Study: How Movie Reviews Impact Box Office Numbers

Project Casting

A new study finds that positive movie reviews have a huge impact on box office numbers.

Movie reviews do not have the same impact they once had in the past. During the era of Roger & Ebert, a single thumbs up or thumbs down could significantly change the box office numbers across the country.

However, after analyzing a ton of data and box office numbers, Metacritic has determined that reviews still have an impact on how well a movie does at the box office.

Two recent movies that were bashed by critics include Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Zoolander. Both of these movies turned out to be major disappointments at the box office, with Batman v. Superman declining considerably in its second week after a surprising opening weekend.

Metacritic took upon themselves to determine whether positive reviews impact box office numbers. The website concludes that movies deemed “good” tend to make the most money.

Nationwide releases are heavily marketed prior to their release dates, and—especially for “event” films—thousands of tickets may be sold before a film’s first review appears online. It would be fair to assume, then, that many mainstream movies are somewhat “review-proof” for their opening weekends. However, moviegoers certainly seem to be able to sniff out crummy movies in advance, as there is a surprisingly strong correlation between film quality and opening weekend grosses:

Another conclusion found in the study is that movies are most affected by bad reviews in their second week.

After the initial wave of support from any built-in fanbase, films perceived as poor quality will presumably fizzle out rather quickly, while those bolstered by positive reviews will continue to attract filmgoers. The data support this assumption, with ticket sales for lousy films falling off much more sharply over the first week than those for better quality releases.

It’s an interesting look at how movie reviews have an impact on box office sales and based upon recent movie reviews of Captain America: Civil War, Disney/Marvel is about to make a ton of money.

What do you think? Share with us your thoughts in the comments below.