Do Online Review Aggregators Really Harm Hollywood Revenues?

Hollywood had one of its worst summer seasons ever from a box office point of view – it had the lowest revenues for over a decade. Since Hollywood as a whole is a collection of businesses that expect to make money off their products and the decline in revenues has hurt them at their pockets. As you might expect, they have been trying to find a culprit for their dwindling revenues. According to them, part of the blame falls on the viewers themselves, growing bored of the sequels, remakes, and reboots filling the summer lineup, choosing to play games at All Slots online casino instead of paying for a movie ticket. The other factor that has hurt the revenues of movie studios this year is, allegedly, the increasing popularity of movie review websites – namely Rotten Tomatoes. The service that gives movies either a “Fresh” or a “Rotten” rating based on the opinions published by a series of critics, both in the printed press and online.

Director and producer Brett Ratner said at the Sun Valley Film Festival that he had the utmost respect for film critics but considers the online rating service to be “the worst thing that we have in today’s movie culture”.

I think it’s the destruction of our business. I have such respect and admiration for film criticism. When I was growing up film criticism was a real art. And there was intellect that went into that. And you would read Pauline’s Kael’s reviews or some others, and that doesn’t exist anymore. Now it’s about a number. A compounded number of how many positives vs. negatives. Now it’s about, ‘What’s your Rotten Tomatoes score?’ And that’s sad because the Rotten Tomatoes score was so low on Batman v Superman I think it put a cloud over a movie that was incredibly successful.

“Rotten Tomatoes” is a movie and TV show review aggregator that’s very popular among viewers all over the world. While at times it is wrong, most often its score is a good indicator of a movie’s quality. But the rating the service publishes is not always an indicator of the revenues of a movie: despite its 10% approval rating, “The Emoji Movie” had box office revenues of $83 million, while Kathryn Bigelow’s R-rated “Detroit” has an 83% approval rating but revenues under $15 million.

Even though Rotten Tomatoes ratings show up all over the Fandango website (they are part of the same company, after all), it would be a mistake to blame the review aggregator, and the other similar online services, for the dwindling revenues of the Hollywood factory of dreams. Ticket sales have been declining slowly but constantly over the last few decades, and the main culprit is probably the business model employed by the studios: spend insane amounts on blockbusters and hope for the best. This has led to a series of big hits and a few big busts, but nothing much in between.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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