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CinemaScore is a market research firm based in Las Vegasmarker. It surveys film audiences to rate their viewing experiences with letter grades, reports the results, and forecasts box office receipts based on the data.

Background

CinemaScore was founded by Ed Mintz in 1982, and Mintz presided over the company for some time. CinemaScore conducts surveys to audiences who have seen a film in theaters, asking them to rate the film and specifying what drew them to the film. Its results are published in the magazine Entertainment Weekly. CinemaScore also conducts surveys to determine audience interest in renting films on video, breaking the demographic down by age and sex and passing along information to video companies like Fox Video Corporation.

CinemaScore pollster Dede Gilmore reported the trend in 1993, "Most movies get easily a B-plus. I think people come wanting the entertainment. They have high expectations. They're more lenient with their grades. But as (moviegoers) do it more and more, they get to be stronger critics." In 1993, films that were graded with an A included Scent of a Woman, A Few Good Men, and Falling Down. Films graded with a B included Sommersby and Untamed Heart. A C-grade film for the year was Body of Evidence.

A website was launched by CinemaScore in 1999, after three years' delay in which the president sought sponsorship from magazines and video companies. The website included a database of nearly 2,000 feature films and the audiences' reactions to them. Prior to the launch, CinemaScore results had been published in Las Vegas Review-Journal and Reno Gazette-Journal. CinemaScore's expansion to the Internet included a weekly email subscription for cinephiles to keep up with reports of audience reactions. The website has since become defunct.

In 1999, CinemaScore was rating approximately 140 films a year, including 98-99% of major studio releases. For each film, employees polled 400-500 moviegoers in three of CinemaScore's 15 sites, which included the cities Las Vegas, Los Angelesmarker, San Diegomarker, Denvermarker, Milwaukeemarker, St. Louismarker, Dallasmarker, Atlantamarker, Tampamarker, Phoenixmarker, and Coral Springsmarker.

Brad Peppard took over as president by 2002. In the summer of 2002, CinemaScore reported that the season had the biggest collective grade since 1995. In the summer of 2000, 25 out of 32 films received either an A or B grade. 26 of the summer of 2001's 30 films got similar grades, while 32 of the summer of 2002's 34 films got similar grades, the latter being the highest ratio in a decade.

Rating

CinemaScore representatives in "25 major cities" give opening-day audiences a small survey card. The card asks for age, gender, a grade for the film between A+ and F, whether they would rent or buy the film on DVD or Blu-Ray, and why they chose the film. The ratings are divided by gender and age groups (under 21, 21-34, 35 and up); film studios and other subscribers receive the data at about 11 pm Pacific Time. Although the data is proprietary, the letter grades quickly spread widely throughout the industry and via media.

As opening-night audiences are presumably more enthusiastic about a film than ordinary patrons, a C grade from them "is bad news". According to Mintz, "Movies don't rate lower than a C. A C is a failure. And it's so rare that a movie is an F. I mean, if it's an F, it shouldn't even be released." CinemaScore's forecasts for box-office receipts based on the surveys are "surprisingly accurate" as "most of [the company]'s picks . . . are in the ballpark", in 2009 correctly predicting the success of The Hangover and the failure of Land of the Lost.

References

  1. Goldstein, Patrick. " CinemaScore's box-office swami" Los Angeles Times, 13 October 2009.



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