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Martin Scorsese on Rotten Tomatoes and Box Office Obsession

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Melody Bot, Oct 10, 2017.

  1. Melody Bot

    Your friendly little forum bot. Staff Member

    This article has been imported from for discussion. All of the forum rules still apply.

    Martin Scorsese, writing at The Hollywood Reporter:

    There is another change that, I believe, has no upside whatsoever. It began back in the ’80s when the “box office” started to mushroom into the obsession it is today. When I was young, box office reports were confined to industry journals like The Hollywood Reporter. Now, I’m afraid that they’ve become…everything. Box office is the undercurrent in almost all discussions of cinema, and frequently it’s more than just an undercurrent. The brutal judgmentalism that has made opening-weekend grosses into a bloodthirsty spectator sport seems to have encouraged an even more brutal approach to film reviewing. I’m talking about market research firms like Cinemascore, which started in the late ’70s, and online “aggregators” like Rotten Tomatoes, which have absolutely nothing to do with real film criticism. They rate a picture the way you’d rate a horse at the racetrack, a restaurant in a Zagat’s guide, or a household appliance in Consumer Reports. They have everything to do with the movie business and absolutely nothing to do with either the creation or the intelligent viewing of film. The filmmaker is reduced to a content manufacturer and the viewer to an unadventurous consumer.

    He’s not wrong.

    And as film criticism written by passionately engaged people with actual knowledge of film history has gradually faded from the scene, it seems like there are more and more voices out there engaged in pure judgmentalism, people who seem to take pleasure in seeing films and filmmakers rejected, dismissed and in some cases ripped to shreds.

    Sounds a little like popular music criticism as well.

    Raku and fenway89 like this.
  2. Turkeylegz


    I am always fascinated when he talks about the industry and cinematic history. It is a shame that nothing can be enjoyed anymore without constant criticism, particularly online.
    Raku, fenway89 and Bayside 182 like this.
  3. Bayside 182

    Wolverine Supporter

    Good points. When deciding to watch a movie at the theater I need to unfortunately check the rotten tomatoes rating if I'm going to fork over that much money (excluding something I definitely want to see in advance) but i think the audience rating is much more in line with what most people I speak to and myself generally feel . This is especially true in comedies, sometimes the "critics" just don't get it.
    Fletchaaa and Turkeylegz like this.
  4. jpmalone4

    Stay Lucky Supporter

    This is true, but it applies to the movie making process as well. Many movies now are safe bets, resurrected old franchises, and mined comic books made purely to make money if not in the US than worldwide.
    Raku likes this.
  5. Anthony_

    A (Cancelled) Dork Prestigious

    The man.
    Turkeylegz likes this.
  6. carlosonthedrums

    Cooler than a polar bear's toenails Prestigious

    As much as I agree with his sentiment that the critical failure of certain films is met with glee by fans and pundits, whenever a dogshit franchise that was put together by clueless studio execs falls on its face, I think the only appropriate reaction is celebrate. We need better entertainment.
    Raku likes this.
  7. I’d argue there’s never been a better time to be alive for great entertainment. There’s too much to even keep up with.
    Raku and FreshnessExpired like this.
  8. jpmalone4

    Stay Lucky Supporter

    Perhaps that's the problem then, maybe it's just too competitive out there, resulting in the criticism going hand in hand with the movie itself.
    Raku likes this.
  9. justin.

    請叫我賴總統 Supporter

    I’ve never had a problem with RT, but a few of my friends have decide to not watch a film because it has a low RT score which has resulted in me going to a cinema by myself.

