Do Movie Review Sites Have A Relationship with Box Office Success?

November 17, 2017 2:00 pm Published by

Barnes (NY Times, September 2017) has recently written an interesting article regarding the impact of Rotten Tomatoes ( Infact, the article includes Brett Ratner (Director, Producer, Financier) stating that [Rotten Tomatoes] “is the destruction of our business”.

A quick Google search returns relative research that suggests RT does not have this suggested impact. So, I wanted to find out whether or not other movie review aggregator sites affect box office figures (worldwide) and if these are related to audience perceptions and ratings also. For this, I will be looking at the correlation between box office success, IMDB user ratings and also Metacritic scores.

I firstly collected data through Box Office Mojo for all of the 170 titles that grossed > $1,000,000 for Worldwide box office for this year (2017), up to 10 November 2017. From this, I added in the metacritic and IMDB scores. The Metacritic score is taken from critic review data with each critic review ranges from 0 to 100 and an average is taken. Furthermore, IMDB works in almost the same way as Metacritic, although this is based on non-critic ratings. These ratings range from 1-10 (no 0 available) and are averaged to get the final rating score.

I then looked at the correlation between scores and financial performance based Pearson Product-Moment Correlation Coefficient (PMCC) analysis. Basically, the PMCC measures the linear correlation between two variables. This is measured from -1 and 1. The closer to 0 the PMCC score is, the less of the correclation exists between the two values.
So has Metacritic (critic reviews) or IMDb (user scores) been spoiling box office success

Well, no.

The results showed a PMCC correlation of 0.1 and an r-square value of 0.01. Which means that there is no statistical relationship between the two datasets. Even more surprisingly, the data shows that the impact of Metacritic and IMDb ratings, on the opening weekend box office is even lower at 0.06 (PMCC) and 0.004 r-square value. This is the same for the IMDb user ratings, which show a slight increase from the critic response at 0.17 (PMCC) and 0.004 r-squre value. There is, as expected a positive correlation between the opening weekend and total gross with a PMCC value of 0.96 and r-square value of 0.91.

However, for the films that grossed < $100,000,000 at box office, it seems that there is a small amount of negative correlation between gross and metacritic scores (PMCC -0.2). This shows that, in some cases, the higher grossing films did not receieve as good critic scores (Metacritic).

This also appears to be true for the audience scores of the same films, where the PMCC score is similar to the critic one above (PMCC -0.15).

This is, in part, due to a number of franchised connected films that performed well at the box office but did not perform well with critics and audiences. These include: Transformers: The Last Knight, Fifty Shades Darker, The Fate of the Furious and Despicable Me 3.

So is there a correlation between audience and critic ratings?

One interesting outcome of the data analysis shows that there is a strong correlation between the critic score (Metacritic) and the audience ratings (IMDb), with a PMCC value of 0.7 and an r-square value of 0.5. Furthermore, the higher grossing the film the lower the difference between the two sets of values.

So what about the highest grossing films?

Well, if we take the movies that grossed +200m World Wide we can see there there more of a positive correlation (PMCC, +0.2). Is it that the critic scores are affecting the box office of the higher-end movies? Well, as you guessed – let’s take a look at what the data suggests.

As you can see, click the image if you can’t, there’s a strong correlation between the Metaciritc and IMDb of +0.7 and R-Square value of 0.47. Further to this, the stronger the hit at the box office (+200m, 2017) the stronger the relationship (PMCC +0.9). So, what is this telling us? Well, this makes it difficult to isolate whether or not the critical responses are having an impact at the box office, why? Because it seems that the audiences have similar views.

Overall, the audience and critic scores are positive for Hollywood this year. However, as this article shows audiences are becoming increasingly adept at forecasting how good a film is.

It is important to point out that whilst this article uses the box office (gross) as an indicator of how well a film has done, it is also important to state that there is a positive correlation between the number of screens in which the film was released and also the box office takings (PMCC +0.6 and R-Square +0.4).

PMCC and R-Square Scores:

PMCC Score, Total Gross to Opening
r-SQ, Total Gross to Opening
PMCC Score, Total Gross to Critic
R-SQ, Total Gross to Critic
PMCC Score, Total Gross to User
R-SQ, Total Gross to User
PMCC Score, Critic to User
R-SQ, Critic to User
PMCC Score, opening Gross to Critic
R-SQ, opening Gross to Critic
PMCC Score, opening Gross to User
R-SQ, opening Gross to User


There are some limitations to the research within this article.

  • Selection bias – It is important to note that only certain users vote online, the views of all of the audiences who watch a particular film is not captured. Some critics (Metacritic) have a weighted score. Furthermore, some of the lower grossing films had a lower number of critical repsonses.
  • The year hasn’t ended yet – we still have a large number of film releases for the remaining 6 weeks of 2017 including Justice League and Star Wars.


Please follow and like us:
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categorised in: Uncategorised

This post was written by noxford

Comments are closed here.