Overall, 2020 has been off to a good start at the movies. The box office is already running significantly ahead of this time last year, thanks to 2019 holdover movies like Star Wars and Jumanji, as well as the success of Bad Boys For Life, but along with the successes, comes some fairly big black marks, as 2020 has already received its second movie to obtain an F CinemaScore, The Turning.
It seems that January horror movies are just not that popular with moviegoers right now, considering the first F CinemaScore movie of the year was The Grudge, which came out during the very first weekend of January. Now, the newest horror movie of the year, based on The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, has joined this unfortunate class of 2020.
An F CinemaScore, as reported by Deadline, is a pretty rare thing overall. CinemaScores are given by audiences on opening night in a handful of cities in the country. As audiences that are attending movies on opening night are likely the most interested in a given movie, CinemaScores are often quite high. Anything below a B is somewhat unusual, making the F score that much more surprising. That means the fact that two movies would get an F score that close together is unlikely.
Having said that, January is often one of those points in the calendar where movies that don't have any other obvious home get dumped, and so in both the case of The Grudge and The Turning we're talking about movies that were never expected to be real winners.
Both films had actually been done for quite some time, The Turning was originally set for release in February of 2019, but for various reasons, in the case of The Grudge, one of the reasons was a lawsuit, these films sat on shelves unreleased, which is not what happens to movies that studios think are going to be successful.
Still, there's an audience for every movie, and CinemaScore usually captures that audience. If you're showing up to see The Turning on opening night, then you likely really love Gothic horror movies, and have been looking forward to this one. In that case, most people would give the movie the benefit of the doubt to some degree. That might not always mean giving it a perfect score, but it usually means being kinder than others might be.
So while the fact that these movies may have had their own troubles isn't surprising, the fact that they've both been so brutally viewed by the audience somewhat is. Having said that, they're far from the first films to receive F CinemaScores, and a lot of movies that have done poorly with CinemaScore aren't actually viewed that widely as poor movies.
Maybe everybody who saw the film opening night was a serious Henry James fan and just didn't appreciate the liberties The Turning took with the story.