David Yates Knew Legend of Tarzan Would Get Fan Love; Can the Fan/Critic Divide Be an Asset?


I didn’t write about this at the time, but given what happened with Critics (34% Rotten) and Fans (74% Fresh, A-Cinemascore), I think it’s worth making a note of it. When David Yates was gracious enough to let me hang out with him for a while at the Legend of Tarzan Premiere after party, his big message was that he was sure of one thing and one thing only–fans would like the movie. “At the focus groups they always ask, first thing, did you like the movie? There are fifteen people there. Other movies, even Harry Potter — ten, eleven people raise their hands. With Tarzan — all fifteen, every time. It was amazing. All the way back to the early test screenings.”

As were there in the afterglow of the premiere, with Margot Robbie coming up to talk (to Yates, of course, not to me, but hey, I was there), I had too much on my mind to really focus on this.

But now,  given what’s happened . . . . I’m thinking that it was an interesting comment that goes to what happened.  Makes me wonder if maybe Yates didn’t feel as bad as I did when the critics went nuclear on it. Maybe he knew the fans would save him. Me . . . I wasn’t sure. A premiere is the last place to get a real feel for a how a film will do. It’s the friendliest audience imaginable — packed house, director and stars in attendance, it’s almost impossible to not feel buzzed unless the movie is a real stinker.

Now I’m thinking …. no, Yates actually knew something, but then if he knew it, WB should have known it too — and their actions don’t completely track with that. They supported it, but not in the way they would support something they were all-in on.

Can the Audience/Critic Chasm Be An Asset Going Forward?

Now that the first weekend is almost in the books — a question arises.  There is no doubt whatsoever that the avalanche of hostility from the critics was a major liability on Wednesday and Thursday as opening day unfolded.  A 33% Rotten is usually a kiss of death.  But then the disparity between the critics and audience started to manifest itself, and by Friday night we knew that there was the biggest gap in recent memory — 33% Rotten on the Critics side, 73% Fresh on the audience side — with A- Overall Cinemascore and A+ among under 20s.

Today, the Box Office articles are talking about Legend of Tarzan being an overachiever, and the chief reason cited is the A- Cinemascore.  Translation — Word of Mouth is helping.  Plus,  there is a notable secondary buzz about the critics/audience disparity.  What does it mean — particularly for a film like this, where it’s not a film that it in in any surface way “mindless” and thus a likely target for critics to become haters.

If I’m out there, not particularly motivated to see the movie — I might start wondering, what’s going on here.  Why the big disparity?

A Bold Prediction — $40M for Fri-Sun, and $48M For Fri-Mon

Write this down. You saw it here on Sunday morning.  Let’s see if I turn out to be right.

Right now the tally is $38.1M Friday-Sun, and $44M Friday-Monday.  This is based on Friday and Saturday actuals, and Sunday estimates.  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that come Tuesday, when the dust settles and we have actuals for all four days, Legend of Tarzan will reach $40M for Fri-Sun, and will reach $48M for Fri-Mon.  In other words, I’m predicting another 10% boost for Sunday and Monday based on the positive word of mouth, and the intriguing situation that is evolving with the disparity between critical and audience reaction.

Stay tuned and see if I’m right.