Cinemascore Is For Opening Weekend, but Beware of Grade Inflation
We have just endured another Presidential Primary season where every tea leaf was micro-analyzed and every phrase parsed to death. One of the primary tools of the political pundits is the exit poll. In key districts across the primary State, pollsters await voters as they exit the polling place to determine who the voters were pinning their hopes on to lead the free world at that very moment and why. The exit poll fills our insatiable desire for instant feedback for what we’re collectively thinking.
The movie industry has its own version of the exit poll, Cinemascore. In the pre-IMDB days of 1978, the movie industry had the same concerns with critics that they have with Rotten Tomatoes today. The industry felt critics had too much influence with the viewing public. Cinemascore filled this perceived need to balance the sway of critics by measuring the opening night reaction to a movie from moviegoers who were walking out of the theater. Like political exit polls, the theaters polled in the survey were specifically selected to provide a cross section, regionally and demographically, of the viewing public in the U.S. and Canada. Participants in the survey answer six questions about the movie they’ve just watched including the assignment of a grade from A to F.
By going to the website linked above you can view the average grade from the surveys given to recent major movie releases. You can also type in a movie title released after 1978 to see that movie’s average grade. With a paid subscription you can enter the website and presumably access results from the other five questions surveyed. Not all movies are surveyed, only those considered major releases.
How useful are these grades? Well, if you absolutely can’t wait to see a movie, but you can hold off until Saturday night, they can be quite useful. The survey sample is representative of moviegoers like you. I would expect that most attendees of an opening night movie have a high degree of interest in the movie, just like you. On the other hand, if your decision to attend an opening weekend movie is more casually made, Cinemascore could be deceiving.
The 24 recent movie releases currently displayed on the Cinemascore Home Page are ranked below by grade with the accompanying IMDB rating results:
|Recent Movie Results|
|Movie||Cinemascore||# IMDB Votes||IMDB Avg. Rating|
|ME BEFORE YOU||A||6,217||7.9|
|CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR||A||229,127||8.3|
|GOD’S NOT DEAD 2||A||3,809||3.3|
|JUNGLE BOOK, THE||A||84,945||7.8|
|TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS||A-||8,013||6.5|
|ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS||A-||12,479||6.4|
|CONJURING 2, THE||A-||7,238||8.4|
|NOW YOU SEE ME 2||A-||3,696||7.2|
|BARBERSHOP: THE NEXT CUT||A-||2,099||6.1|
|MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2||A-||8,083||6.2|
|ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE, THE||B+||13,128||6.4|
|HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR, THE||B+||23,522||6.2|
|BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE||B||299,641||7.0|
|NEIGHBORS 2: SORORITY RISING||B||16,437||6.1|
|POPSTAR: NEVER STOP NEVER STOPPING||B||2,815||7.4|
|RATCHET AND CLANK||B||1,778||6.1|
|NICE GUYS, THE||B-||23,900||7.8|
If an IMDB rating of 7.3 or higher is considered an above average rating, then only a Cinemascore of A is solidly reinforced by the IMDB average ratings. Of the 7 movies receiving an A- grade only X-Men: Apocalypse and The Conjuring 2 were considered above average by IMDB voters. A Cinemascore of A- may not translate favorably when the more general audience begins to view the film. If on the other hand, you are really into Christian movies and you were really looking forward to God’s Not Dead 2, Cinemascore is going to be a better indicator of the quality of the movie than IMDB, whose voters may not be representative of your taste in movies.
Cinemascore was created before we had sites like IMDB. It still has its use for “must see” opening weekend moviegoers and movies for unique tastes. Once you get past opening weekend, however, IMDB is probably a better tool for word of mouth feedback.
I’ve entered my final estimate for Finding Dory this morning. The early indicators are that this will be a critical and box office success. I’ve forecasted it will be a “really like” of 85%.