"If film critics could destroy a movie, Michael Bay and Adam Sandler would be working at Starbucks. If film critics could make a movie a hit, the Dardenne brothers would be courted by every studio in town."
Sometimes, a movie, book, game, or song is released and the critics hate it. They just hate it. Entire forests are destroyed printing scathing reviews that dissect such media down to the bone, showing in every possible way that the general public should stay away in droves. But, no matter how bad they are... no matter how many bad reviews they receive, the public loves it. The movie becomes a blockbuster. The book sits atop the New York Times best-seller list. The game flies off the shelves and becomes a must-have. The song is on everyone's iPod...
The reasons for this phenomenon are myriad and diverse. Critics are often not fans of the source material being adapted (if any), so they look upon things from a layman perspective. Some dislike the style and humor, preferring more "sophisticated" works. Sometimes the fans are so hardcore that they'd accept anything
from the source, and sometimes, it's made to be fun
. In fact, many who see/buy the work may not even think the best of it either, but it's familiar enough that it manages to stand out and market itself. Sometimes it's simply become popular through being So Bad, It's Good
, or by fans acknowledging the work's flaws but considering them insignificant.
When no critic in the world can affect a work's popularity, it is Critic Proof.
Compare Love It or Hate It
, Critical Backlash
, It's Not Supposed to Win Oscars
, Critical Dissonance
, and He Panned It, Now He Sucks
. Contrast with Acclaimed Flop
, Confirmation Bias
, Reviews Are The Gospel
and Guilty Pleasure
. Not to be confused with Protection from Editors
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Anime and Manga
- Haruhi Suzumiya:
- The much reviled Endless Eight episodes of the second season were released across 4 DVDs in Japan. Given that said arc basically consisted of the same episode eight times in a row, it's surprising that the first DVDs sold (relatively) well. Though the later ones to a lesser extent; the second and third sold only half the amount the first one did.
- On the other hand, the North American licensors of Season 2 knew very well that they would not be Critic Proof (plenty of fans had already vowed a boycott due to the extreme unpopularity of Endless Eight), and simply released all 14 episodes in a single set.
- SHUFFLE! got panned by review sites as just another annoying harem show, and even when it was first licensed, overwhelming opinion was that FUNimation must like losing money, because nobody would buy it. The DVD sales in North America were a surprising success, to the point that Funi produced a collector's box with the final volume.
- Pokémon. Despite not having any international theatrical releases since the Johto era, in Japan the twelfth film, Arceus and the Jewel of Life has become the highest grossing anime film of 2009. People complain about the anime itself. Although it has lost some popularity, it's still extremely popular.
- Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny is very popular among the Japanese audiences and even won the Anime Grand Prix award for Most Popular Anime in 2004 and 2005. Western reviewers liked the series but not as much as its prequel. However, if you ever ask this to a Gundam fan prepare to hear how this series is one of the worst things Sunrise ever created.
- Sword Art Online. Bloggers generally agree that it is anywhere from bad to mediocre, at best, but not a great show. It was the most popular anime of 2012. A second season premiered in summer 2014, retaining its popularity. In addition, other works from the Sword Art Online franchise began to make it overseas in that same year: a PS Vita game called Hollow Fragment got an English release around the same time, and Yen Press began to publish English translations of the light novels beginning April 2014.
- The anime of Diabolik Lovers flopped and was trashed by both Japanese and Western viewers, yet was popular enough for Sentai Filmworks to release an English dub.
- Eiken is widely considered one of the worst ecchi series of all time and has been bashed for its dumb plot/characters and ugly art. Both the manga and anime however allegedly sold very well, and fanart of the franchise is not uncommon.
- Big events and Crisis Crossovers in general. No matter how poor the reviews and fan reaction are, these tend to be the best-selling superhero comics of the entire year whenever they're released. When asked at a convention panel Marvel Comics keeps putting out massive crossovers despite fans saying they're sick of them, a rep from the company simply shrugged and said that they'll stop doing event crossovers when people stop buying them in droves.
- Brian Bendis and Mark Millar are two comic writers who've earned vocal Hatedoms among certain fans, and yet their mainstream work for Marvel almost always sells huge amounts. Despite all the hate and controversy it garnered, Bendis' New Avengers was one of the best-selling iterations of the Avengers franchise in years. Ditto for Millar's The Ultimates, which is hated by many fans and critics but was still one of the biggest sellers Marvel put out at the time.
