question of the day: What is the magic equation to gets people to go to the movies… or to stay away?

New Year's Eve Josh Duhamel

This past Sunday, once the box office estimates for North America started coming in and it was looking like New Year’s Eve was flopping, critic Erik Childress tweeted:

Though America made me look bad for thinking NEW YEAR”S EVE would gross more, I applaud them for avoiding such wretched junk.

As more numbers came out, we learned that the film had opened to only $13.7 million — the studio is rumored to have been expecting a $20 million opening — and that overall, this past weekend was the weakest in the U.S. and Canada since September 2008.

When I read Childress’s tweet, I thought, Well, it’s a nice sentiment, but I doubt this means mainstream audiences suddenly started paying attention to critics. I doubt it’s fair to say that audiences avoided wretched junk, because that would mean they were aware that it was wretched junk, at least as critics see it. If audiences were heeding critics, then, say, The Hangover Part II, which has a Freshness rating of only 35 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, would not have grossed more than $254 million in North America alone.
It may well be more fair to say that audiences were too busy with holiday preparations to go to the movies. Or audiences were too poor from holiday preparations to go to the movies. Or audiences saw TV ads and trailers for the film and failed to be sufficiently convinced by the studio that they had to run out and see it this weekend at the multiplex.

What is the magic equation to gets people to go to the movies… or to stay away?

Does it require everything — marketing, reviews, the audience’s personal availability and disposable income — to work well in tandem? Can one thing trump all else? How do you make such a moviegoing decision for yourself… and do you think most people behave the way you do regarding a filmgoing experience, or do you think you are atypical?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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