Studios are trying to figure out some way to counter the ‘Rotten Tomatoes Effect’

7th Annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic

The movement – nay, the RESISTANCE – started a few years ago. It started quietly at first, just a few quotes from a few directors and producers to the trade papers. The momentum quietly built up, and then well-heeled directors began to speak out. The hacktastic madmen at the helm of various bombs had to find some way of explaining why people don’t like their films, because it literally never dawns on them that they need to simply make better films. No, the root of all this angst was very simple: Rotten Tomatoes and the way they aggregate reviews from professional movie critics and assign a fresh/rotten score. THAT is the problem. And directors, studios and fan-boys are leading their own #Resistance. #ResistRottenTomatoes! The Hollywood Reporter has a new story about how bad films are adjusting their promotion to counter the Rotten Tomatoes Effect. It’s kind of funny, actually, especially given the recent RT issue with The Emoji Movie. Here’s part of the story:

The Emoji Movie’s $24.5 million domestic opening during the July 28 to 30 weekend accomplished what no other movie has been able to do during a tough summer season at the box office — survive an abysmal Rotten Tomatoes score (7 percent) and open in line with prerelease tracking. One possible secret weapon? Sony wouldn’t let reviews post until midday on July 27, hours before the pic began playing in previews before rolling out everywhere. Sony, like every studio, is looking for their own basket of rotten eggs to throw at review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes in hopes of combating a bad “Tomatometer” score. That means screening some titles later and later for critics

“What other wide release with a score under 8 percent has opened north of $20 million? I don’t think there is one,” says Josh Greenstein, Sony Pictures president of worldwide marketing and distribution. “The Emoji Movie was built for people under 18, so we wanted to give the movie its best chance.”

At a tipping point now, Rotten Tomatoes’ influence began to grow exponentially after it and parent company Flixster were acquired in February 2016 by leading movie ticketing website Fandango, a unit of Comcast’s NBCUniversal. (Warner Bros. holds a minority stake in the merged companies.) This summer, a slew of event films earning a rotten score were beached domestically — Baywatch (19 percent) and Transformers: The Last Knight (15 percent) among them — while tentpoles earning scores north of 90 percent did better than expected, including Wonder Woman, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Dunkirk. Studios — all too eager to advertise a good score, a practice that didn’t begin until summer 2016 — are now scrambling to understand what happens when their titles garner the infamous green splat.

[From THR]

THR goes on to explain that some theater chains and ticketing sites are trying to adjust how they feature RT’s scores – like, if RT has bestowed a “fresh” score, of course everyone is happy to use it in the promotion. But if the RT is appallingly low, now studios want to make sure the RT score isn’t featured by any theater chain or ticketing site. THR also notes this:

Hollywood studios have commissioned a number of studies on the subject in recent months. Nielsen Research Group found that seven out of 10 people said they would be less interested in seeing a movie if the Rotten Tomatoes score was 0 to 25. And social media research firm Fizziology, which tracks every major Hollywood release, discovered that a Rotten Tomatoes score has the most influence on moviegoers 25 and younger.

“The Tomatometer has evolved into a truth serum of sorts to help moviegoers decode whether the promise of the campaign lives up to the reality of the film,” says Nielsen Research Group CEO Jon Penn. Adds Fizziology president Ben Carlson, “Things have reached a crescendo this summer. We see entire audience segments talking about a movie for months and then, all of a sudden, the conversation completely dries up and goes away when the Rotten Tomatoes score comes out. People are using the score as a pass/fail. Hollywood has always talked about a movie being “review proof.” But it may not be Rotten Tomatoes proof.”

[From THR]

THEY ARE COMMISSIONING STUDIES. It does not occur to these studios that they just need to make better movies!! So, the studio’s makeshift strategy to deal with the Rotten Tomatoes Effect is that when the studio knows they’re about to release a terrible movie, they’re just going to embargo reviews until the very last minute. They did that with The Dark Tower last week, so now that becomes the latest harbinger of doom: if a studio has embargoed reviews until the last minute, you know the film sucks.

7th Annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic

7th Annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic

Photos courtesy of IMDB. WB.

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29 Responses to “Studios are trying to figure out some way to counter the ‘Rotten Tomatoes Effect’”

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  1. detritus says:

    Maybe they should do studies on what types of movies succeed and how to market to underserved audiences, instead of how to lie more effectively? No? That might mean they’d have to admit they are doing something wrong though, so i won’t hold my breath.

    • Sixer says:

      I’m laughing so hard that I can’t even begin to formulate a common sense comment about this. So thank you.

      This story has truly made my day. And will still be making my day when I switch on the TV later, where I can actually find some decent storytelling.

    • detritus says:

      Think about this thought process, it kills me so dead. Everyone involved must believe they are so perfect for this to be a solution. I figure it must have gone like this:

      Hmmm, everyone is saying our movie sucks Cody.

      Well, Hunter, that is obviously not true. We are strong and intelligent men. *looks around the room for the hear, hears. Recieves them from all 10 white gentleman and the one latin dude kind of mumbles and looks away.

      Truth, Cody, I forgot about that. It must be someone lying about our movies. It MUST be a conspiracy. The public has been led astray. Do you think it is perhaps the libtards and feminazis are at their nefarious man hating agenda again?