- Geoff Johns is another example. A lot of his more recent work (save for Aquaman) has been critically panned, but it still usually sells huge numbers. His Justice League relaunch with Jim Lee is a good example; trashed by critics, and yet still one of the best-selling comics of the year.
- The Passion of the Christ got mixed reviews by critics, but became the biggest grossing R-rated movie of all time.
- Michael Bay films are like this.
- Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is currently the worst reviewed movie ever to earn 400+ million dollars at the domestic box office. And it actually made $800 million plus worldwide, the first movie of 2009 to do so (even beating at least one of The Dark Knight's records) so it will take some beating.
- Transformers: Dark of the Moon (which got better reviews than Revenge of the Fallen, but still quite negative none the less) grossed over a billion dollars worldwide and was the 5th highest grossing movie ever until 2013.
- Bad Boys 2, a movie Bay directed a full 4 years before Transformers, actually used all the same conventions. Critics hated it while the audience ate it up.
- The only entry in the Scary Movie series to get overall positive reviews was the first one. This didn't keep the others from making money, albeit not as much as the first.
- The same thing happened with the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. Especially for Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.
- Rambo: First Blood Part II was savaged by critics, but made triple its budget domestically and triple that internationally; Rambo III was only slightly better reviewed and didn't do so well domestically, but still did pretty well internationally. Both are now considered cult classics.
- One might as well say "NOOOOO BAD REVIEWS EVEEER!!" when talking about Mommie Dearest.
- The live-action Alvin and the Chipmunks movies (The Squeakquel in particular) have received nothing but hate from most critics. That hasn't stopped either from being huge successes.
- The Twilight films. Roger Ebert's reaction to New Moon, for example.
- Wild Wild West. Not just critic proof, but star proof as well. Even the film's star Will Smith and director Barry Sonnenfeld said they realized the movie was crap. It didn't stop it from making a ton of money.
- Many of Tyler Perry's movies, though not considered awful, are usually not liked by critics. However, his movies do extremely well with the African-American community.
- Critic James Berardinelli used the trope name regarding Alien vs. Predator.
- G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra: Mostly for being purposeful Ham and Cheese.
- Kevin Smith tried to invoke this with Jersey Girl by saying it "wasn't for critics". It didn't work so well. Then Penny Arcade tried to parody it by coming up with absurdist nonsense perpetrators Twisp and Catsby, and taunting all the critics who couldn't criticize them because it wasn't for them. This backfired on Penny Arcade as well, when Twisp and Catsby instead became insanely popular.
- The mostly negative critical reviews for The Hangover: Part II haven't stopped it from being hugely successful at the box office.
- All of Seltzer and Friedberg's movies have had overwhelmingly negative reviews, yet they still manage to more than make back their budget (except Disaster Movie). Epic Movie and Meet the Spartans both debuted at #1 at the box office on their opening weekends, and Vampires Suck debuted at #2. All of their movies also have fairly low budgets, so really, no matter how bad their movies get, there will be enough people going to see them to make back their budgets several times over.
- Moonraker was widely panned by critics, but it became the highest-grossing film in the James Bond franchise until Golden Eye was released.
- Batman & Robin. Immensely panned by critics and fans alike, but made over $100 million at the box office. It may be a Double-Subverted example, though, as the movie is still viewed widely as an embarrassment that killed Batman movies until The Dark Knight Saga.
- Street Fighter: The Movie. The scathing reviews it got from critics didn't stop it from becoming one of the highest-grossing movies of 1994.
- Surprisingly subverted with The Lone Ranger. For a Johnny Depp film you'd expect it to earn big bucks. It was savaged by critics, but the audiences didn't eat it up like they did for the Pirates movies. Jerry Bruckheimer and Johnny Depp blamed critics for "conspiring" against the film to make it bomb, which in turn led Duralde's response in the page quote.
- Cars 2 is Pixar's worst reviewed animated film (currently in the below 40% range at Rotten Tomatoes), but that hasn't stopped the film from making huge bucks at the box office (though it was Pixar's lowest-grossing movie at the box office). The Cars franchise managed to make a whopping ten billion dollars in merchandise, although they're still considered Pixar's weakest works.
