Saturday, January 10, 2009

Rachel Getting Chilipunk'd

One possibility is that quite a few of you out there simply believe that the following two statements are equivalent:

I subjectively like "A"

"A" is objectively good

The problem may be that I take the subjectivist paradigm in economics fairly seriously. I agree it is possible that make objective statements of the form:

"If [Y] is your objective, then [A] is most likely, given the choices to lead to [Y], and so [A] is objectively optimal"

But if your subjective preferences are objectively correct, that obviously gives you a considerable advantage. A pity the rest of the world fails to recognize the superiority of your views over theirs.

An alternative criterion for judging "good" objectively might be to register the evaluations of many individuals, and to ensure that we enlist the power of independence, so that we have the central limit theorem working for us.

For example, a quick look at Rotten Tomatoes shows that 87% of all professional reviewers recorded positive, or highly positive, impressions of "Rachel Getting Married."

Among "Top critics," those most trusted in the industry to have objectively correct subjective opinions, fully 94% thought it good, or very good. These people didn't confer; they registered the opinion independently. So, the estimator "Percent Fresh" has at least some good properties as a measure of objective quality.

Of course, there is also the court of public opinion in a larger sense: box office. A movie I have heard nothing good about, and which no one person has told me they liked, is "The Day the Earth Stood Still." It has taken in $80 million. RGMarried has taken in $10 million, and may not do much more than that. So it seems plausible to argue that RGM is, in fact, not very good, in the sense of commercial success, because it is clearly NOT a commercial success. It's not a failure, I suppose, but if the studio (Sony Pictures) had known it was only going to make $10 million, I bet they would never have made the movie.

As for me, I have found that Rotten Tomatoes "Freshness %" is a really terrific estimator, in the sense that it predicts movies I will like quite well.

Last, if I believed that MY subjective preferences were objectively correct, then THIS would be universally acclaimed as the best movie ever made. ("I thought it was a costume ball!")

Is "Rachel Getting Married" a good movie? Most critics think yes. Far and away most people in the viewing public think "no," and are staying away in droves. I thougt it was quite good. Angus, Ms. Angus, and our commenter (who saw it at the Rialto, same theater where I saw it!) all thought it quite bad. (I do hope that Ginny's BF at least got lucky that night, for being so perceptive).


prison rodeo said...

RGM is currently in about 90 theaters around the country. It's maximum number was 391. Versus (e.g.) 3,500 for DTESS.

(Even if I wanted to see RGM, I'd have to drive roughly 3 hours to do so).

DTESS pulled about $8,500 per screen its opening weekend. RGM: $32,500.

Overall per-screen averages: RGM, $2,092; DTESS, $1,025.

Hardly "staying away in droves."

Also: RGM's production budget was $12 million; DTESS was $80 million. Both have grossed a bit less than these two totals thus far.

Moral: Mind thy denominators.

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