Batman Versus Superman' versus the box office versus you

Batman Versus Superman' versus the box office versus you


A surprising, little-known fact: the movie-going experience is a completely subjective one. The things that I hope to get out of a movie might not necessarily be the same things that you're looking for from the same movie.

There's no shame in this. I am, after all, a pretentious literature major and film columnist, and you, if my sources are correct, are a well-established and middle-aged businesswoman from South Sioux City, Nebraska. I'm no better than you; you're no better than me. We're simply use to approaching movies in different ways.

Keeping that in mind, then, there's an almost countless number of ways to judge whether or not a movie is, concisely put, good.

Two of the most prominent ways, as I'm sure you know, are 1) a movie's gross income, and, 2) critics' opinions, which our friends at Rotten Tomatoes condense into a numerical percentage through a process that they claim is scientific but is really (probably) just magic or a bored intern guessing. I say that because it's pretty rare, nowadays, that a solid correlation exists between the two numbers.

You will have noticed, for example, because you are not only a successful businesswoman, but also an attentive movie-goer, that Warner Bros.'s latest superhero flick, "Batman v Superman," which opened two weekends ago, is successful on the first front yet defamed on the second. It dominated the box office during its own opening weekend, achieving the seventh biggest opening weekend box office performance in North American film history and the fourth biggest international opening of all time.

It's not screwing around. It's breaking some considerable records.

Rotten Tomatoes, however, rates the movie at an unimpressive 29 percent as of April 4, 2016. To wit: the movie's bad, by their standards.

When the box office records are combined with the overwhelmingly negative critical response the movie has garnered, some pretty interesting questions emerge. Foremost in my mind is, 'Does box office performance even matter these days?' It matters to the studios, yes, and is all but indicative of whether or not a sequel is on its way, but in terms of a movie's quality, do box office ratings really say anything?

Look with me at the top five international box office opening performers of all time: 'Star Wars VII,' 'Jurassic World,' 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2,' 'Batman v Superman,' and 'Furious 7.'

Notice that all except Harry Potter, which opened in 2011, have opened in the last year and a half. These stats, for the record, are adjusted for inflation, so these really are the record holders of all time.

I ask you, movie-loving fam, why is that? Is it because the best movies ever have only just been produced in the last two years?

Of course it isn't. Box office performance, therefore, may say something about a film, but it certainly can't say everything.

Altogether missing from this discussion of critics and ratings, by the way, is another pretty important cog in the cinema machine: you.

We can talk all we want of critics and ratings and net value, but who, in the end, gets to decided whether or not a movie is good?

You. The well-established middle-aged businesswoman. The normal movie-goer.

You get to decide for yourself, and you get to opine. Movie critics and Rotten Tomatoes and a solid dollar amount can't tell you what to like. No one can.

Besides me, obviously. But I'll put the responsibility in your hands this time.

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