Writing a guest column for The Hollywood Reporter, legendary director Martin Scorsese opened up about his feelings regarding review aggregate sites like Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic, and Cinemascore. Perhaps not surprisingly, he isn’t a fan:
“They rate a picture the way you’d rate a horse at the racetrack, a restaurant in a Zagat’s guide, or a household appliance in Consumer Reports. They have everything to do with the movie business and absolutely nothing to do with either the creation or the intelligent viewing of film. The filmmaker is reduced to a content manufacturer and the viewer to an unadventurous consumer.”
He definitely has a point. After all, some films review poorly only to gain a cult following over time. Take John Carpenter’s The Thing, or the quirky Halloween film Hocus Pocus: Both films reviewed abysmally at the times of their respective release, but are now considered highly enjoyable films. How would these films have gained any traction if people merely listened to the reviews, and stayed away? Reviews are simply opinions. It’s wholly possible to have a completely different opinion to that of an established critic. To put all of these subjective opinions in a blender, and assign a “score” is dangerous. Useful? Perhaps, but proceed with caution. You might just miss out on a film you’ll love.