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Which is why 4-star reviews from the star get put on the cover of shitty direct-to-DVD horror movies in the first place


So he’s upset that a challenging art piece was controversial? :wink:

Like I said there are many metrics for a film. However, don’t be fooled. They all want to make money especially when they’re batting at the level mother! was meant to. It’s all a game of expectations. The lesson I garnered out of this one is that they probably just spent too much money on an art film rather than it being a failure.


Sure but that is essentially a lagging indicator. A lot of my favourite films did very poorly at the box office, This is Spinal Tap, The Princess Bride, The Shawshank Redemption, Dredd did not do well at all.

You’d have to ask in that case though if people are reacting to the box office or the marketing. On opening weekend nobody knows what the box office will be apart from a few nerds and industry people that read about the projections.


Reviews matter if other people’s opinions matter to you, as do awards.

Box office matters if you want to make a living.


Being a better writer than me, Scorsese explains the points better in the article.


Although I think that element of how quickly audiences are made aware of these indicators is one area in which it is easier to see how things have changed.

The internet gives everyone instant access to detailed ratings of a movie (both of critics and fellow viewers) as soon as it has come out, and often some time before that. You can look up a film on opening weekend and see a RT score (or IMDB rating or whatever) which may influence your decision to see it. Especially when something like RT is reductive enough to either label a movie as ‘fresh’ or not, with no shades of grey.

That kind of information wouldn’t have been available to audiences in decades past. At most you might have seen a few reviews and maybe have a word-of-mouth report from one or two people who might have seen it the day it opened.


Your writing has 16% score on Rotten Tomatoes.


To be fair, these are the kind of metrics people want if they’re just trying to figure out what film to spend their $20 bucks on to go see tonight.

Speaking of which. My wife is out of town. So I think I’m going to take off work early and head out to an early showing of Blade Runner 2049.


Oh, I’m not complaining about it. Just saying it is a way in which the current system is different to the 1980s.


True but in my experience outside of real fans like ourselves it doesn’t really have that great an influence. Most don’t know they exist or refer to them, they ask on Facebook if a film is any good.

While I absolutely agree on the inherent weakness of Rotten Tomatoes, which is the binary nature of good or bad, when balanced out I can’t generally disagree with most of it. It gets sketchy in the middle but the films they end up rating as great generally are and the the same for the ones that are pants.

mother! to me is an outlier, a genuinely very divisive film which makes it difficult to get a consensus. On the BBC film show Kermode loved it and Mayo hated it. At that point anyone is taking a bit of a punt. Same as the infamous Prometheus, you could read through two dozen reviews here or in the press and get no consensus.


Innerspace didn’t do well? I loved that movie (particularly Robert Picardo)…and I’m pretty sure that was where I picked up my love of the music of Sam Cooke.


It absolutely bombed in the US. A complete disaster.

As a result when it got to the UK (and I was working in a cinema) the distributor offered the earth to promote it. It did okay business in the UK and Ireland.

That’s partly why I question the big issue with modern approaches because it isn’t a great film but it’s okay for an 80s action/sci-fi film. I don’t know quite why it engendered such hate from US critics. It seems no more rational and maybe less so than what we get today.


Does poor box office performance tend to lead to TV rights being sold on the cheap? I remember Innerspace being on TV all the time as a kid, I really liked it.


I may have deliberately phrased that sentence badly. Though I was expecting someone to pick me up for using the word better twice.


I think it has to do with the business of being a film reviewer.

First and foremost, I don’t think film reviewers’ taste is always in line with the general public just do to the sheer amount of film they consume. If you’re used to eating steak tartar, McDonalds isn’t going to resonate with you.

Second, mediocre reviews don’t engender a following. Since these reviews are meant to sell papers or clicks, reviewers need a following to keep reviewing as a professional. People want “GREATEST FILM EVER!” or “I JUST WASTED TWO HOURS OF MY LIFE!”. You can see from box pull quotes how many films are rated the best in whatever genre or overall. Also, I think the really vitriol ridden bad review is where reviewers make their name in this market.

Both of these things work together to mold something that isn’t always entirely objective not always through the fault of the reviewer or the person reading the review. So like you said, it’s good to know where your own tastes lie and the reviewers that most exemplify that or just watch what you fucking like. :wink:


They are definitely the most fun.

I agree with all you say Ronnie and that’s why I don’t quite see the obsession with Rotten Tomatoes making or breaking films. To be blunt I think it is a weak excuse from people who make badly reviewed films. There are cases when badly reviewed films do well and positively reviewed films do badly but I see no difference at all in that in 2017 compared to 1987.

Yes Rotten Tomatoes gives you access to an aggregate of 50 reviews in a click but before nobody could feasibly read 50 newspapers so you also just reacted to a potentially flawed opinion that may not match yours. More than all of that is personal recommendation, it’s the most important element in a film having staying power.


THIS! At the end of the day, films are ultimately a business that need to make money. Directors and others are often held accountable for poor performance that is sometimes out of their control. Scapegoating RT is like telling your teacher that your dog ate your homework or your boss that a lightening storm wiped your hard drive when a bit report is due.

I understand that it has to be gut wrenching to put this thing that you’ve put so much work into out in the world only to have it lambasted with glee and for your ability to make your next film to be dependent on that. Sometimes things just don’t hit and that’s OK. I would think the makers who took a risk on a film like mother! would be happy that not everyone loved it but ultimately they still need it to make money.



If a film gets a cinema release that influences it’s value all the way down the line. A lot of films are financed by pre-selling the right to distribute the movie in various markets, those pre-sales are based on an expectation/hope/guess about the eventual popularity of the unmade film.

The companies doing the pre-buying don’t actually write a cheque at that point though. They sign a contract that specifies the amount they will pay, and the producer then uses that to get a loan from a bank, against the future income.

So if those pre-sales turn out to be overly optimistic it can lead to legal action because the buyers will refuse to pay the agreed amount, or even buy the distribution rights to that film at all.


Thanks for that Steve.

(I knew that rights tend to be pre-sold, which was why I wondered whether eventual box-office success could change that deal after the fact.)


You’re now at 13%.