Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice had a huge opening weekend, breaking box office records on its way to becoming the biggest March release ever, before falling off a cliff in its second weekend, with grosses down 69 percent.
While some fans think that reviewers and critics hate popular entertainment like Batman v Superman as a rule, it turns out the tastes of the critics and the people align more often than one would think. In fact, critical reception can often predict whether a big movie will be a blockbuster or a flop.
The review aggregator Metacritic compared movie scores against box office receipts for all major nationwide releases in the past decade, and found that good movies make more money over time than bad ones. Metacritic ranks movies by Metascore, which assigns a numerical value from 0 to 100 to a movie that represents the aggregate critical consensus of professional critics. Batman v Superman, for example, has a score of 44. Metacritic found that while poorly reviewed movies tend to open smaller than well-reviewed ones, the gap becomes more pronounced in a movie's second week, when ticket sales for movies with low scores tend to have sharper declines than movies with high scores. Movies with bad reviews (a Metascore of 0-19) tended to decline by 52.5 percent from first weekend to second weekend, while movies with great reviews (91-100) only decline by 37.7 percent.
This indicates that while reviews don't necessarily influence a movie's box office performance, they do predict how a movie will do over time. Critics are word-of-mouth with a bigger platform. When it comes to the Batman v Supermans of the film world, they're just saying what most people are thinking.
Check out Metacritic's data on second weekend-decline versus Metascore (top) and total box office versus Metascore (bottom).
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com and Metacritic are both owned by CBS.)