    There are many movies that I love that have low scores and many movies I can’t watch that have high scores. It’s not convenient to judge a film based on opinions from critics. It’s apparently more of an issue in the US than it is anywhere else.
    Raku and fenway89 like this.
  10. carlosonthedrums

    Cooler than a polar bear's toenails Prestigious

    I just don't see it. If you're referring to television, sure, it's been phenomenal for the past few years...possibly all the way back to the last decade and a half. But these last two years' worth of blockbuster movies have left me baffled as to how most of these things ever got past the initial pitch process. A few manage to shine through the muck as always, but hardly anything that gets a wide release makes me feel like rushing out and watching it in theaters. Especially when I know that if it's even remotely good it will never have a definitive ending.
    Raku likes this.
  11. Helloelloallo

    Trusted Supporter

    I definitely pay attention but really only to the extreme highs and lows. I would say anything from 40-60% you need to see for yourself as it's pretty clear there's a split. If you only see the freshest movies and decide everything not fresh is doo doo, then you're doing yourself a disservice.

    I will say though that I think the movie industry just like music, is being hit by a sense of entitlement from the consumer that is more worrisome than what rotten tomatoes is doing (which honestly just complies options that people could find themselves with research). So many people I know solely pirate their shows, music, movies and honestly don't see or understand that the content they're viewing cost money to make and those artists are due their compensation for it. There is a balance to achieve regarding a fair price for that work, but so many people are now unwilling to pay anything, especially if it's not a rotten tomatoes/blockbuster darling. All music/movies/televisions, even ones that turn out to be mediocre, deserve compensation and that's lost on so many people.
  12. Helloelloallo

    Trusted Supporter

    I think your comment about blockbusters goes back to the original point. There's a surplus of fantastic movies released that aren't blockbusters and if that's all your judging the worth of movies on, you're missing out on so much and helping foster the environment that produces the crap you hate so much.
  13. carlosonthedrums

    Cooler than a polar bear's toenails Prestigious

    No, I definitely don’t intend to be judging the current output solely on those types of films. The fact is, those are what’s keeping me away from theaters in the first place. I’m afraid my original point is getting lost in my attempt to chastise the cynicism of modern-day studios, but I was simply trying to say that there are certain approaches they take to moviemaking nowadays that need to be stamped out and met with poor performances so they can get back to focusing on giving us more Baby Driver, Gravity, The Big Sick, etc. And I don’t mean sequels haha.
    Helloelloallo likes this.
  14. amorningofsleep

    No-rope barbed wire Jones

    I honestly don't think I've ever even been on Rotten Tomatoes before.
  15. Sean Murphy

    Prestigious Supporter

    100% this, its unfortunate but if i am going to shell out $20-30 for a single movie theater experience, I need to do my research first to see if its worth it.
    Bayside 182 likes this.
  16. Sean Murphy

    Prestigious Supporter

    Lately I think when it comes to television, 100% on the nose here. I actively ask people to STOP giving me recommendations on new shows because I just can't keep up. Every time I log into netflix or hulu theres something new that I want to see that ends up being great.

    When it comes to movies though, I am less enthused with the output. It's very easy to say that movies are doing so well because we don't go 2-3 months without a new marvel movie, or a full year now without a new star wars, but if you think outside of major franchises, it seems so rare so get a hit these days at the movies, but that is also completely taste based and preference oriented.
    Raku and carlosonthedrums like this.
  17. PureBlueSF

    Regular Supporter

    I completely stopped giving a shit about movie reviews as soon as Roger Ebert passed away. He was the one critic whose opinion I'd really trust on any movie, though there were certainly times where I completely and utterly disagreed with him. I never bother checking Rotten Tomatoes because I'd rather go into a movie with zero expectations and come out with an unbiased opinion rather than have any sort of preconceived notion about it.
  18. I'd consider entertainment everything from TV to podcasts to books to video games to movies to music to mini-series to comic books to YouTube and back again. There's more great entertainment out, on a daily basis, than I think most people have time in the day. I can't read/watch/listen to everything I want by a long shot.
    Raku likes this.
  19. Malatesta

    i may get better but we won't ever get well Prestigious

    i see RT as a symptom rather than root of the problem; it's just the natural conclusion of quantified reviews in the first place, and i'm inclined to prefer it to the previous standard of using box office to dictate worth (which is still the juggernaut)... it's just the unfortunate consequence of the commodification of art, is that consumers then want metrics to validate their purchases