Wrapping up the critically based criteria, we now come to Part Two of Stat-tastic 2012; IMDb Ratings. Once again, in case any of you are somehow not familiar with the most amazing resource for cinematic information on the World Wide Web, here are some of the basics of how the International Movie Database works.
IMDb is a database of everything related to movies, television, and more. Any movie or TV Show in existence has a profile on IMDb, along with a huge amount of data including box office returns, budgets, production companies involved, cast & crew, trivia, and most importantly, scores given out of 10 for each film. Unlike Rotten Tomatoes, IMDb ratings are open to anyone in the general public who cares to give their opinion of a film, meaning that a film’s IMDb score is more representative of the public’s view of a film than the critical world’s. Now, let’s get cracking.
The average rating of a film released in 2012 according to IMDb is 6.39, compared to the average Tomatometer Score of 52.8%. Ten movies currently hold a score of 8 or higher, seven of which are now included in the renowned IMDb Top 250. Those films are Django Unchained, The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Argo, Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Life of Pi. This is more or less in line with the past few years; six films made it onto the list in 2011, seven made it onto the list in 2010, and seven made it on in 2009. Here are the Top 10 films of the year according to IMDb, along with their scores.
The Dark Knight Rises – 8.7
Django Unchained – 8.6
The Avengers – 8.3
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – 8.3
Life of Pi – 8.2
The Perks of Being a Wallflower – 8.2
Argo – 8.1
Silver Linings Playbook – 8.1
Wreck-It Ralph – 8.1
Les Miserables – 8.0
Main Takeaways here: Only on IMDb will you find the likes of Django Unchained, The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises alongside films like Vertigo, Apocalypse Now, The Shining, and other similarly “unassailable” classics. Personally, I’m all for this; modern filmmaking is set below classic filmmaking far too often, and I firmly believe that movies like The Dark Knight or Return of the King deserve to go down in history just as much as Star Wars or The Godfather.
From a box office perspective, the average gross of those top 10 is just over $250 million, with each one making over $100 million with the exceptions of Argo ($95 million) and Perks of Being a Wallflower ($17 million). This goes to show that despite movies like the Transformers films making billions of dollars at the box office on a routine basis, it is still more than possible for good movies to produce great box office returns for their studios.
Of course, last year wasn’t all sunshine and roses. For every great film Hollywood put out, it matched it with a slew of absolute trash that can’t be forgotten soon enough. Twelve films scored below a 5 in 2012, but only one of those scored low enough to land itself on IMDb’s Bottom 100. In fact, it would actually land at #1 on the list if it hadn’t been for the fact that even though it was released on over 1,000 screens, NOBODY saw it. That film is The Oggieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure, the financial failings of which I will go into in my box office analysis segment of Stat-tastic. For now, let’s look at how it stacks up alongside the other turds of 2012.
The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure – 1.8
Madea’s Witness Protection - 3.9
The Devil Inside – 4.0
The Apparition – 4.0
Piranha 3DD – 4.0
Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds – 4.3
Paranormal Activity 4 – 4.4
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance – 4.4
The Cold Light of Day – 4.8
Alex Cross – 4.8
Fun Size – 4.8
Major Takeaways here? Tyler Perry can make a movie terrible whether he’s producing (Good Deeds), directing (Madea’s Witness Protection) or starring (Alex Cross). Other than that, there’s once again an abundance of horror here that is likely to repeat in 2013 if Texas Chainsaw 3D is any indication.
From a box office perspective, the average gross of these eleven films was just over $27 million, meaning that the opposite of the evaluation above is also true; crappy movies don’t generally end up making very much money. That being said, “not much money” was still perfectly fine for these films; Together they only reached an average budget per film of $18.8 million, with The Devil Inside and Paranormal Activity 4 making it into the Top 10 returns on investment for the entire year.
As a final note, while IMDb ratings usually hover closer to 6/10 while Rotten Tomatoes scores cover a much wider range, IMDb scores are almost always more generous than Rotten Tomatoes scores because of their being given by the generally more forgiving general public. Because of that, it is fairly common for a “Rotten” movie to receive a positive score from IMDb. Here are the 10 highest scoring “Rotten” films of 2012, with both their IMDb Ratings and their Rotten Tomatoes Scores
Hotel Transylvania (43%) – 7.1
People Like Us (56%) – 7.1
American Reunion (44%) – 6.9
The Words (22%) – 6.8
Safe House (53%) – 6.8
The Vow (29%) – 6.7
Trouble With the Curve (51%) – 6.7
John Carter (51%) – 6.7
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (55%) – 6.7
The Bourne Legacy (56%) – 6.7
Much more rare, however, is a case when a “Fresh” movie receives a poor score on IMDb, i.e. below 6.0. Only two films fit into this category this year, both of which were admired by critics but spurned by general audiences when it came to the box office.
Katy Perry: Part of Me (77%) – 5.1
Haywire (80%) – 5.9
The Conclusion from all of this? A movie can be incredibly successful with critics, but if it doesn’t connect with audiences it simply isn’t going to make very much money. In this sense, IMDb serves as a much better indicator of a film’s financial success than Rotten Tomatoes. As much as it hurts to see Roger Ebert’s opinion get as much weight as Joe the Plumber’s, this is the way the industry (and the world) works, so it falls to people like Joss Whedon, Christopher Nolan and Steven Spielberg to make films that satisfy both camps.