Since 2004, only 11 movies have earned an F from CinemaScore, the polling company that lets moviegoers rate films. Now there is a 12th: Darren Aronofsky’s mother! 

It’s not exactly good news for the film, which is already opening in the shadow of IT, one of the biggest horror movies of the decade. Even with Jennifer Lawrence in the title role, mother! was already facing an uphill climb at the box office, trying to bring audiences out to a strange-looking film with a premise that’s left mostly vague in the marketing. The film, which we discuss in detail here, is a multifaceted allegory about religion, the environment, and the difficulty of living with artists. Not exactly crowd-pleasing stuff.

In a way, the CinemaScore F is as much a badge of courage as it is a scarlet letter. CinemaScore only polls moviegoers who see a film on its opening Friday night. So these are the hardest of the hardcore fans, and their votes tend to reflect less of a movie’s quality than how well or how poorly it lives up to people’s expectations about something, and whether or not they feel like they got their money’s worth. Simply bad movies tend to get in the C range. The movies that get F are often not the worst, but the strangest; the ones that defy easy categorization. That’s certainly true of mother!

Back when I was at The Dissolve (RIP), my colleague, Scott Tobias, proposed what he called “The Cinemascore F-estival,” a film fest dedicated to showing just the movies that get F CinemaScores. The list of titles that have received that dubious distinction include underrated films like Steven Soderbergh’s Solaris, Richard Kelly’s The Box, and William Friedkin’s Bug. He argued that F movies are generally preferable to ones with mediocre passing grades. F films are typically not perfect, but they are adventurous; the opposite of the simple, formulaic junk that people complain Hollywood makes too much of. An F sounds bad, but it also shows that a filmmaker is doing something right: Challenging audiences.

12 Movies With F CinemaScores:

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