- The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the worst-reviewed film in the entire Spider-Man franchise (even beating the polarizing Spider-Man 3), and yet it still managed to pull in over 700 million worldwide. This is a bit of subverted case, however, as it is currently the lowest grossing film in the franchise, at least as far as North America is concerned.
- The Phantom Menace is the highest-grossing film in the Star Wars franchise, unadjusted for inflation, despite polarized reception.
- It seems like nothing can dent the fanbase of the Alpha and Omega films - critics dismissed them as mediocre, general animation fans dismissed them as mediocre, and wide audiences dismissed them as mediocre. However, the fanbase of the films is composed mostly of very young children on one end of the age spectrum and wolfaboos and furries on the other end. Given the undiscerning taste of all three groups, it should probably come as little surprise that the series has four sequels.
- TV Guide had a review trashing a Goosebumps special. Kids watched it anyway.
- It's always like this when it comes to many of the kid-coms produced by Disney Channel, especially since the days of Hannah Montana and High School Musical (and in some cases, Lizzie McGuire). Their shows are always savaged by both critics and "traditionalist" Disney fans (in other words, fans of the live-action films made when Walt Disney himself was alive, most - if not all - of the Disney Animated Canon, classic Disney Characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, and the Disney theme parks), but that won't stop the network's target audience of tweens 8-14 from watching them anyway.
- Oz never got the kind of acclaim that other HBO shows like The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, and The Wire did. Nevertheless, it had (has) one of the staunchest fan bases and was one of the network's highest rated shows.
- True Blood has become increasingly derided in its later seasons but it doesn't seem to be doing a dent in the ratings.
- Critics were largely dismissive of Stargate Atlantis, regarding as a pale imitator of Stargate SG-1. Nevertheless, it was an excellent ratings performer for Sci-Fi Channel.
- My Family has been slaughtered by critics, and even the stars refused to film one episode because it was so bad. Yet it's one of the UK's highest rated sitcoms and has aired over ten series.
- Almost anything on the Belgian Television network VTM could qualify. Critics despise the network due to it being the first commercial Belgian network, which allows room for more commercial fare that critics just will absolutely hate (such as Wedden, dat...?, Walters Verjaardagsshow, Rad van Fortuin, Blind Date, Bompa, Nonkel Jef etc.) with only the rare TV show on it (such as Moeder, waarom leven wij?, Ons geluk and The Raf and Ronnie Show) being exempt from this fate and blame it for making society dumber due to the fact that they permanently give shows on there low ratings, but the network was so successful that Medialaan, the creator of that network, started publishing 4 more networks in Belgium in addition to that one.
- In music, just about any re-united band. A band that broke up 20 years ago and are now making a new album? It'll sell huge. Reunion tour? Sold out. No matter how poorly the members have aged, no matter how different their new music is, it'll all make a ton of money. Case in point: the Spice Girls' brief reunion. Even if it was only for a couple of months, it made seventy million dollars.
- Basically any group labeled as a Boy Band (even if the label wasn't really deserved at all) will receive critical scorn raining down upon them. Fans have generally been happily surprised when prominent musical websites have praised a boy band's work (even if it's grudgingly), examples being how Directioners have highlighted Allmusic.com's supportive reviews.
- For that matter, most artists known as playing 'teen pop' or 'teen idol' related music qualify.
- Rascal Flatts from the mid-2000s onward. Ever since Dann Huff became their producer, they've been widely criticized for many reasons: Huff's bombastic production; Gary LeVox's over-the-top, whiny, nasal singing voice; and unimpressive song choices. Such derision didn't stop them from continuing to land in the Top 10, sell lots of albums, win lots of awards, and overall be the top band in country music for several years running. It would seem that the band eventually learned their lesson in 2010, when their label (Disney-owned Lyric Street) closed, and they moved over to the indie label Big Machine Records. In an odd inversion, their two albums for Big Machine have garnered more favorable reviews, although sales have slumped, and their singles have had to fight much harder for their Top 10 positioning — except for 2013's "Changed", which, despite a minor crossover to the Christian charts, accounted for their lowest chart peaks to date. Also, Lady Antebellum and Zac Brown Band moved on to trump them commercially.
- Both Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath were dismissed by critics in their early years, which didn't stop them from becoming very popular anyway. Nowadays the critics are usually more appreciative, however.
