Did Paramount try to mess with the *gasp* integrity of Rottentomatoes.com?

A sign of the times, I guess. Critics are accusing Paramount of trying to rig (at least temporarily) the Rottentomatoes.com rating for last week’s GI Joe movie. The contention is that while Paramount refused to screen the film for critics before it hit screens–seldom a good sign–they did invite favored fanboys like AICN to attend private showings earlier in the week.

If this was the idea, it worked, at least briefly. Days before the film came out, it had an improbable 90% approval rating at RT. It should be noted that a handful of movies sustain a 90% rating in a given year. Mysteriously, this rating plummeted by Friday, when the vast majority of newspaper and magazine critics had their say. It now stands at an entirely scathing 25%. Which, for the math challenged, is quite a bit lower than 90%.

It’s arguable what effect Paramount’s strategy (assuming that’s what it was) had on box office tallies. Presumably some people somewhere saw the early high score and it made them more likely to change their ten bucks that weekend. However, while the film was the number one release that frame, it pulled in a tepid $54.7m, and an equally tepid $97m worldwide. That’s maybe $50m back to Paramount.

On a $175m budget (!!!!), that’s not even close to putting it in the break even category. The film will probably make back its nut, or at least come close to it, by the time DVD sales and such are accounted. However, Paramount’s going to have to hope for very strong toy sales to generate any profits.

In any case, while the ultimate effects of Paramount’s (supposed) strategy are open to debate, the fact is they did seem to get the result they wanted for at least a brief amount of time. Surely the other studios were keeping an eye out, and look to see more refined versions of such tactics employed in the future.