'Exit Polling' Data Heats Up Transformers Critic Wars


It should probably be enough for critical pariah Michael Bay that his reviled Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen earned a staggering $201.2 million over its first five days of release. But the man will apparently stop at nothing to validate his taste, even if it means taking down his distributor's other summer blockbuster in the process.

Several pieces today address the specifics of what one journalist refers to as the "critic-audience divide," not-so-scientifically quantified by the relationship of opening-weekend gross to Rotten Tomatoes' review metrics. (Fallen is currently idling around 20% positive.) But Bay himself -- or at least someone in his circle -- latched on to harder numbers provided by the L.A. Times, which cited official studio data in the populist hero's defense:

Paramount's national exit polling revealed several notable facts. While the first Transformers film, released in 2007, skewed 60-40 toward men over women, the split in the new film was more even at 54% male, 46% female. More than 90% of those surveyed said the new movie was as good as or better than the first film. About 67% of moviegoers polled said the film was "excellent," an even better score than that generated by Paramount's Star Trek, one of the year's best-reviewed movies.

Right. Like you have to guess who sent the press such "notable facts" from inside Paramount -- the same studio, of course, which Bay infamously scolded via e-mail for neglecting Fallen while Star Trek took top marketing priority. Naturally the same LAT excerpt wound up posted this morning on Bay's own Web site, its last sentence bolded for emphasis like a middle finger to critics, Paramount and anyone else with the slightest lack of faith in him or his masterpiece.

Did I say this guy's mind never stops working? Maybe it's time to give it a rest.

· TF2 exit polls [MichaelBay.com]

· Does Transformers 2 set a new low for the critic-audience divide? [Risky Biz Blog]


  • JudgeFudge says:

    Sadly, I think that audience sincerely do like this movie, and probably do more than the first film. I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and basically here's what it boils down to:
    1. Audiences like to feel smart. In general when a movie like T2ROTF comes a long that is really dumb, audiences feel smart precisely because they understand that the movie is dumb. See Paul Blart for more proof of this rule in action. Also, audience hate being condescended too. For all its faults, Transformers does not do this.
    2. "The King's Table" rule. Even if a movie is serving a lot of crazy crap, audiences would prefer to have lots of it, an all you can eat buffet of CGI, action, and noise, than a small portion, of quality action and effects. More for your money. Excess. Getting your money's worth, even if its no good.

  • Juancho says:

    Never underestimate the propensity of the American public to be distracted by shiny expensive crap.

  • Furious D says:

    You made some pretty good points Judge Fudge.
    While I don't care for Michael Bay's movies, I do get a kick out of his persistent role as the bug up Hollywood's ass. I mean he loves goading the critics and film folks who hate him into hysteria.
    And it looks like it's a great strategy to follow at a time when the general audience feels alienated from Hollywood. Audiences view him as someone who delivers spectacle that might insult their intelligence, but won't be smug and condescending.

  • John M says:

    It's true. So many blockbusters lately have been smug and condescending.
    Wait, wha?
    And isn't insulting someone's intelligence a form of condescension?
    Another possible explanation: we're getting mighty dumb as a people.

  • Kittenhead says:

    It really doesn't matter how many hundreds of millions Transformers brings in--in the end, there's something horribly sad and empty when a filmmaker shrugs his shoulders and declares "Yeah, I made a total piece of shit--so what?"

  • Colander says:

    Maybe people are going to the movies drunk more often--I know I was considering it.

  • Dimo says:

    The only thing that would have made that movie enjoyable is a frontal lobotomy.

  • sweetbiscuit says:

    I thought it actually was a frontal lobotomy.

  • snickers says:

    It's like even though people can smell the shit, they still want to pay to see the turd.