Will I "Really Like" this Movie?

Navigating Movie Website Ratings to Select More Enjoyable Movies

To Every Movie, There is a Season

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines season as a division of the year marked by changes in weather, ecology, and hours of daylight. There are movie seasons as well. While movie seasons are somewhat related to the traditional seasons, movie seasons are marked by school vacations, holidays, and the timing of the Academy Awards.

Dump Season 1.

To qualify for an Academy Award nomination for a given year, a movie must be shown in a Los Angeles County theater for at least seven consecutive days before the end of the calendar year. Any movie with an expectation of critical success meets this deadline to be eligible for award consideration. The movies that are released in January and February typically are those movies that are contractually obligated to be released but aren’t award worthy. They are dumped in these two months because fewer people go to the movies during this period.

Blockbuster Season.

From March through July, as Spring arrives and moves into Summer, the box office heats up. School vacations, Memorial Day, and Independence Day draw families and young moviegoers to the theaters. Big budget blockbusters and family friendly movies are targeted for these months.

Dump Season 2.

In August and September as tuition bills come due and kids go back to school, there is a box office lull in the movie calendar. This season is reserved for second tier blockbusters and “close but not quite” Oscar wannebes. It is sort of like a dump season lite. These aren’t terrible movies. They’re just not good enough for Blockbuster or Oscar season.

Oscar Season.

This season is for those movies with award pedigree. This is the season that adults go to the movies without their kids. The exception to this is for movies released around Thanksgiving and some of the movies released around Christmas. Reliable franchise movies, like the Hunger Games or Harry Potter franchises, release movies targeted at families around these holidays..

This is the conventional wisdom. Does the data support it?  In a later post I’ll incorporate Box Office data into a deeper look at the movie calendar. For now I’m focusing on movie quality indicators. From my database, I looked at three data points, IMDB Avg. Score for voters 45+ in age, Rotten Tomatoes Certified Fresh, and movies I “really liked”.

Release Months Industry Conventional Wisdom # of Movies Avg. IMDB Age 45+ % Certified Fresh %  I “Really Liked”
Jan-Feb Dump Months 1 153 7.2 30.1% 45.1%
Mar-Jul Blockbuster Months 726 7.3 44.8% 46.3%
Aug-Sep Dump Months 2 323 7.2 43.3% 44.9%
Oct-Dec Oscar Bait Months 772 7.4 49.7% 55.2%

The data generally supports the conventional wisdom. The two dump season periods are very similar with the second dump period enjoying better critical success than the first. This reflects the not quite Oscar worthy nature of the movies in the second dump season. Blockbuster season movies carry higher ratings than the dump months periods in all of the indicators. And, as you might expect, Oscar season ratings are the highest and are consistent with critically successful movie releases.

If you want to find movies that you will “really like” pay attention to the movie season it is released in. We all have our favorite season, even for movies.


I’ve made a change in my movies available to watch this week list. Because of slim pickings in the movies available, I’ve decided not to watch movies I haven’t seen that have less than a 50% probability that I will like them. The movies included on the list this week with less than 50% are movies that I watched over 15 years ago that I want to see again.



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