The worst Memorial Day box office of the century has forced Hollywood to take stock this year, but rather than reflect on some disastrous project planning, the studios are looking for someone else to blame – and right now it’s the popular review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes that’s taking the brunt.
According to Deadline, studios honchos are becoming increasingly frustrated at the influence the site is exerting, particularly with Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge and Dwayne Johnson vehicle Baywatch performing well below expectation.
“Insiders close to both films blame Rotten Tomatoes, with Pirates 5 and Baywatch respectively earning 32% and 19% Rotten. The critic aggregation site increasingly is slowing down the potential business of popcorn movies. Pirates 5 and Baywatch aren’t built for critics but rather general audiences, and once upon a time these types of films — a family adventure and a raunchy R-rated comedy — were critic-proof. Many of those in the industry severely question how Rotten Tomatoes computes the its ratings, and the fact that these scores run on [the movie-ticket buying site] Fandango (which owns RT) is an even bigger problem.”
While the Pirates movies have traditionally made boat-loads of cash despite critical indifference, is it really that surprising that an ageing Johnny Depp hamming it up for the fifth time is finally running out of steam? Can Disney really be that naive?
Or in the case of Baywatch, a movie that simply wasn’t funny nor clever enough to sustain the run time, would it not be preferable to question the scriptwriters? The movie was expected to hit around $50m in its opening week, but eventually finished at just under half that.
Pirates was also a huge disappointment, taking a third less than the $100m projection.
Still, if there’s one thing that Hollywood has realised, that perhaps the US media hasn’t, it’s that the US box office is no longer the biggest chunk of money to mine. Rather, the European and Asian markets will more than double the domestic takings – and the studios will find creative ways of making the movies perform at a less to avoid paying any taxes. So who is really losing out here?
As ever, it’s probably us.