erik lundegaard

Tuesday May 01, 2018

What's an A+ CinemaScore Worth?

One of my old freelance employers, MSN, finally uploaded something I wanted to read: a list of the “46 movies with A+ CinemaScore since 2000.”  

First, this is CinemaScore:

CinemaScore is the industry leader in measuring movie appeal among theatre audiences. Since 1978, CinemaScore has been polling moviegoers at major movie releases on opening night to collect demographic information and calculate a distinctive CinemaScore grade.

In other words, it tries to find out if the movie appeals to the people to whom it's supposed to appeal—the people who couldn't wait to see it; who had to see it opening night.

So what kind of movie appeals to the people to whom it's supposed to appeal? And appeals to them SO MUCH they give it an A+? Superhero movies? Horror films? Chick flicks? Actioners starring The Rock? 

Nope, nope, nope, and nope.

Turns out, they‘re movies starring and/or targeted toward audiences that feel marginalized by Hollywood. Two groups in particular: African Americans and conservative Christians. Their films make up 65% of the A+ scores. 

Of the 46 movies, 17 are about or star African-Americans:

  • Finding Forrester (2000)
  • Remember the Titans (2000)
  • Antwone Fisher (2002)
  • Drumline (2002)
  • Ray (2004)
  • Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005)
  • Akeelah and the Bee (2006)
  • Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married? (2007)
  • The Help (2011)
  • 42 (2013)
  • The Best Man (2013)
  • Woodlawn (2015)
  • Selma (2015)
  • Queen of Katwe (2016)
  • Hidden Figures (2016)
  • Girls Trip (2017)
  • Black Panther (2018)

And twelve are conservative Christian movies:

  • The Passion of the Christ (2004)
  • Dreamer (2005)
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
  • The Blind Side (2009)
  • Soul Surfer (2011)
  • Courageous (2011)
  • Dolphin Tale (2011)
  • Lone Survivor (2014)
  • American Sniper (2015)
  • Miracles from Heaven (2016)
  • Patriots Day (2016)
  • I Can Only Imagine (2018)

There's also one Mexican-American co-production:

  • Instructions Not Included (2013) 

So why are so many of the A+ scores from groups that see themselves at odds with the very entity (Hollywood) that creates the product? A few guesses. 

Many of the above movies have no other audience other than that group. Who went to see “Miracles from Heaven,” for example, except white Christians? Who went to see “Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married?” except black Christians? At opening night, there were no outsiders going, “What the fuck is this crap?” and screwing up its score. 

But that doesn't mean the targeted demographic will like the movies in question. So why did they? And so uncritically? 

A lot of it, I'd guess, comes down to this: If you‘re embattled, or feel embattled, you don’t disparage your side to the enemy. You circle the wagons. Most of these scores seem like wagon-circling to me. Or some kind of circling.  

As for the other 16 A+ movies? Eight are animated—Pixar, mostly:

  • Monsters, Inc. (2001)
  • Finding Nemo (2003)
  • The Incredibles (2004)
  • The Polar Express (2004)
  • Up (2009)
  • Tangled (2010)
  • Frozen (2013)
  • Coco (2017)

Then there's live-action movies that should be geared toward kids but which we all go see now: 

  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
  • The Lord of the Rings: Returns of the King (2003)
  • The Avengers (2012)

We also have inoffensive Oscar (or Oscar-y) movies:

  • Cinderella Man (2006)
  • The King's Speech (2010)
  • Argo (2012)

Finally, we have two recent from-the-heart curios:

  • Wonder (2017) 
  • Love, Simon (2018)

What's missing from CinemaScore's list of A+ movies from this century? With the exception of the Pixars, just the best movies from this century. But I kind of expected that going in. 

Posted at 06:55 AM on Tuesday May 01, 2018 in category Movies - Lists  
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