There is a clear disconnect between movie critics and the audience today and it has never been more clear than this year. Whether it's a debate about how bloggers and critics favor Marvel movies and are being paid by Disney to critically destroy DC films, or if they are in the pocket of studios to support any reboot of a classic movie that's ever existed no matter what, it's a tough time to be a movie critic right now.
Mind you, I don't feel sorry for them. Well, I feel sorry for the ones that still conduct themselves professionally.
There's been a lot of venom tossed at certain blockbuster movies this year by bloggers and critics and it seems to be a worsening pattern that been a few years in the making and is only seeing critics double down on their "hatred" of these movies. Conversely, there have been a few times when literally the audience has risen up and rebelled against the movie critics with their most powerful weapon of all: their wallet.
This is most evident with what we are seeing now with Suicide Squad and the Ghostbusters reboot, two movies that couldn't be more different in many ways and yet are the prime example of how critics can be rendered powerless by the strength of the audience.
Before the Ghostbusters reboot even released a trailer, there was backlash from the fans, either from those who are tired of the "political correctness movement" and didn't want to see an all-female cast, or those who didn't want to see a beloved classic film get remade in the first place. Then the first trailer came out and made history as the most down-voted, unpopular movie trailer in YouTube history. The audience had made it largely clear that this was NOT a movie they wanted to see.
So it only added fuel to the fire when the critics actually liked it and gave it a 73 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. People were beside themselves. How could a movie that represents so much the audience doesn't like be rated positively by the critics? What do they know?
In the end it didn't matter what the critics knew because largely no one has turned out to see the Ghostbusters reboot, with people still stating that they will never see it, and some who did see it expressing regret over the decision. To make only $180 million worldwide in almost a month even with that total being barely ahead of its reported $144 million production budget is just not a good number at all for a movie as highly marketed and publicized as that one was. It had minimal competition as well with only Star Trek Beyond, which was mired in a mediocre marketing campaign at best, and Jason Bourne coming out in the next two weeks after Ghostbusters' release.
Fast forward to now and we are seeing the same audience power being exercised in the opposite direction with Suicide Squad. After being lambasted critically even worse than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was back in March, the movie saw a huge box office turnout, smashing Guardians of the Galaxy's previous August opening weekend record by $39.4 million dollars. Now many analysts have attributed that to huge pre-sales and are predicting a big drop-off in the second weekend, but Suicide Squad has made a reported $280 million worldwide in four days, including $13.1 million on Monday night and the forecasts are projecting $45 to $48 million in the second weekend. That is still a huge 65% dropoff, but barring a miracle, it should be enough to stay in first place this weekend against movies like Pete's Dragon and Sausage Party.
So in the case of Suicide Squad, audiences have spoken out against the critics and supported a movie that they critically destroyed, just weeks after choosing not to support a movie that the critics largely applauded.
I'm sure if we went back and looked at the records and history of the box office we would certainly find other cases of the audience defiantly disagreeing with the critics on movie releases, but this one is poignant now because of the ongoing debate about movie critics and the damage or support that they can potentially give a movie. There's no doubt that critical acclaim can support a movie just as much critical panning can hurt one, but at the end of the day the audience is going to see what they want to see and not see what they don't want to see, which is a lesson that all of us should ultimately remember and take from this situation.
For the record, I have seen both movies and reviewed both of them here on The FliteCast and I like them both and don't regret having paid money to see either of them. The difference of course was that an advance showing of Ghostbusters featured my IMAX theater having barely more than 50 people in it including me, while Suicide Squad's advance showing in the exact same theater was almost completely sold out. Now we'll have to see what that second weekend holds and I'll pay attention when I go see it again, but for right now it is clear that audiences and critics are not on the same page as much as people might think.