Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Baywatch were never going to be critical darlings. The former is the fifth film in a franchise that should have been retired years ago, if Hollywood had any mercy at all. And the other is an action-comedy about lifeguards. Enough said. Both movies led the domestic box office to its worst Memorial Day weekend showing in nearly 20 years.
Insiders close to both films blame Rotten Tomatoes, with Pirates 5 and Baywatch respectively earning 32% and 19% Rotten. The critic aggregation site increasingly is slowing down the potential business of popcorn movies. Pirates 5 and Baywatch aren’t built for critics but rather general audiences, and once upon a time these types of films — a family adventure and a raunchy R-rated comedy — were critic-proof. Many of those in the industry severely question how Rotten Tomatoes computes the its ratings, and the fact that these scores run on [the movie-ticket buying site] Fandango (which owns RT) is an even bigger problem.
Dwayne Johnson, who stars in Baywatch, publicly called out critics and then schooled them on movie economics.
Bold move from this critic who watched #Baywatch w/ other critics who laughed their ass off, but then they decide to trash it publicly. https://t.co/k8x6XFBzPd
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) May 25, 2017
Oh boy, critics had their venom & knives ready. Fans LOVE the movie. Huge positive scores. Big disconnect w/ critics & people. #Baywatchhttps://t.co/K0AQPf6F0S
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) May 26, 2017
Whaa? Who taught you economics? 35-45% of your budget in just one territory (US) is excellent. Our worldwide rollout begins next week.
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) May 28, 2017
Filmmaker Brett Ratner, who directed such classics as Rush Hour and X-Men: The Last Stand, has called Rotten Tomatoes “the worst thing that we have in today’s movie culture.” He told Entertainment Weekly:
In Middle America it’s, ‘Oh, it’s a low Rotten Tomatoes score so I’m not going to go see it because it must suck.’ But that number is an aggregate and one that nobody can figure out exactly what it means, and it’s not always correct. I’ve seen some great movies with really abysmal Rotten Tomatoes scores.