Critics criticised for film failures

Johnny Depp and Ashton Kutcher get angry.

by Jennie Kermode

Johnny Depp has spoken out this week about the poor box office returns for The Lone Ranger, blaming critics for its lack of success and accusing them of hating it before they even saw it. Meanwhile, Ashton Kutcher has complained that he has been attacked for his potrayal of Apple guru Steve Jobs even in the early stages of production, being told that his costume is wrong.

Can critics make or break a film? Several pieces of research have shown a strong correlation between ratings on meta-review sites like Rotten Tomatoes and the box office success of major releases, but it's difficult to say if this is because critics influence the public's attitude to films or if it's simply that better films are more successful. One interesting piece of research by Alec Kennedy shows that reviews have a stronger correlation with a film's staying power than with its initial box office success, probably because early reviews struggle to be noticed past marketing hype. As The Lone Ranger has only been out for two weeks in the US (it opens in the UK on Friday) this suggests that it's too early for the impact of reviews to be measured.

According to Disney, The Lone Ranger is expected to lose between £104M and £124M. Most major films rely on their opening weekend to make most of their money, though things can work differently for smaller, more unusual films with staying power. These days, success in the Chinese market is a key factor, with the success of Pacific Rim there virtually guaranteeing that film a sequel. The Lone Ranger, however, has yet to secure a Chinese release date.

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