Critics Love 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi', But Audiences Are Split

While there has been a continued over-analysis of Rotten Tomatoes and its impact on box offices, mainly because studios need a scapegoat for their own failures, I've maintained one position on the whole thing: Rotten Tomatoes scores don't mean shit.  We put too much emphasis on critic scores when audience scores are just as important, and there are too many hit movies with low scores to draw any kind of correlation. All of this is a long-winded way of getting around to the news that audiences don't seem to be digging Star Wars: The Last Jedi all that much.

Rian Johnson's film has been universally praised by critics, who as of this morning have it at 93% Rotten Tomatoes score. My own score factors into that, as well.  But audiences have it at only 56% approval, which is actually considered "Rotten" and much lower than The Force Awakens (88%) and Rogue One (87%).  So what does it all mean?

I think we need to get a little bit of distance before that question can be answered. If this leads to bad word of mouth that blunts its box office, then we'll know the audience reaction was legit and had an impact. That could have far-reaching ramifications, especially for Johnson's upcoming trilogy. Expectations might have been too high (the constant comparisons to The Empire Strikes Back couldn't have helped), or fans just didn't dig what Johnson did with the characters.  I seriously hope it isn't the latter. 

It's worth noting that most of the time the reaction is flipped. Critics will rip apart a blockbuster film while audiences tend to be more lenient. Case in point: Justice League, which audiences have at 80% while critics have it at 40%. How'd the box office do for that one? Not particularly well.

We'll see how things go when the first weekend numbers come through, but my gut tells me this will have no long-term impact.