Hollywood is currently reeling from one of the worst summer movie seasons ever. After a slew of under performing misfires, those in charge of movie studios are looking for an easy excuse to pass the blame. Rotten Tomatoes has become one such lightning rod, as insiders point to the clout the movie aggregate website has amassed over the years. A new study has emerged which potentially reveals that this effect may be hugely exaggerated.
Data scientist Yves Bergquist has revealed that Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t actually have any major correlation between a films score on the site and box office profits;
“I collected box office return data through Box Office Mojo for all the 150 titles released in 2017 that grossed more than $1 million, plugged in Rotten Tomatoes Scores and Audience Scores for all titles, and looked at correlation between scores and financial performance through both a basic Pearson Product-Moment Correlation Coefficient (PMCC) analysis and some linear modeling to extract r-squares (which measure the strength of the correlation). PMCC measures the linear correlation between two variables x and y. It has a value between + 1 (100% positive correlation) and -1 (100% negative correlation, often called “inverse correlation”). The closer to 0 a PMCC score, the less correlation there is between x and y.
The result? Nope. The math is pretty overwhelming in saying there was no (positive or negative) correlation in 2017 between Rotten Tomatoes Scores and box office returns.”
It’s amusing to watch movie studios clamoring to blame a single website for their horrendous output – when the reality is that the likes of The Mummy and The Dark Tower just aren’t what audiences want. Can it be any surprise that people don’t want to pay upwards of $20 for a movie that they suspect isn’t going to be that good?
There’s also the argument that there have been major hits this summer. Wonder Woman broke records, as has the recent IT movie. These did huge numbers at the box office, arguably with less than favorable parameters (WW was the first female directed movie to crack $100 million).
For my money, it’s a load of rubbish. Maybe if studios actually committed to delivering strong movies, they wouldn’t be in this situation. Instead of reboots that nobody asked for, why not work towards delivering a better experience?
What do you think? How influential do you believe Rotten Tomatoes is?