Movie Math: Best Rated Movie Month (So Far)
Gravity, Captain Phillips, The Counselor. Three movies I was counting down the days to watch…all of which happen to be releasing in the same month. With Gravity’s universal critical acclaim, October is off to a good start. It got me thinking: which month has been the best…according to critics? This was also an opportunity to see if it’s true that January and February generally have lower quality movies (spoiler alert: it’s true).
Unfortunately, due to time I decided to narrow this down to the best month for wide releases. While I have loved limited releases such as Before Midnight, The Spectacular Now, Mud, Europa Report, and The Place Beyond the Pines, I couldn’t fathom taking every single release into account.
Therefore, below you will find every wide release from January 1st to September 30th (sorry October). You will also find its Rotten Tomatoes aggregated percentage. While I don’t think Rotten Tomatoes is the end-all be-all measurement for critical success, it’s good enough for this analysis.
So first…here are the results (complete with raw data, rankings, and a spiffy line graph):
In total, there were 91 films (I made a decision to exclude Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain, InAPPropriate Comedy, and One Direction: This is Us). The total average score was (hold onto your butts): 44.19%. That means for every 100 critics that saw a wide release, 44 of them (plus an arm or two) positively reviewed it. Ouch.
The months with the most releases belonged to March and August (both with 14) and April has the least (6).
According to Rotten Tomatoes, the Top 5 movies are:
1) The World’s End (89%) – August
2) Rush (88%) – September
3) Star Trek Into Darkness (87%) – May
4) The Conjuring (86%) – July
5) This is the End (84%) – June
For fun, the Bottom 5 movies are:
1) Getaway (3%) – August
2a) Movie 43 (4%) – January
2b) Paranoia (4%) – August
2c) Scary Movie 5 (4%) – April
5) Battle of the Year (5%) – September
If we were to rank the months in order, they’d go as follows:
And if you are visual person, here’s the year (up to October):
I know what you’re thinking. How much do the bad movies bring down the average? I decided to test it by giving each month a “mulligan.” I deleted the worst movie and ran the numbers again. Here are the results (in the same order):
The casualties (in chronological order) were Movie 43, Safe Haven, The Host, Scary Movie 5, After Earth, The Internship, Grown Ups 2, Getaway, and Battle of the Year. Obviously, all of the averages increased (the new total average was 47.91%). But how did it change the overall standings?
Without a side-by-side comparison, it’s tough to tell, but September actually leapfrogged May to overtake second place. Also, April moved up to 5th place. Overall, the results didn’t change a whole lot.
Here’s a line graph to show the new results (again, it’s basically the first one, but a little bit higher on the graph).
If we had to crown a winner, it’d definitely go to June.
Looking at the graph, it’s not a surprise to see January start us off the slowest. Studios usually reserve the “worst” movies for the beginning of the year. However, starting with The Hunger Games last year, March has become a decent landing spot for movies. For instance, next year will see the release of 300: Rise of an Empire, Grace of Monaco, Need for Speed, Divergent, Muppets Most Wanted, Noah, and Hercules. Those aren’t exactly laughers. This year, though, March saw a dip compared to February.
For the next three months, it was all increases. Movies like 42, Star Trek Into Darkness, This is the End, and Monsters University helped the most.
July and August – which I personally thought were pretty good months – saw us return to reality. While there were successes (Despicable Me 2, Pacific Rim, The Conjuring, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, The World’s End, and You’re Next), movies like Grown Ups 2, R.I.P.D., The Smurfs 2, Paranoia, and Getaway sabotaged the numbers.
September has turned things around, though. Riddick was a decent way to begin the month, but back-to-back releases of Prisoners and Rush, mixed with Don Jon’s score at the end of the month, made September my favorite when I started running the data. Even if it’s not the best month according to the numbers, it looks like we’re back on the upswing.
October could blow this out of the water. It’s fitting that with Gravity’s (currently at 98% on Rotten Tomatoes) release came Runner Runner (which is sitting at a laughable 8%), but Captain Phillips, The Fifth Estate, and The Counselor could prove to be the winners we deserve.
From here on out, I hope the year continues to trend up. History and conventional thinking would point this way. However, conventional thinking would also say better movies should make it to theaters. That 44.19% number says otherwise.
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