Study Finds Rotten Tomatoes Is Innocent

With the box-office for the Summer proving so dismal in the United States, fingers have been pointed in numerous directions with one common assertion being that critics review aggregation sites are to blame – specifically Rotten Tomatoes.

Now though, a new study issued Monday by USC’s Entertainment Technology Center and its Data & Analytics Project director Yves Berquist (via Variety) has crunched the numbers from the years 2000 to 2017 and come to an inescapable conclusion – they’re not to blame. In fact, he says:

“Rotten Tomatoes scores have never played a very big role in driving box office performance, either positively or negatively.”

In Summer 2017 alone there is reportedly no positive or negative correlation between RT scores and box office performance. In fact for films grossing more than $300 million worldwide, the median Rotten Tomatoes Score this Summer has gone up to 77.5% – the previous high was 73% in 2013.

What about the critics/audience divide? Turns out there is none. Analysis of the audience’s own Rotten Tomatoes scores found them in lockstep with the critics:

“There’s virtually no difference between critics’ scores and audiences’ scores, and the more successful the film is at the box office, the smaller the difference. Which means that audiences are becoming experts at smelling a ‘bad’ movie and staying away.”

Berquist’s analysis also confirms that big production budgets are certainly no guarantor of box office success, with the opposite now proving true:

“As financial exposure rises, so does financial risk. This is not good (for a long time it was the opposite), and is a substantial reason why Wall Street has been so tough on entertainment stocks lately.”

The study comes after some notable flops at the box-office this past season including multiple sequels, reboots and adaptations of old TV shows.