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CinemaScore is one of the factors studios use to judge how successful a film will become at the box office. Unlike Rotten Tomatoes, which calculates a rating based on movie critic reviews, CinemaScore comes straight from the opinion of the average moviegoer. Viewers are surveyed on opening day how they feel about a movie, giving a score of A+ to F. Most movies get either A or B, but in the almost 40 years that CinemaScore has existed, only 12 movies have ever gotten an F grade. That number increased by one with the release of mother! last weekend. The movie has been incredibly divisive on all fronts, and while it's gotten the worst score possible from audiences, it's not quite an accurate label.
Actually, a few of the F scored movies are not as bad as their rare ranking would imply. You'd think a movie would have to be a real stinking pile to get an F (and some of them are) but some of them are just... kind of bad, and sort of defensible. It's hard to say what exactly qualifies for an F, but the trend seems to be that it's either: A) a polarizing horror movie; B) had a terrible ending, or; C) was so incredibly off-putting that it upsets everyone who sees it. True, none of these seven movies are particularly good, but F? Let's try C-.
Let's get the most recent addition to the fabled F Halls out of the way first. The film mother! is doing the rounds right now for a lot of reasons. The Darren Aronofsky film might just be the most divisive movie of the year. Even among film critics, there is no clear consensus of the movie. Ask any three people what the movie is actually about and you'll get three different answers. It's an unsettling affair that drills the viewer relentlessly and not even the likability of Jennifer Lawrence can entirely save it. Mother! at least has the distinction of being a thoughtful topic of conversation and a genuine piece of cinema. Can a film really be an F when it can be equally argued to a masterpiece or a mess?
Would you push a button to receive $1 million, but somewhere in the world, someone you don't know dies? WOULD YOU?! That's the question at the heart of The Box, a 2009 thriller starring Cameron Diaz. Evidently, the answer was not entertaining, because audiences hated this movie when it released. This is likely to do with the film's ending, which is a pretty big downer. Plus, the confusing and vague nature of the purpose behind the button and why this is happening at all does not make for a rewarding experience. But the film isn't terrible, just blatantly average. At least it poses an interesting ethics question to debate over the dinner table.
Killing Them Softly
Killing Them Softly might be the most divisive movie on this list between movie critics and the audience. Critics were much more open to Brad Pitt's crime film, giving it a respectable 74% on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences were far less forgiving, kicking the movie down into the bowels of F-dom. Killing Them Softly is a serviceable movie, but people were turned off by how cynical and dark it was. The movie ends with Brad Pitt's hitman slamming America for perceived false ideals while Obama's 2008 acceptance speech literally plays in the background. It worked for some, but lots more left the theater with a sour taste in their mouths.
The horror genre tends to produce the most polarizing movies for audiences. Several horror movies have an F CinemaScore (Wolf Creek, Darkness, Devil Inside, The Wicker Man), and while Silent House is no gem, it has some things going for it. Mainly, the movie is technically proficient, appearing as if the whole movie was done in one long take. Aside from having Elizabeth Olsen front and center, that's the only thing that really set this horror apart, and it deserves points for having some visual ambition. However, the ending is straight up bad and exploitive, so it's little wonder audiences hated it so much. It's all about sticking the landing, people.
Similar to mother!, Bug is a psychological horror movie that made people's skin crawl. Starring Michael Shannon and Ashley Judd, the film follows a paranoid couple who obsess over conspiracy theories about the government and insects, eventually spiraling downward so far that they believe that microscopic bugs are living inside of them. It's as creepy as it sounds, but director William Friedkin's (The Exorcist) visceral style and camerawork make this an intriguing watch from a technical perspective. Also, the two leads are great. Bug is an uncomfortable film, but that's on purpose, and it was never going to be something the majority of people would enjoy.
Technically, Solaris is probably the best movie to have an F CinemaScore, but it was never going to be a crowd-pleaser. Directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring George Clooney, the movie was essentially a sci-fi romance set out in deep space, but with very little action and lots of talking. It's slow-moving and cerebral, offering heavy doses of metaphysical questions about existence and emotion for people to ponder. It's not for everyone, and it just might have been too boring or heavy for most people. But that's exactly what Solaris is supposed to be, so if that's your thing, you'd probably really like it. Everyone else should rent Gravity.
Dr. T & The Women
For the life of me, I can not figure out why people hated Dr. T & The Women. Not because I like the movie, mind you, but because I can not see any reason why people so passionately hated it that they gave it an F. As far as I can tell, it's a harmless and uncomplicated romantic comedy about gynecologist Richard Gere and the women in his life. It's not Shakespeare shooting three-pointers but an F just feels extreme,, especially for a Robert Altman movie that examines complicated characters, and avoids the easy cliches. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that it ends with Gere getting sucked into a tornado (yes, that happens) and then waking up totally fine to deliver a random baby. Yes, the movie ends with an actual child birth. People don't like their romantic comedies to be weird like that. That ending might have triggered all of the F's.