After what feels like an eternity of waiting, Star Wars: The Last Jedi has finally reached cinemas, scoring a whopping $450 million opening weekend worldwide.
While reviews have been unanimously positive for Rian Johnson’s blockbuster, there’s been huge backlash online, many fans expressing disappointment.
There’s no better place to see the great divide between critics and fans than on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critical consensus scores 93% while audiences score The Last Jedi 56%.
That difference of 37% marks an anomaly on the website, the audience score being the lowest of all Star Wars movies, meaning The Last Jedi is apparently worse than Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith. Conversely, critics say The Last Jedi equals A New Hope and The Force Awakens, only falling behind The Empire Strikes Back.
But are audiences actually disliking The Last Jedi? One problem with Rotten Tomatoes’ audience score, along with IMDB, is there’s no vetting process. People don’t need to prove they’ve seen a movie and can vote multiple times through multiple accounts.
Instead, we should look to the movie’s CinemaScore, an America-based exit poll system that scientifically works out an audience score. Movies are marked between A+ and F, the score often accurately hinting at how much a movie will make at the box-office.
The Force Awakens earned an A score, with 90% of all respondents being positive, the average score being 4.5, while Rogue One earned an A, 91% positive feedback and the same score. By comparison, The Last Jedi also won an A CinemaScore, 89% positive feedback, and a five-out-of-five score.
With those statistics being so positive, how can the negative online reaction be explained? According to Deadline, non-Disney sources are saying the backlash has been primarily online “trolling”. The publication also points to one Facebook page titled “Down With Disney’s Treatment of Franchises and Fanboys” who are claiming to use bot accounts to target the film’s score.
There is, of course, some genuine debate over the movie’s quality to be had. Some people are frustrated by Luke Skywalker’s portrayal, others disliked the Finn/Rose side-story. According to the scientifically accumulated statistics, though, audiences really are enjoying The Last Jedi.
Offering a statement on the backlash, Disney has said: “Rian Johnson, the cast, and the Lucasfilm team have delivered an experience that is totally Star Wars yet at the same time fresh, unexpected and new.
“That makes this a Star Wars film like audiences have never seen – it’s got people talking, puzzling over its mysteries, and it’s a lot to take in, and we see that as all positive, that should help set the film up for great word-of-mouth and repeat viewing as we enter the lucrative holiday period.”
The Last Jedi’s in cinemas now.