Not even Jennifer Lawrence could win over CinemaScore audiences with mother! Her new ‘WTF’ film with director (and current boyfriend) Darren Aronofsky earned a dreaded F from the movie polling company after Friday night screenings.
mother! had a positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes (69 percent of critics gave the film a positive review), but audiences revolted against Aronofsky’s film, which mixes broad religious allegory with home-invasion horror and ends with a sequence of shocking, R-rated violence. The overall rejection might have something to do with how the film was marketed, as CinemaScore founder Ed Mintz explained in a 2016 interview about his company.
“A’s generally are good, B’s generally are shaky, and C’s are terrible. D’s and F’s, they shouldn’t have made the movie, or they promoted it funny and the absolute wrong crowd got into it,” he said.
CinemaScore grades films based on reactions from moviegoers at the start of opening weekend at theaters across North America and Canada with a ballot of six questions. Other movies with an F grade include Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly, Richard Kelly’s The Box, I Know Who Killed Me with Lindsay Lohan, William Friedkin’s Bug, Greg McLean’s Wolf Creek, Steven Soderbergh’s Solaris, and Robert Altman’s Dr. T and the Women.
So, mother!‘s F grade doesn’t necessarily mean it’s dead in the water upon arrival, but rather it’s a reflection of how the first audiences are responding to the work’s high concepts compared with the movie promised via its trailer. Critics are still figuring it all out.
mother! stars Lawrence and Javier Bardem as a newlywed couple living in the middle of nowhere. Their marital bliss is interrupted when two unexpected guests — a man (Ed Harris) and his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) — arrive at their doorstep. What ensues is “Rosemary’s Baby amped up into a fugue state of self-indulgent solipsism,” EW’s Chris Nashawaty writes.
“I’ve been a fan, so once he told me the ideas floating around in his head I said yes,” Lawrence said of Aronofksy. “Then I got a script and when I read it I threw it across the room and told him he had severe psychological problems. But it’s a masterpiece.”
mother! is now playing in theaters.