This past Memorial Day Weekend was one of the weakest the box office has seen in a long time. Why was this? Well, according to some, it's apparently all Rotten Tomatoes fault. Both Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Baywatch underperformed at the box office last weekend and some are blaming the critic aggregation website for the results.
The issue seems to be that there's a significant discrepancy between both movies' box office results and how they performed with test audiences prior to release. According to Deadline, both films did remarkably well will test audiences, Baywatch scored over a 91 multiple times and Pirates of the Caribbean 5 put up the best scores in the history of the franchise. These results led the studios to expect big things from both films. Since that didn't happen, the studios are looking for a reason, and they've landed on Rotten Tomatoes.
The feeling, according to unnamed "insiders," is that both of these films would previously have been described as "critic proof," meaning audiences would go to seem them regardless of reviews, but somehow Rotten Tomatoes making all reviews available to the public has made that no longer the case.
It can't be argued that people are certainly looking to Rotten Tomatoes to get a general consensus of how a movie is being viewed. However, it seems like something of a leap to blame the site for killing a film's box office. The fact is that "critic proof" movies still exist. Look no further than the last two DC films from Warner Bros. Both movies were critically lambasted, yet both went on to make Scrooge McDuck going for a swim levels of money. Audiences go to see the movies they want to see.
It honestly feels like that people involved with the studios are trying to argue that, maybe the movies were bad, but if only there wasn't a website telling people that, they'd still make all the money. I think they may be giving critics a bit too much credit. While people might be interested to know what critics have to say, that doesn't mean they make ticket purchasing decisions based solely on their response. People will always have different reactions to art and the only way for any one person to know how they'll respond is to see it for themselves.
It's certainly interesting if these films tested well and then failed to find an audience in theaters. By all means, studios should investigate this discrepancy. However, a website that collects reviews is almost certainly not the X factor here. It's just a website that collects film reviews. The score only tells you how critics viewed the movie, it doesn't actually determine whether the film is good, or if it's worth your hard earned money.