden, Samara Weaving and

    Daniel Radcliffe On Acting With Weapons Nailed To Your Hands

    How did “Guns Akimbo” director and writer Jason Lei Howden convince Daniel Radcliffe to play a character with guns nailed to his hands? Easy, he sent him the script. Radcliffe joined Howden and “Ready or Not’s” breakout star Samara Weaving in the Variety’s Toronto Film Festival studio, presented by AT&T to talk the limits of [...]

  • Box Office: It Chapter Two Maintains

    Box Office: 'It: Chapter Two' Continues International Reign With $47 Million

    Pennywise’s reign of terror hasn’t wavered: Warner Bros.’ “It Chapter Two” maintained first place on box office charts, led by another strong showing overseas. The sequel, based on Stephen King’s horror novel, generated another $47 million at the international box office for a foreign tally of $169 million. After two weeks of release, “It Chapter [...]

  • First still from the set of

    Taika Waititi’s 'Jojo Rabbit' Wins Top Prize at Toronto Film Festival Awards

    Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit” has won the coveted People’s Choice Award at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The honor positions the film for a potential Oscar run and bolsters its awards chances. That’s good news for Fox Searchlight, which must have been disappointed by the lackluster critical reception for the movie, a dark comedy [...]

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Box Office: 'Hustlers' Racks Up Solid $33 Million Debut, 'Goldfinch' Bombs

    “Hustlers” rolled in the Benjamins this weekend, collecting $33.2 million when it debuted in 3,250 North American theaters. Boosted by rave reviews and stellar word of mouth, “Hustlers” beat expectations and now ranks as the best start for an STX film, along with the biggest live-action opening weekend for stars Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu. [...]

  • German Cinema Is Diverse, But Is

    German Cinema Is Varied, But Is It Too Risk Averse?

    One of the strengths of German cinema is its diversity, says Simone Baumann, managing director of the national film promotion agency German Films. As well as the three films at Toronto directed by female German helmers, there was also German filmmaker Thomas Heise’s documentary film essay “Heimat Is a Space in Time.” Then there were [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content