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– by Joseph Jammer Medina

In today’s fast-paced, instant-gratification society, it’s very easy to get caught up in the shallowest, most base aspects of any industry. This is especially true of Hollywood, which is very well known for being the shallow of the shallowest.

But what do we mean by shallow? We mean the most base measurements of success. Nowadays, those are Rotten Tomatoes scores and the box office. Rotten Tomatoes tends to have a big impact on what audiences think of a film, and quite frequently dictates what becomes successful and what flops at the box office. And studios, of course, are dictated by the almighty dollar. Audiences speak with their wallets, giving the studios ideas of what they want to see more of, and the cycle continues.

It’s honestly not a bad system. With as much content as we all have to consume, it helps to have these things in place to help us decide. But that’s not to say there aren’t downsides. Case-in-point, films like mother! and Blade Runner 2049 that don’t click with audiences. We say we want unique things, but when they come, we don’t give them the time of day.

Renowned director Martin Scorsese also delved into these problems in a THR guest post, and he made some good points.

“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.”

While he makes some solid points in all this, the problem is that as a viewer, sites like Rotten Tomatoes are helpful in today’s content-laden world. We never want to waste our time watching something that’ll only bore us. Similarly, the box office is a way to help studios direct their efforts. If they know what audiences want, they can help cater their content.

Does this lead to potentially braindead content? Absolutely. This is a double-edged sword situation, though for every big, boring blockbuster, we’re still likely to find all kinds of creative content either on VOD or on streaming services like Netflix.

What do you think of Scorsese’s thoughts? Do you agree? Let us know down below!

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SOURCE: THR

  • Smerdyakov

    I’ve read quite a few Rotten Tomato reviews and they seem primarily concerned with the content of the movie. I think Mr. Scorsese is confusing RT with sites like Box Office Mojo and oftentimes LRM.

    • DubCheezy

      Exactly, By saying sites like RT have “nothing to do with either the creation or the intelligent viewing of films, Scorsese is basically discrediting every movie critic. The demand for more aggregate reviews is a result of the movie industry’s greed pure and simple. Movies are more expensive to go to so the average family with a budget doesn’t won’t risk getting ripped off by a bad film. The problem with Scorsese is he refuses to accept the modern moviegoer’s perspective and realize that the cinema isn’t always the best place to see films anymore.

      • Smerdyakov

        A more legitimate complaint is that movie fans who use the internet now have an outsized influence on reviews. But even in the 1920’s, movie studios were concerned with box office.

  • Kindofabigdeal

    He comes across sounding a little snobbish. Don’t get me wrong, I love Scorsese, I’m just saying that sites like Rotten Tomatoes caters to the braindead masses. Those of us who want to go see a solid popcorn flick without judgement. But this makes it difficult for auteurs to navigate in the industry. You have someone brilliant like Arnofsky score a miss and everyone thinks he sucks. Why? Because he didn’t make something easily digestable to the masses. And that’s fine, but just don’t expect as big of a budget next time. But artists who want to buck trends and share their vision have to be satisfied with the fact that not everyone will share that vision.

    • Victor Roa

      there was that rumor that Scorsese wanted to quit films in the 90s….. I don’t know I think he’s seeing just cycles come and go and he’s been lucky to not be DePalma or Frankenheimer….. ugh, reminded of Coppela’s live stream film with Tom Waits.

  • Kronx

    I think RT’s scoring system is flawed by it’s all or nothing nature, but I like being able to scroll through all of the reviews and decide for myself what the real issues are.

    • Rad4Cap

      “I like being able to scroll through all of the reviews and decide for myself”

      And THAT is what RT is attacking.

  • Victor Roa

    RT is basically Zagat, he’s not wrong with that. Was looking at a window of a Indian resturant and seeing that Zagat sticker going “what does that even mean? All I want is some curry and a Mango Lassi.”

  • Rad4Cap

    While he makes some solid points in all this, the problem is that as a
    viewer, sites like Rotten Tomatoes are helpful in today’s content-laden
    world. We never want to waste our time watching something that’ll only
    bore us. Similarly, the box office is a way to help studios direct their
    efforts. If they know what audiences want, they can help cater their
    content.

    Does this lead to potentially braindead content? Absolutely”

    How does consumer knowledge – and producer’s knowledge of consumer knowledge – “absolutely” “lead to” “braindead content”? Unless, of course, one is claiming the consumer is “braindead”.

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.