- Grand Funk Railroad was largely savaged by critics and even found themselves at the butt of an urban legend, yet found significant commercial success even outside the Lowest Common Denominator. As Snopes put it:
And Grand Funk wasn't an act of the cute, well-groomed, sugary variety (like their contemporaries the Osmonds or the Bay City Rollers, or later entries such as the Spice Girls or the Backstreet Boys) who garnered huge followings by appealing to prepubescent girls or drooling adolescent males — their records were bought by, and their concerts attended by, "real" rock fans.
- Nickelback can be seen as the modern-day version of Grand Funk Railroad in this respect. They have been widely panned by critics and were once voted the worst band of all time; there exist countless YouTube videos devoted to picking apart how all their songs sound the same. It hasn't stopped them from selling more than 50 million albums worldwide. As Chad Kroeger once noted, "Yeah, everybody hates us. We suck. Sure. But you know, somebody out there is buying our albums anyway."
- A lot of late-1970s/early-1980s Arena Rock bands were despised by critics while still selling multi-platinum albums. None got it worse than Toto, who were accused of using their industry connections (they'd all been prolific session musicians before they formed the band) to rig the Grammy Awards in 1983.
- In the 1980's, Stevie Nicks was commonly dismissed by "highbrow" rock critics (Rolling Stone was particularly egregious in this regard) who fawned on her former lover and current bandmate Lindsey Buckingham, notwithstanding that his albums were only a fraction as popular as hers. Many of those same critics did a perfect about-face and hailed her as an elder stateswoman of rock and roll in the late 1990's and 2000's.
- Music critics hated the entire Hair Metal genre during the 1980s, but that didn't stop it from becoming the biggest music genre in the world during that decade. When Grunge became popular in the early 1990s and pushed hair metal out of the spotlight those critics breathed a sigh of relief and embraced the "earthy, genuine, and intelligent" new rock genre. In the last few years, how ever, Hair Metal has experienced a resurgence in popularity with bands like Mötley Crüe and Poison having highly successful tours, with some of these bands even releasing new albums.
- Britney Spears has one of the biggest hatedoms in all of pop land, but somehow manages to get those #1 singles and albums, sell out tours, get hired for big bucks for TV shows and generally remain relevant and popular in the public eye.
- One word: Dubstep. It is the current whipping boy of every major music critic, lambasted as a tuneless disgrace to all music. Now watch any video game trailer in the last year or two. That stuff is popular.
- When she first appeared, most critics said, and not without some justification, that Lady Gaga would still be a C-List Girl Singer with no record contract were it not for her outlandish behavior, and that her "true talent" wasn't music, but rather PR management. Millions of her fans surprisingly failed to care and buy her albums in droves.
- Almost anything popular that happens to belong to a Dead Horse Genre.
- Classical music is often thought of as being above such battles, but Giacomo Puccini is an example of a composer who's effectively Critic Proof. There is a large body of informed opinion in the classical world which argues that Puccini may have had a knack for catchy tunes, but compared to his compatriot Giuseppe Verdi he had very little talent for constructing musical drama, and most of his stories, however promising, are effectively ruined by the steaming ladles-ful of musical Narm that he poured over them. However, none of this seems to affect Puccini's box office, and he remains one of the most popular opera composers ever.
- Billy Joel has been known to have been savaged critically, at least at the height of his success, but according to The Other Wiki has sold 150 million albums worldwide as of 2013. His 1978 album 52nd Street (which bears the distinction of being the first album mass-manufactured for Compact Disc in 1982) won the Album Of The Year Grammy, he's a member of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, and many of hs hits have become standards.
- The Kidz Bop albums definitely qualify, albeit not so much with professional critics as with more casual music fans. The main complaints are that they Bowdlerize already mediocre songs by censoring the lyrics (in some cases, that actually makes the lyrics dirtier and even so, the lyrics are still not appropriate for kids) and have kids sing the songs, never mind that they can't even sing and might not not even be going through puberty, yet these albums still sell enough to warrant 25 albums.
- Elton John very rarely, especially at the height of his fame got the kind of critical respect he had during his singer-songwriter period for his albums (although he had released his fair share of inconsistent albums as well, even his more notable albums and songs recieved unfair criticism), yet he remained one of the top acts of The Seventies and has been very successful at many times since his heyday. Much the the blame can be due to his very high profile all over the media, and some of it due to the fact he adopted an increasingly flamboyant image as he changed to a more glam-rock and pop-oriented sound by Honky Chateau.
