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I go watch movies in theater every 2 weeks, and when choosing what to see, I decide often based on Rotten Tomato critic score. This score is now shown by Siri after each time I ask which movies are playing, so I don't even have to visit the Rotten Tomatoes website.

My point is, I use that RT rating to decide what to see, and many others probably do too. I'm curious to know how much correlation there is between a movie's RT score and its box office performance.

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    Is there any correlation between box office performance and the movie actually being good? I'd be more interested in the latter, since I know some of my favorite movies were box office flops. – Andrew Thompson Jul 3 '15 at 23:06
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    @Andrew I agree, however I'm curious nevertheless. – Viziionary Jul 3 '15 at 23:38
  • "I'm curious nevertheless." Sounds reasonable. I'm curious about the answer to your question as well. :) – Andrew Thompson Jul 3 '15 at 23:46
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    Not in the biggest blockbuster sense. Just look at the scores of the Michael Bay films. Only one "fresh" but nearly every film earned a ton of money. – Catija Jul 4 '15 at 0:11
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    @Catija I recall Michael Bayer saying WTE "So I make films for teenage boys, sue me!". It made me wonder whether teenage boys a) are indeed prominent ticket buyers for his films, and.. b) tend to vote on films on Rotten Tomatoes (I'm thinking a lot of the votes would come from people in their 20s and 30s, but I could be very wrong about that). – Andrew Thompson Jul 4 '15 at 0:25
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Nope. Based on this plot (by film statistics specialist Stav J. Davis) of 81 films that grossed more than $20M in 2012, there's no straight-line correlation between the Rotten Tomatoes critics score (e.g. public reviews) and the amount that each film made at the box office:

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There's also no significant correlation between the user review scores (although the chi value was fractionally higher if you exclude all films that grossed less than $100M

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In short, how good a film rates on Rotten Tomatoes has little bearing on its box-office take.

  • It would be interesting to see the graphs for lower-grossing films. I would think that there would be more correlation between the two at that point. – Catija Jul 4 '15 at 18:14
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    @Catija - Based on a similar study in 2003, I'd say that the answer is not. The major predictors of box office success are the level of marketing, the number of screens and the named actors. – user7812 Jul 4 '15 at 18:16
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    It would be interesting to see a more up-to-date graph. The OP mentions that the score is shown by Siri, which I'm guessing is a recent development. This would signify that Rotten Tomatoes might be more influential now than it was in 2012 – colmde Feb 21 '17 at 14:30
  • Is there a version of the top chart with a trend-line? That would tell us, better, if there is a correlation. – PoloHoleSet Jul 31 at 15:30

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