More people may be flocking to the movies this year, sending box-office revenues soaring, but they’re often choosing to a poorly reviewed film over a critically praised one.
On multiple occasions in the first four months of the year, poorly reviewed movies have beaten their better received competition.
The undeniable victory this weekend of “17 Again” over the smart (if uneven) “State of Play” continues a pattern that’s starting to happen with more regularity than an entertainment-blog food fight. “Fast & Furious” resoundingly over “Adventureland,” “Knowing” convincingly over “Duplicity,” etc, etc. Outside of “Coraline” and (depending on which critic you believe) “Watchmen,” you’d be hard-pressed to find a well-reviewed movie that could be reasonably be called a commercial success.
Telling stat: the average Rotten Tomatoes score for the top 10 earners so far this year is a dismal 42%
Meanwhile, the specialty movies, many with (deserving) critical laurels – “Sugar,” “Two Lovers,” “Sin Nombre” — fight for the crumbs, earning a couple million dollars, or less.
(“Sunshine Cleaning is at the moment faring the best of the specialty lot – it’s a $1.5 million fest acquisition that’s earned six times that – though even that is telling: with a 70% Rotten Tomatoes score, it’s somewhat less strongly reviewed than some of its specialty peers.)
While Zeitchik notes that the first quarter of the year isn’t necessarily known for smart films, it’s not summer, so one would expect more thought-provoking films would have done a bit better. Still, with summer movie season fast approaching, expect this trend to continue.
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