It’s been a tough summer for blockbusters.
Week after week, franchise films have been skewered by the critics, leaving a wake of splattered tomatoes and pun-filled critical barbs in their online wake.
This weekend, however, seems to be shaping up as the one studios got right, at least according to the critical establishment. It’s the first time in seemingly forever that all the major wide releases have registered as “fresh” on the review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.
Paramount’s “Florence Foster Jenkins,” pairing Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant, leads the pack with 89%, while Sony’s raunchy animated comedy “Sausage Party” and the Disney remake “Pete’s Dragon” are hovering around 85%. Likewise, the limited releases “Hell or High Water” and “Blood Father” are posting scores above 90%, although fewer critics have reviewed the films.
It’s a big turnaround from last weekend, when Warner Bros’ supervillain extravaganza “Suicide Squad” was handed a low 27% rating, and the family film “Nine Lives” clawed its way to a catastrophic 7%.
A week earlier, “Bad Moms” just barely made the “fresh” cut, with 63%, while “Jason Bourne” and “Nerve” fell short with 57% each.
Overall, the season has seen a litany of studio tentpoles with “rotten” scores. In addition to “Suicide” and “Nine Lives,” we’ve had “Ice Age: Collision Course” (11%), “Warcraft” (28%), “Independence Day: Resurgence” (32%), “The Legend of Tarzan” (35%), “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” (38%) and “Now You See Me 2” (34%).
To be sure, numerous films this summer have excelled on the Tomatometer, but they’re primarily smaller titles such as “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” and “Don’t Think Twice,” which both stand at 99% “fresh.”
Very few would-be blockbusters have been so lucky. A handful — “Finding Dory,” “The Conjuring 2” and “Star Trek Beyond” among them — settled above 80% (only 60% is needed for a “fresh” designation), but most have been roundly drubbed by film reviewers.
Others, like “The BFG,” “Central Intelligence” and “Ghostbusters” fared nearly as well — in the 70% range — but were hardly critical darlings.
So, what’s different this weekend? Did studios decide to hold some of their best films for August? Or are film reviewers losing patience with sequels, superheroes and other emblems of the summer moviegoing season? After all, “Florence” and “Sausage” are hardly typical big summer releases. “Pete’s Dragon” is a remake, although it’s following in the footsteps of the critical smash “The Jungle Book,” which topped out at a whopping 95%.
Maybe critics just love dragons, hot dogs and Meryl Streep. If a studio can figure out a way to combine all three into a film, it could break the Internet, or at least Rotten Tomatoes.