Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
First Reviews: 'Hail, Caesar!' Is the Coens at Their Best First Reviews: 'Hail, Caesar!' Is the Coens at Their Best A.O. Scott and Why It's a Critic's Duty to Be Wrong A.O. Scott and Why It's a Critic's Duty to Be Wrong Kristen Wiig's 'AbracaDeborah' Is the Non-Existent Sundance Movie Everyone's Talking About Kristen Wiig's 'AbracaDeborah' Is the Non-Existent Sundance Movie Everyone's Talking About Is There More to Louis C.K.'s 'Horace and Pete' Than Its Surprise Release? Is There More to Louis C.K.'s 'Horace and Pete' Than Its Surprise Release? Film Writers Narrowly Escape Tragedy in Sundance Accident Film Writers Narrowly Escape Tragedy in Sundance Accident Natalie Portman's Doomed Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Gets Shot Down by Critics Natalie Portman's Doomed Western 'Jane Got a Gun' Gets Shot Down by Critics 'Manchester by the Sea,' Indiewire's Sundance Critics Poll Winner, Is Part Tragedy, Part Farce 'Manchester by the Sea,' Indiewire's Sundance Critics Poll Winner, Is Part Tragedy, Part Farce New Classics: Greg Mottola's 'Adventureland' New Classics: Greg Mottola's 'Adventureland' Daily Reads: Why the Disney Vault Needs to Go Away, How the Republican Primaries Have Broken 'SNL,' and More Daily Reads: Why the Disney Vault Needs to Go Away, How the Republican Primaries Have Broken 'SNL,' and More Daily Reads: The 100 Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy, When TV Drama Cover The Iowa Caucus, and More Daily Reads: The 100 Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy, When TV Drama Cover The Iowa Caucus, and More The Totally Insane Ending to 'Little Boy' Has Critics Fuming The Totally Insane Ending to 'Little Boy' Has Critics Fuming Daily Reads: The 'Hollywood Blackout' Controversy at the 1996 Academy Awards, Everybody's a Critic and That's How it Should Be, and More Daily Reads: The 'Hollywood Blackout' Controversy at the 1996 Academy Awards, Everybody's a Critic and That's How it Should Be, and More Could 'The Hateful Eight' Kill Film Instead of Saving It? Could 'The Hateful Eight' Kill Film Instead of Saving It? Adam Sandler's 'The Ridiculous 6' Is Getting Some of the Year's Most Hilariously Scathing Reviews Adam Sandler's 'The Ridiculous 6' Is Getting Some of the Year's Most Hilariously Scathing Reviews One of the Best Movies of 2015 Is Now Available On Demand. (Also It's 16 Minutes Long.) One of the Best Movies of 2015 Is Now Available On Demand. (Also It's 16 Minutes Long.) 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens': Why Rey's Hypercompetence Is a Feature, Not a Bug 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens': Why Rey's Hypercompetence Is a Feature, Not a Bug 'The Gift': A Great Thriller (Almost) Ruined By a Terrible Ending 'The Gift': A Great Thriller (Almost) Ruined By a Terrible Ending New Classic: Asghar Farhadi's 'A Separation' New Classic: Asghar Farhadi's 'A Separation' Daniel Radcliffe's Farting Corpse Stars in the Movie That's Tearing Sundance Apart Daniel Radcliffe's Farting Corpse Stars in the Movie That's Tearing Sundance Apart IMDb Ranks the Top 25 Movies of the Last 25 Years IMDb Ranks the Top 25 Movies of the Last 25 Years

From the Wire: CinemaScore and Critics

Criticwire By Matt Singer | Criticwire June 18, 2013 at 12:32PM

"Can you spare a few minutes? This allows you to be the critic."
3

A CinemaScore ballot.
A CinemaScore ballot.
"Can you spare a few minutes? This allows you to be the critic."

This, according to TheWrap, is the line used by employees of CinemaScore as they hand opening night theatergoers a one-page, six-question ballot (seen at right). Viewers fold down their answers -- including a letter grade, A through F, and whether or not they would rent or buy the film on Blu-ray, DVD, or VOD -- and hand them back. Their responses are averaged out to create a film's "CinemaScore."

The results of these paper foldings are often included in weekend box office reports, where they're used as an indicator of audience reaction and a predictor of word-of-mouth: a good CinemaScore typically means a movie stands a decent shot at sticking around in theaters for a while; a bad one typically means it doesn't.

The men who run CinemaScore, Harold and Ed Mintz, seem like smart guys; and this quote in particular from the former suggests he understands his business very well:

"It's not necessarily the film's quality that's being graded, Mintz cautioned. 'Opening night audiences are already sold on the movie, or what they think the movie is,' he said, 'so in a very real way, it's a test of whether the marketing is in synch with the film and its target audience. The grades say whether the film delivered what the marketing promised.'"

That's perfectly fair -- and, I'm sure, valuable to the studios that use this system to gauge how effectively they've sold their movie to its audience. But getting just the people who show up on opening night, and just the people who show up on opening night who are willing to kill some time on the way to their car grading the movie (meaning they probably have a pretty strong feeling one way or the other) creates to a very specific group of respondents. The lists of movies that have received an A+ CinemaScore -- which includes "The Blind Side" and "42" -- and an F CinemaScore -- including Steven Soderbergh's "Solaris" and Richard Kelly's "The Box" -- speaks volumes about the sort of movies the system favors (feel-good uplift) and those it struggles with (feel-bad ambiguity). I've often said that an F from CinemaScore is maybe the best endorsement a movie can get. That's exaggerating slightly (some stinkers, like "The Devil Inside" get Fs too) -- but only slightly.

I don't know why I care about this stuff; I guess it just sticks in my craw to call it criticism for some reason. Because that's what criticism is; spending thirty seconds on your way out of a movie theater folding a piece of paper.

Read more of "CinemaScore Gets 'A' From Studios, Especially When It Counters Critics."

This article is related to: From the Wire


E-Mail Updates