Heath Ledger Joker

It will shock absolutely no one to hear that critical consensus and audience reaction often fail to match up. The divide between those opinions is why, every couple of months or so, we get another wave of thinkpieces wondering whether reviewers are out of touch and asking whether they even matter anymore.

But how much do the two groups differ in their reactions, really? After all, critics are moviegoers too — they’re just ones who happen to have more experience analyzing and discussing cinema. A fun new infographic examines that question by looking at some of the best known, best loved film trilogies of all time, and comparing each installment’s Metacritic score to its IMDb user score. Check it out after the jump.

Visually user jess posted the chart.

Movies So Nice They Made Them Thrice

For the most part, IMDb users seem to be more forgiving of these films than the reviewers are. (The exceptions include the first Star Wars, the second Spider-Man, and the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy.) So to some extent, the data backs up the stereotype of the hard-to-please critic.

But as the chart shows, the two sides aren’t so different in their reactions to each movie relative to the others. Again, there are outliers. Critics apparently warmed to Austin Powers as the series went on, while moviegoers found that the series yielded diminishing returns.

However, everyone agrees that Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy peaked with The Dark Knight, for example, and that the Matrix saga got worse with each successive entry. It’s just that the professionals thought The Dark Knight was merely pretty good (82), instead of the best thing ever (90).

There are some mitigating circumstances, like the fact that critics tend to write their reviews right after watching a movie while IMDb voters have the benefit of hindsight. Or the fact that reviewers have to watch whatever they’re assigned, whereas a typical movie watcher can just avoid a film they expect to dislike.

In other words, this chart doesn’t “prove” anything. Still, it’s an interesting perspective on the question of whether critics are so wildly disconnected from moviegoers as a whole. Based on this data, the answer seems to be “not as much as you might think.”

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