      Yes, Hunter. THis MUST be the case. We need to study this, you can use science to prove anything right? That search engine gentleman did something similar and look at all the press he generated!

      All bros backslap each other and hire a rando they were in a frat with who completed a BSC in chem to do their study because they heard him say p-value, once.

  2. LadyMTL says:

    Yes, if all of a sudden RT disappeared your movies would be beloved far and wide, no matter how cr@appy they are. Lie to us, we’ll always believe you!
    Sheesh. Bunch of nincompoops…just make better movies.

  3. HH says:

    Make good movies?! I like how they assume that every movie has this problem. There hasn’t been a movie yet where the RT score was ENTIRELY undeserved.

  4. Bridget says:

    Or you could just make better movies.

    Do they not realize that what they’re trying to do is figuring out how they can trick people into seeing their terrible movies? The “Rotten Tomatoes” effect isn’t about quality movies having a hard time finding a place in the market. Its expensive to go to a movie, I don’t want to pay to see crap if I can help it.

    • jwoolman says:

      The price factor may be the key. If you’re only paying fifty cents, you can afford to watch a clunker and just walk out when the popcorn bag is empty. They may be stuck in the old days when a movie was a cheap date and before cable.

      I’ll usually watch anything animated but this one sounds uninteresting even to me. Also one long commercial.

    • Erica_V says:

      The cost is absolutely what keeps me from going to see movies on a whim. Not to mention movies have such a short theater life that usually in a few weeks you can just buy the movie for less than what it would cost to go see it.

      The line about studios being surprised more people were going to see well reviewed movies is just so stupid. Like DUH! Of course when people hear a movie is good that makes them want to see it.

    • Marianne says:

      I think the other thing that keeps people from going to the theater, is that you get audiences members who talk through performances, or text or whatever. Sometimes, its easier watching something from the comfort of your home when you know you wont be disturbed.

  5. They don’t always have it right. I feel like they can be overly critical and very bias. I am pretty critical of movies myself (I don’t like watching anything that’s only “okay once”), by they’re on a whole other level.

    • Radley says:

      I agree. I obviously haven’t researched but I think where they’re getting the reviews that they aggregate are important too. Who are the reviewers? Is their integrity assured? That kinda thing.

      Sometimes they rave like you should be expecting a masterpiece and it isn’t. And sometimes they’re very critical but the movie is entertaining. Grain of salt with them as with a lot of things.

  6. Jamie42 says:

    They could make better movies, they could try to serve more audiences, but movie makers do have a real point. RT caters to the pack mentality among reviewers, many of whom seem to have no understanding at all of film history or theory and some of whom seem not to have watched the film in question, because they get basic details wrong. But their ill-informed review still counts as “rotten.” I think some movies, like the Emoji movie, probably deserve anything they get, but other movies are unfairly attacked, and people actually miss out on movies they might like.

  7. Va Va Kaboom says:

    Rotten Tomatoes should just quantify the late release to critics into the score. Minus 75% just for the bs PR tactics, if the practice guarantees a terrible score (as opposed to the roll of the dice that someone may actually like your movie) the studios won’t accomplish anything.

  8. Jenns says:

    Movies are expensive. And with 30 minutes of previews, they are time consuming. Theaters can be annoying because people don’t know basic manners. So yes, I’m going to check RT and make sure the film I’m about to see isn’t a dud. Because if it is, I can wait to watch it at home.

  9. Nicole says:

    Make better movies.
    There. Solved it

  10. Josie says:

    Studios: “How dare audiences be able to find out that reviewers hate our movies! Just give us your money and be disappointed afterward!”

    Or, alternatively, “Why should people prefer to spend money on well-reviewed movies when everyone knows they’re just supposed to do what our marketing department tells them?”

    Do they even listen to themselves as they’re talking? “We don’t care if you hate our movie afterward, as long as you give us your money first.”

  11. holly hobby says:

    Hey they sound like they work for Orangino!

    Let’s keep everyone in the dark about our shitty product.

  12. wood dragon says:

    Oddly enough we saw Dark Tower today and enjoyed it. It was just something entertaining to see. Not on the level of Wonder Woman, but diverting.

  13. Marianne says:

    Theres more than just Rotten Tomatoes though. Theres plenty of other movie based websites that have reviews from critics as well as regular audience goers alike. There are people on youtube that make movie reviews. And there is still the old fashioned print reviews. If people want to know they will find out regardless.

    Anyway though, I dont see why studios are so worried about RT considering that most of them seem to make movies with Chinese markets in mind.

  14. Loca says:

    Poor Christina tied herself to another flop movie. The emoji movie is probably the first kid movie I was not interested in taking the kids too. Glad I saved money.

  15. justwastingtime says:

    I took my 8 yo youngest as she and her bestie begged. It was truly awful ( I hid the light of my cell phone in the stadium seats and sent myself to-do lists during much of it).

    Both kids loved it of course. My 18 you was horrified that we went and asked his baby sister how the “CItiizen Kane” of kids movies was…

  16. Eliesse says:

    I don’t understand the hate for the emoji movie. My daughter and I loved it! I laughed several times and I thought the storyline was solid too. I like how they portrayed the importance of our phones in our lives. It was really cute!! Not oscars worthy or anything, but worth a watch!