Some Studios Want to Cancel Critic Screenings After the Failure of Pirates 5 and Baywatch


Over the past few years, at some point during the summer movie season, there usually comes an inevitable discussion over the role of film critics and their relevance to the average moviegoer. In the past, that discussion has usually pointed out the growing gap between fans and critics, but this year the conversation is going in a slightly different direction. After the domestic box office failure of several May blockbusters including King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Baywatch, all of which received abysmal reviews, it would appear that moviegoers are actually paying attention to critics after all. The failure of these movies is being blamed on Rotten Tomatoes specifically, with some studio execs now reportedly looking for new ways to avoid negative reviews. Hit the jump for more details.

According to Deadline, the disappointing turnout for both Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Baywatch is setting off alarm bells across Hollywood, as studio insiders scramble to explain their poor performance. For both movies, the numbers came in well below their tracking estimates (Pirates 5 was expected to hit $90M-$100M but ended up with $62M, while Baywatch was aiming for $40M and wound up with just $18.5M). Although you can simply say they were bad movies, both earned very high scores from test audiences as well, which would seem to indicate that something else scared people away.

All signs point toward the influence of Rotten Tomatoes, which slapped Pirates and Baywatch with 32% and 19% on the Tomatometer respectively. Obviously there have always been questions about how RT arrives at these scores, but up until now the belief was that many summer blockbusters were immune to its effects anyway. Some studio execs are now said to be contemplating a push to “hold off critic screenings until opening day or cancel them all together.” While that seems unlikely, we will just have to see how the summer progresses. You can bet all eyes will be on Transformers: The Last Knight, the fifth installment in the ultimate critic proof movie franchise. Do you think Rotten Tomatoes scores can actually have an impact or is there another explanation for the slow box office so far this summer?

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  • Nick P.

    I am actually with the studios on this. There have been a number of movies I didn’t see simply because of the tomato-meter. Sometimes it is nice to be surprised.

  • Jameson

    Given that the summer movie season is now all year long and ticket prices continue to go up, I think it’s safe to say people are more selective with what they say and may listen closer to what critics say. But yeah, instead of trying to make better films let’s just cancel critic screenings and try to dupe people even more into watching garbage.

  • 1138sw

    So when franchises like Fast and Furious and Transformers and Jurassic Park smash BO records, critics are a thing of the past. But when you release turkeys and the produce turkeys at the BO critics matter?

    Granted movies test well but I’ve been to enough focus groups to know how things can get really slanted. Me think studios should concentrate on making good movies….that might help.

    Oh and BTW Sean maybe Alien: Covenant should be added to that list failures?

  • Matt the Kiwi

    They can’t have it both ways – sometimes crowds will flock to movies simply because the critics rave about it. I get the sense that we’re currently seeing this happen with Wonder Woman…not a flick many of us would rush to see at the cinema but given enough positive reviews we might be persuaded.
    So I guess they should just cancel critic screenings for shit movies…yeah, that’ll work.

  • Tim

    The free and open internet for sure has an effect. The people green-lighting these movies are probably using “fool-proof” algorithms ala the US election.

  • Larry Morgan

    why wouldn’t many of us rush to see wonder woman?

  • Matt the Kiwi

    No one thing in particular – just that there’s not much anticipation around it (compared to something like GotG2); a lot of us are little over superhero movies now (I still watch them all but hardly ever bother seeing them in the cinema), the trailers didn’t blow anybody away and there’s no massive built-in following. That was my sense of it – that most people would wait to see if it was deemed any good before checking it out themselves but it’d be interesting to hear what other people thought.

  • LordAwesome

    Stop making shit movies then.

  • Laura

    This seems like a good idea, though, great movies aren’t guaranteed to make money. ‘The Nice Guys’ anyone??

  • Nick P.

    The problem with this argument is it assumes the critics are always right, which I would strongly disagree with.

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  • Beat_C

    well said.

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    Thanks! Appreciate it!

  • Jameson

    I’m not saying critics are always right, I’m just saying if studios are worried that bad reviews will hinder the BO success it’s not a solution to just stop critic screenings. If anything that will read as a bad sign when there are no reviews for a movie.

    Maybe studios should consider that no one was asking for a Pirates 5 or a Baywatch movie so once the negative reviews hit it confirmed why everyone should stay away.