Movie reviews matter for box office success, analysts say

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‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and ‘Pixels’ were among the nominations this week for the Golden Raspberry Awards, dubbed the Razzies, a series of tongue-in-cheek awards for the worst movies of 2015. The nominations were box office hits, but l Critical opinion always matters to a film’s success, say industry experts.

Universal’s “Fifty Shades of Grey” has grossed more than $570 million worldwide according to Box Office Mojo, despite earning positive reviews from only 25% of critics on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Meanwhile, Sony’s “Pixels” has grossed over $244 million worldwide with only 17% positive critical reviews. Both were nominated for Worst Picture and Worst Screenplay by the Razzies.

Women pose for photos in front of a poster advertising the film ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ at its opening in Los Angeles on February 12, 2015.

Mark Ralston | AFP | Getty Images

While such runaway successes might suggest that critics’ opinions are irrelevant to a film’s volume of business, but according to Jeff Bock, senior box office analyst for exhibitor relations, it actually has to do with the genre of a film.

“Critical opinion can have a significant impact on a film’s success if it targets a specific genre that is likely to receive criticism. Namely, family films and Oscar-caliber dramas,” Bock said. to CNBC via email.

“Horror movies, comedies and a movie like Fifty Shades are really impervious to reviews because the demand to see them is usually too overwhelming to be distracted by negative reviews.”

Best Picture nominees grossed a total of $1.3 billion

The size of a film also matters for its success. Daniel Loria, senior overseas analyst for BoxOffice Media, explained that negative reviews have a very limited influence on big films that have global audiences, but can have a significant impact on independent films and documentaries.

“A positive response can spotlight a film without the marketing muscle of a major studio, and can make a difference in attracting enough crowds to increase its screen count on subsequent weekends,” he said. to CNBC via email.

Basically, reviews still matter to the industry.

“Critics may not make a difference in big movie revenue, but that doesn’t mean film criticism doesn’t retain an important role in the industry ecosystem,” Loria added. “Especially now, with independent distributors stepping up to make the kind of movies that big studios produce less often.”

The winners of the Razzies, which were first awarded in 1981, will be announced on February 27, the day before the Academy Awards for Best Picture of 2015.

Worst Picture Nominations

The Fantastic Four

Fifty shades of Grey

Jupiter’s Ascendancy

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

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Disclosure: Universal Pictures is a division of Comcast, owner of NBC Universal and CNBC.

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