- The Jewish/Irish ethnic comedy play Abie's Irish Rose opened on Broadway in 1922, and quickly became a laughingstock of theatre critics. It closed five years later, having run longer than any previous Broadway show.
- Andrew Lloyd Webber's Eighties musicals Cats and The Phantom of the Opera were — and are to this day — heavily criticized as empty Spectacle, but were phenomenally successful with audiences anyway.
- Les Misérables:
- It was panned by critics after the first performance in the 1980s. The cast expected empty seats at the next performance, yet Word Of Mouth by theatregoers who absolutely loved it ensured that now, even 25 years later, it's a box office hit.
- Les Mis received negative reviews in the U.K. at the beginning but that American critics and audiences were basically united in application, with the musical making the cover of Newsweek and getting much press, thus making it an Inverted Trope / Played Straight depending on the location.
- In-story example: In Dream Girl, Jim is fired by a publishing house after he turns down Always Opal (an obvious Fictional Counterpart of Forever Amber), which proceeds to sell out at bookstores everywhere. "If I had it to do over again, I'd still turn that book down," he tells his sister-in-law Georgina, who completely agrees with him on the book's trashiness: "It's nothing but a lot of dressed-up smut, atrociously written, and all in very bad taste, if you ask me."
- Backyard Sports. There are new editions every year and the games keep selling. IGN and G4 continue to hate the series, though (they both thought it was average at the beginning, then they considered it one of the worst game series of all time).
- Most EA Sports franchises, though FIFA Soccer and NHL Hockey have been acclaimed in later years. Part of FIFA's success should be credited to the poor job Konami did with Pro Evolution Soccer on the last couple years.
- Enter the Matrix sold 5 million copies despite being panned by critics (and many gamers, after they bought it).
- Gamespot once gave out an annual "Worst Game Everyone Played" award until it stopped doing so after 2010. Past winners included:
- Licensed games tend to fare this way. Superman 64, despite being widely considered one of the worst games ever made, actually sold pretty well.
- When New Super Mario Bros. 2 came out, critics hated the game for being a Mission Pack Sequel WITH COINS! to New Super Mario Bros. Wii, but it became the fourth best-selling game for the 3DS.
- Valhalla Knights has managed to become a franchise despite scathing reviews in the North American gaming media.
- Gaming critics hated almost everything about the Wii, which eventually sold 100 million units worldwide (the third home console to do so).
- The simulator series of PC games is pretty much trashed and ridiculed in every gaming review media it appears in, but is a Cash Cow Franchise in Europe. Part of the reason could be attributed to the low pricing point (It costs around 20€ at launch) and its Refuge in Audacity , which helped it build a huge audience of people tired of the modern gaming market.
- The Just Dance series is the biggest Cash Cow Franchise of Ubisoft and each entry of the series is known to have very low scores from critics. It is also pretty much the series where critics use Lampshade Hanging on this trope.
- Family Guy. Despite getting a considerable amount of hate since its resurrection in 2005 and being considered one of the most controversial things man ever wrought, it's still one of FOX's highest rated shows.
- Early reviews for The Looney Tunes Show ripped it apart, calling it an insult to the Looney Tunes franchise, but that didn't stop the show from gaining huge ratings and even a sizable Periphery Demographic, including classic Looney Tunes fans.
- Johnny Test allegedly got very good ratings and rand for about 6-7 seasons, yet it's considered by many critics and viewers to be one of the worst (if not the worst) kids cartoons ever made. In fact, it's believed to be behind-the-scenes issues that finally killed it, not its bad reception.
- Ultimate Spider-Man is possibly one of the most polarizing superhero cartoons ever made, and yet has done well enough to earn three seasons so far. The toys in particular (the shilling of which is one of the most criticized aspect of the show) seem to sell very well.
- The Flintstones. From its 1960 inception, critics and Golden Age Animation purists hated it because it's, well, Hanna-Barbera. And Hanna-Barbera has always had a large segment of Hatedom. But that didn't stop The Flintstones from enjoying a six year prime time run, various spinoffs and two theatrical movies, and Hanna-Barbera staying in operation for over 40 years.