2017 hasn't been a banner year at the box office for many big budget motion pictures.
This summer, a few major sequels and two potential franchise starters - Transformers: The Last Knight, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, The Mummy, and Baywatch - arrived DOA, inducing a shudder of fear amongst many industry leaders. Meanwhile, similar movies that were initially seen as gambles (Logan, Wonder Woman, IT) succeeded by defying certain rules of tentpole picture-making ("don't make a superhero film R-rated", "don't make a female-fronted comic book picture", "don't make a nearly two-and-a-half hour horror movie"). As is their way, studio heads concocted a slew of excuses based on rather predictable straw man logic. After Baywatch tanked, Paramount's President of worldwide marketing and distribution, Megan Colligan, told The Hollywood Reporter:
“The reviews really hurt the film, which scored great in test screenings. We were all surprised. It is a brand that maybe relied on a positive critical reaction more than we recognized.”
When The Mummy failed to land a huge opening a little over two weeks later, director Alex Kurtzman commented to Business Insider regarding that film's poor reviews:
“Obviously, that’s disappointing to hear. The only gauge that I really use to judge it is having just traveled around the world and hearing the audiences in the theaters. This is a movie that I think is made for audiences and in my experience, critics and audiences don’t always sing the same song. I’m not making movies for them. Would I love them to love it? Of course, everybody would, but that’s not really the endgame. We made a film for audiences and not critics, so my great hope is they will find it and they will appreciate it.”
Naturally, film writers did not take kindly to this dismissal of their opinions (not to mention the fact that Colligan literally says "there seems to be no way to combat [negative reviews]", as if confirming the production of a solidly crafted motion picture was out of their game-plan from the start). In their lengthy feature "Can Rotten Tomatoes Crush a Movie at the Box Office?", The Ringer interviewed a few film critics regarding how they felt their reviews impacted the financial gain or loss of a particular title.
A.O. Scott of the New York Times waved off the notion of "making movies for audiences, not critics" outright:
"...it’s basically what studios and