Metacritic's First Annual Movie Studio Report Card

  • Publish Date: January 27, 2010
  • Comments: ↓ 14 user comments


Summary of 2009 Films
Metascore Breakdown
Good / So-So / Bad:
Quality: Performance:
D+ D

Universal's best-reviewed movie of the year was Sam Raimi's low-budget horror hit Drag Me to Hell, which seems to be an appropriate title to summarize the studio's year. Across the board, Universal finished in the depths of the box office standings, placing last among the major studios in virtually every conceivable category.

The studio's 8.2% domestic market share in 2009 marked the first time that one of the major studios fell below 10% since Universal did so in 2006. And you'll have to go back to 2002 to find the last time that a major studio's total domestic gross (adjusting for inflation) was as low as Universal's $867 million take in 2009.

Universal had just two films surpass the $100 million mark last year: the Fast and Furious sequel Fast and Furious, and the critically-despised comedy Couples Retreat. Although Universal had good intentions -- exhibited by what on paper appears to be a solid roster of talent -- their release schedule is littered with commercial and critical disappointments, from Tony Gilroy's underperforming thriller Duplicity to Michael Mann's underperforming gangster film Public Enemies, to Judd Apatow's underperforming dramedy Funny People to Sacha Baron Cohen's underperforming mockumentary Bruno, to -- well, you get the idea. (All that, and we didn't even mention Will Ferrell's $100 million failure Land of the Lost.)

Last fall's management shakeup and the pending Comcast takeover of NBC Universal could mean that a turnaround is in the works, though a 2010 release slate that includes a potential bomb like MacGruber for every potential hit like Robin Hood may pose a problem.

2009 Film Quality Overview - Universal
Total Releases # Great # Awful Avg. Metascore Avg. User Score
15 1 0 49.3 6.0
Low - Median - High: 23 - 45 - 83 Score Distribution: 23,33.5,45,62,83

In the Score Distribution chart, half of all scores (from the 25th percentile to the 75th percentile) fall within the shaded box, with the vertical line in the middle of the box representing the median. The Metascore is a weighted average of scores from top professional critics, on a scale from 0 (bad) to 100 (good). The User Score is an average of scores submitted by Metacritic users, on a scale from 0 (bad) to 10 (good).

2009 Performance Overview - Universal
Category Total (in Millions) Rank Market Share
Domestic Gross $867 6th 8.2%
Foreign Gross $1,200 6th 11%
Per-Film Average Gross $58.6 6th  
# of Hits (Domestic Gross > $100M) 2 films 6th  

Per-Film Average is the average domestic gross of all films released during 2009, and includes receipts through January 25, 2010 for films still in theaters. Rank indicates the studio's ranking among the six major studios. Sources: Box Office Mojo, The Hollywood Reporter, and Metacritic staff research.

2009 Releases for Universal
Film Studio Domestic Gross* Metascore User Score
Drag Me to HellUniversal$42,100,625836.1
Public EnemiesUniversal$97,104,620706.3
State of PlayUniversal$37,017,955647.4
Funny PeopleUniversal$51,855,045606.5
It's ComplicatedUniversal$98,270,085576.5
Fast and FuriousUniversal$155,064,265456.8
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's AssistantUniversal$13,869,515436.6
The Last House on the Left [2009]Universal$32,752,215425.6
The Fourth KindUniversal$25,486,040346.3
Love HappensUniversal$22,965,110335.3
Land of the LostUniversal$49,438,370324.8
The Unborn [2009]Universal$42,670,410305.0
Couples RetreatUniversal$109,065,605235.6

* Domestic Gross includes box office receipts through January 25, 2010 for films still in theaters. The Metascore is a weighted average of scores from top professional critics, on a scale from 0 (bad) to 100 (good). The User Score is an average of scores submitted by Metacritic users, on a scale from 0 (bad) to 10 (good). Source for grosses: Box Office Mojo.

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Comments (14)

  • This Week’s Mo  

    [...] a related note, Metacritic recently released its first annual report card on the major studios’ revenues for 2009, and Universal finished dead last. How terribly [...]

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    [...] Movie Studio Report Card You're the gossip: [...]

  • djkparry  

    why is there no mention of Inglourious Basterds?

  • Lucas  

    Very interesting indeed. The only variable missing is the cost of each movie and a revenue/costs ratio.

  • Evan B.  

    Metacritic keeps getting better every day I come back to this website! Keep up the great articles, Metacritic!

  • John Busey  

    Go Zeitgeist! IV: I don't understand what your problem is. If the general public is rewarding the box office why can't critics, whose job it is to watch films all day long, reward what they like? Isn't that fair? I mean, if everyone liked the same thing you would be bored with that too. I think it's nice that critics and moviegoers are at odds. Keeps things interesting.

  • nathan  

    this is great! thank you for doing this..I've often thought this was an interesting topic to cover, just never thought anyone actually covered it this well. Great Job!

  • Collin  

    Regarding your assessment of Dr. Parnassus, I don't necessarily think it's the audiences fault that the film has failed to garner a substantial amount of money. It's the studio's promotion of the film. I haven't seen one advertisement on television, nor have I barely heard anything at all about it's release in the last few months. I know it's definitely an independent film, but the studio still could have (somewhat shamelessly) promoted more widely the fact that this was Ledger's last film, given it a wider release (it's had very limited showings in Sacramento), and then most certainly recoup the movie's budget domestically.

  • christi  

    Fantastic stuff! Well done!

  • IV  

    Yes, Metacritic's report LOOKS nice. However, it's FLAWED. Why? Check out the critics' scores under films, The Blind Side, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, etc. Moviegoers are the BEST CRITICS, not film critics. Until Metacritic develops a model that incorporates general audience reviews, their annual Studio Report Card will not mean much. Furthermore, how can non-major studios like Zeitgeist, Sony Classics get such high remarks and be taken seriously when their films DID NOT attract a wider audience. Previews and word-of-mouth are the top factors that draw moviegoers to the box office. So, it stands to reason that if a film released by non-majors are marketed to a niche "art house" audience. An audience that film critics tend to favor and identify with. Most film critics DO NOT identify with frequent moviegoers and vice versa. There are too many movies to count that critics panned but moviegoers LOVED repeatedly (and rewarded those films at the Box Office). And not talking about Transformers 2

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