Do you miss the good old days?

Back when this country was great, I could pass flatus in public and no one would bat an eye. In fact, I even used to soil myself and it would be cleaned up for me. What’s changed? I put it down to the onslaught of the radical left – but that’s a column for another time.

After diving deep into the gender and age divide in movie-watching habits, we learned there are some massive differences in opinions when it comes to what makes a “good” film. It’s all subjective – but we found that we can guess pretty accurately what sort of film you’d like depending on whether you’re under or over 35.

What if we could bring some objectivity to the debate? Instead of our seniors parroting “cinema peaked in 1977 with Smokey and the Bandit“, we should be able to empirically say that cinema is declining in quality.

Plotting 25,000 films over almost 100 years shows a little bit of the trend.

Screen Shot 2017 08 28 At 11.15.25

Note: we’re using the US voters’ average score for this, because it was easier to do so. Also, we only have full years’ data up to 2015.

Primarily, this just shows that more films are getting made. Or, at least, more films are getting added to IMDb. The orange-hued middle area also jumps out.

Most films are pretty mediocre, according to this chart. They aren’t great, but they aren’t awful. They’re literally a 6 out of 10. In the period from 1930-60ish, you’ll see the orange bars are much smaller than the green bars. Moving from 1960 to the present day, it grows massively in size. Mediocrity has outpaced excellence.

Perhaps you could put this down the filmmaking being more accessible. There’s not as much quality control as there used to be.

There are a lot more terrible films being made than there used to be, for sure. However, there’s also a lot more great films being made.

As seen below, the growth in the number of terrible films being made is much higher than the number of great films.

Rating7 4

So, where do we stand? Are we in a better cinematic place than 30 years ago? To get some real clarity, we need to look at the data as a whole.

You might think that the swell of bad and mediocre would bring the average rating down. Or, perhaps the knowledge and expertise the industry has amassed through the years has allowed all films to rise in quality.

Both are true.

Screen Shot 2017 08 28 At 11.28.44

Up until very recently there was a slow and steady decrease in quality of the ‘average’ film. It fell from around the 7 in the 1970s to below 6 by the mid 2000s. That might seem insignificant, but it’s actually a big deal when we’re talking about 25,000 films – the sheer volume of data makes this a significant average drop in score.

There’s one quite large caveat to to this, though. The folk who are voting on IMDb in 2017 aren’t the sort of people who lived through the summer blockbuster season of ’57. It’s much more likely that modern-day voters will only have seen the good or “classic” movies from yesterday – therefore years gone by have a higher average score. Still, IMDb was launched in 1990 and has still shown an observable downward trend.

Since 2010, there’s been a small uptick – but it’s hard to gauge why this happened. Could it be that after falling into a serious dark point in the 1990s and early 2000s, the average filmmaker finally started taking notes? Did the release of Easy A in 2010 herald a new golden age of cinema?

Are people simply rating new films highly, then correcting their score when the film’s become older and more dated?

What do you think? Do you think these scores tell us something about the state of the film industry, or is it more about the opinions of the IMDb movie-watching elite?