Earlier today, I reported that Drive had received a C- from the market research company, Cinemascore, as opposed to the B- that Sarah Jessica Parker’s I Just Don’t Know How She Does It received. Granted, for Cinemscore, a B- is a fairly dismal grade, but it puts into perspective just how bad the Cinemascore for Drive was, despite excellent reviews. It’s not the first time this year that Cinemascore audiences have disagreed with critics: Cinemascore gave Hanna a meager C+ (critics 71 percent) and Rango a C+ (critics: 88 percent).
To put that C- into an ever starker perspective: Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, which received a 0 percent on the Tomatometer, received a B from Cinemascore. (This divide can also be seen in last year’s Vampire’s Suck, which received a B from audiences under 18 while only 4 percent of Tomatometer critics rated it favorably.)
So, who are these people responsible for Cinemascores? Actually, they are the typical American audience members. Each Friday, Cinemascore sends out employees to ask people coming out of screenings to grade the movie they just saw. Market researchers use the data to determine the long-term success of the movie. An A+ is very rare (only two this year) while an F is even more rare (only five of all time, include George Clooney’s Solaris). Basically, what they suggest is that mainstream moviegoers do not like indie fare or movies that might hurt their brains. Hollywood studios, in turn, try to gear their movies toward these people (and not intelligent people, or discerning people, or people that understand noun/verb agreement). And that, folks, is why studios make the movies they do. You may wonder why a movie doesn’t fare well on the Tomatometer or Metacritic or IMDb yet still manages to make $400 million, and the answer is simple:
Dumb people love dumb movies.
I’m not saying that dumb people are always wrong (I agree, more or less, with the placement of three of the movies below: Warrior, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and The Lincoln Lawyer), I’m just saying that dumb people loved Russell Brand’s Hop and Adam Sandler’s Just Go with It. You can make your own extrapolations.
Below are the “typical moviegoers” favorite movies of 2011, so far. They are the 23 movies that received at least an A- from Cinemascore. Feel free to make your own judgments.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Kung Fu Panda 2
Jumping the Broom
Madea’s Big Happy Family
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never
Captain America: The First Avenger
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Just Go With It
The Lincoln Lawyer
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
The Hangover Part II
Mr. Popper’s Penguins