Does Anyone Care About Critics' Opinions Anymore?
by Alex Billington
May 8, 2007
Given the immense $151 million opening weekend box office success of Spider-Man 3, it's blatantly obvious that no one really cares what critics say anymore, whether good or bad. Take this point to start: everyone will always have their own opinion of a movie, no matter what. You might come to often agree with a certain critic, but you'll always hold your own opinions. And you can't forget the guilty pleasures we all have.
I was fueled to start considering the reasons why critics even exist anymore from an article on CHUD, and simply from the results of Spider-Man 3's opening weekend. It always seems like the biggest blockbusters and even some of those hidden gems (take The Fountain for example) are always bashed and torn apart by professional critics, but that doesn't ever have an impact or effect on the money it earns or its eventual cult status (since The Fountain didn't earn that much in theaters). Does a critics' opinion ever have an impact anymore, besides on the few independent or dramatic films that are going for Oscar buzz?
Even the word-of-mouth on Spider-Man 3 is a bit troublesome, but no low opinion, whether from your friend or whether from that critic in your newspaper, is going to thwart you from seeing Spider-Man 3, a movie you've been waiting 3 years to see! That's what happens with almost every movie these days. Although I'm no supporter of those terrible movies like Are We Done Yet? that somehow make money in theaters, the critics are much worse on those than anything, but that doesn't matter, people still go to see it, no matter what's said. I've realized, no critics' opinions, of past or present movies (in terms of sequels and trilogies) ever effect an opening weekend or box office. You hear all the buzz about critics hating the second in a series, yet the third comes out and the buzz is high enough that no one cares what they said, because the personal opinion of the general public is what rules here.
Who out there really takes what a critic says to heart? Is there anyone, and if there is please identify yourself, that will not go see a movie because of bad reviews, when they really want to see it or are persuaded by the other plentiful methods of marketing and promotion? Or an even better question, would ridding the world of the prominent placement of critics in this industry and the media have a beneficial or detrimental effect on Hollywood and the success of movies? To be honest, I don't think it would. I think we could exist without the stuck up critics everywhere that bash movies every Friday in your newspaper and still see great movies as well as the entertaining blockbusters (that would still make their money).
The requirement for critics in our society and reviews that mean nothing to anyone really only seems like a necessary thing that somehow fuels the industry. It's like speed limits, without them, we'd all crash and it would be mayhem, but with them, we hate them and wish they weren't there. But even so, critics and their opinions mean nothing and have no impact anymore. Only occasionally (and I mean rarely) do they ever have a poignant impact, but on a regular basis, and especially during the summer, we could do entirely without them and still flourish.
Reader Feedback - 9 Comments
I care what critics say (not because I write reviews on my website), but because I usually agree with the consensus. I don't follow a single critic, but I use RottenTomatoes.com to guide me. Unless it's an "event movie", even if it's something I've been waiting to see a long time if their "tomatometer" rates it at say, 20%, I won't waste my money. Vic
Screen Rant on May 8, 2007
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Spider-Man 3 may have gotten worse reviews than its previous films, but last time I checked it was still freshc over at rottentomatoes. More critics liked this than didn't...so even if audiences did listen to critics, why would they stay away?
chrisg266 on May 9, 2007
i am so tired of this argument. OF COURSE critics matter. They just don't matter in the ways that people are pretending they should. Criticism is not a consumer reports process. They've never had any say over opening weekend box office. never. "thumbs up thumbs down" might be useless in the days of 8 figure advertising budgets but that's not what criticism should really be about anyway. Criticism is supposed to help you understand film art more clearly and give shape to your own ideas about what you've seen (obviously it's more important for some films than for others). and if there was no criticism hollywood would be even lazier because no one would be telling them when they are producing crap --the public obviously is incapable of doing this: look at the box office of WILD HOGS or ARE WE DONE YET? all major art forms have a tandem history of criticism. To pretend that movies shouldn't have that is really depressing...
Nathaniel R on May 9, 2007
Critics matter, but nowhere as much as we think we do. One thing I appreciate on this site is that we all know that everybody's opinion matters. The only thing that really seperates a cricic from the audience from opening weekend on is that the critic got to see the movie before everybody else. When it comes down to it, that's the biggie. Ok, that and we're actually willing to put our opinions out there for acceptance or ridicule. I think that in this day and age, people read reviews to get an idea of what they're in for. The only time that a review might keep someone from seeing a movie is if they don't care one way or another and just want to see a movie. If you want to see a movie, you're going to go no matter what. I knew full well what a steaming turd Ghost Rider was going to be before seeing it. Did it stop me? No, and not just because we were talking about it on the show the next day. I saw it because I wanted to and I just used the reviews to prepare myself for what I was about to endure. In the end, people usually use reviews to support their opinion of a film. Someone could tell me I was dead on in my opinion of The Fountain because they loved it and then that same person could tell me I'm full of it because I hated the end of Happy Feet. We're here to entertain and give criticism of an art form. I can't think of another art form where the critics think they're bigger rockstars than the artists. It simply amazes me. I sure as hell hope that never happens to us. Of course, we'll always have readers to smack us back to earth, as you well should.
FS Dave on May 9, 2007
No. A critic is a useless artifact of bygone days, before the internet and $100 million blockbusters. Give it up. The rating is all the sound bite movie-goers want. Long live Rotten Tomatoes. Now, that said, there is hope. A film enthusiast can still have an impact on whether or not I see a movie. An enthusiast questions the film, not criticizes. They ask questions about the film, such as "In Closer which character was most at fault?" The commentary of an enthusiast inspires a reader to see a film, but never discourages. Critics are fighting a losing battle against the million dollar marketing machine. Instead the enthusiast expands the reader knowledge on the movie itself or related subjects associated to the movie. If you want to be a critic, give a rating and be done with it. But for me, I am more interested in what makes a movie more interesting than I original thought.
grendel on May 9, 2007
I think Jim Emerson at Scanners::Blog got it right in his article "Crix Nix Kix Flix (Part I)". Have they ever cared about critics opinions? Did Americans run out and see The Passion of Joan of Arc in the 1930s just because critics loved it? The same goes for every generation. Critics have been largely ignored and high budget blockbuster films usually do reasonably well unless they are just horrible like Matrix Revolutions. I didn't read a critics review before going to see Spider Man 3 because I knew what I was going for--expensive action. I sometimes check critics reviews for new movies but normally they aren't important. Critics are important when I'm trying to watch good cinema--not just entertaining cinema. They can help you understand and appreciate a movie better. So, I don't like this argument. Critics don't change mass patterns of movie goers. But they help to define and recognize what is good cinema much in the way that literature reviewers define good books. It's an important function in society because it helps to recognize what is important work. And as a regular movie goer you don't appreciated it. But once you start going to movies and noticing features of cinema--trying to figure out how and why films were made, what tricks the director is using, what innovations he has--then critics and not just reviewers willing to give good ratings to popular films are important. And you needn't agree with the critics. Good movies aren't always the ones you like. I would sooner watch Starship Troopers than The Passion of Joan of Arc... but I realize the latter is better cinema and it should have a special place because of its innovation and style.
Fritz on May 25, 2007
I care what critics say, but even if they say something bad, it usually isn't gonna stop me unless its REALLY bad... but usually you can pick out those ultra terrible films from the trailer, so it's not a problem... I think though, that people in general definitely don't care... I mean critics have always loved indies, and they almost never do exceedingly well... also the only reason why I think this did well was because it was a sequel and people liked the previous ones. The main reason why studios like sequels is that they are "best bets."
Tina on Jan 23, 2008
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