November 10, 2017

A Rotten Movie Season

Jacob Bier ‘19

From hilarious romances to emotional adventures, the film industry produced many quality films this past summer. However, not everyone bought tickets and those in film industry think they have figured out why.
The summer 2017 box office was the worst in over a decade, hauling in only $3.8 billion, a 14.6 percent drop from 2016.
Many movies were huge box office flops. The biggest disaster of the summer was Guy Ritchie’s “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,” which lost nearly $27 million at the box office.
There were many other cinematic failures. “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” was one of the many films that underperformed. Although it made $794 million worldwide, it was still the second lowest grossing film in the franchise.
Similarly, “Transformers: The Last Knight” only made $605 million, the worst in the franchise.
Many people may argue that these movies underperformed because they did not seem interesting to audiences, or because they led unsuccessful ad campaigns. However, people in the film business place the blame on one company: Rotten Tomatoes.
Rotten Tomatoes is a review aggregator that gives movies scores based on the percentage of critics who gave positive reviews. Any movie that has more than 60 percent positive reviews is deemed “fresh,” while the rest are “rotten.”
Interestingly enough, eight out of the 10 highest grossing movies of the summer were fresh. For example, “The Big Sick,” a surprise hit of the summer and true story from the life of comedian Kumail Nanjiani, received 98 percent, a score that few movies achieve. Nanjiani’s heartwarming and hilarious story clearly resonated with many audiences.
“It was really cute and fun to watch,” junior Emily Berger said.
On the other hand, almost every movie that underperformed at the box office was rotten. “Transformers: The Last Knight” received an embarrassingly low 15 percent.
Filmmakers believe that if a film receives a rotten score on Rotten Tomatoes, it is less likely that people will see it.
“If I’m deciding what movie I want to see, I will usually check Rotten Tomatoes beforehand,” freshman Michael Lurie said. “If I see an interesting movie with a high score, then I will most likely see that movie.”
There were, however, several financial and critical success stories among all those failures. “Dunkirk,” directed by Christopher Nolan, was the story of British troops stranded on a beach during World War II and was a revolutionary film experience for some.
“You could feel the suspense throughout the theater,” junior Eitan Gerstle said. “It felt like you were there.”
Other franchise movies were very successful, as well, such as “War for the Planet of the Apes,” “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Wonder Woman.”
There are many other ways to figure out whether or not you want to see a movie besides using Rotten Tomatoes. If you do not know whether or not you want to see a movie, watch the trailers first. If the trailers intrigue you, go see the movie. If you still are not sure, find a movie reviewer who likes the same movies that you like. If they enjoyed the movie, then you probably will, too.
The movie industry is extremely important for our entertainment and culture. As a community, we need to make sure that we are going to the movies based on our own interests, and not the interests of movie critics.

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