The Rotten Tomatoes effect and why Hollywood’s had a bummer of a summer
This summer’s cinema releases have been dominated by lazy sequels in franchises we’re grown bored of, said Dave Holmes in Esquire. “A fifth Transformers. A fifth Pirates of the Caribbean. A millionth Planet of the Apes, a trillionth Alien.” Is it any wonder that audiences are staying away? The industry has just reported a disastrous drop in summer ticket sales of 10.8% on last year.
One reason people aren’t going to the cinema is that modern TV is so much better. “The talk of last summer was Stranger Things, and the talk this summer is Game of Thrones,” points out industry analyst Jeff Bock. “It used to be, ‘What’s playing this summer in theatres?’” Then there’s the Rotten Tomatoes effect, said Kyle Stock on Bloomberg. Time was when a hefty marketing budget could ensure that a second-rate blockbuster at least enjoyed a lucrative opening weekend, before negative audience response kicked in. Now the downturn is immediate. Online review aggregators such as RottenTomatoes.com and Metacritic.com mean people can check within hours of a film’s premiere if it’s any good. And if it isn’t, they take their money elsewhere.
This was the year that moviegoers voted with their feet, said Charles Bramesco in The Guardian. They’re tired of “brain-dead remakes”, sequels and clunky franchise openers, such as the Tom Cruise action film The Mummy, which wastes its running time on what feels like scene-setting for the film we’ll get in two years’ time. By contrast, “films content with their own finality” – such as Baby
Driver, Dunkirk and the indie horror movie Get Out – surpassed expectations. This could be an “inspiring bellwether of hope”. Maybe the movie moguls will finally realise “they can no longer phone it in”.
Cruise remake The Mummy