Original Article

Journal of Cultural Economics

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 43-63

First online:

The impact of film reviews on the box office performance of art house versus mainstream motion pictures

  • Gerda GemserAffiliated withDepartment of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, University of Groningen Email author 
  • , Martine Van OostrumAffiliated withDepartment of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, University of Groningen
  • , Mark A. A. M. LeendersAffiliated withDepartment of Communication Studies, Amsterdam School of Communications Research, University of Amsterdam

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Critics and their reviews can play an important role in consumer decision making in general, and film choice in particular. In this study, we propose that consumers of art house movies are being led by film reviews when making a film choice (influence effect), whereas consumers of mainstream movies are hypothesized to rely mainly on other sources of information. Thus, in the latter case the review does not influence the moviegoer, but may still be a reflection of the ultimate success of the movie (predictor effect). Using the Dutch film industry as our empirical setting, we study the effects of reviews on the opening weekend and on the cumulative box office revenue. Our research shows that the number and size of film reviews in Dutch newspapers directly influence the behavior of the art-movie-going public in their film choice. The number and size of film reviews of mainstream movies, on the other hand, only predict movie performance.


Dutch art house movies Dutch mainstream movies Film critics Film performance