By Todd Cunningham
LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) - Movie Review Intelligence will discontinue publishing its popular aggregation website at the end of April, editor and publisher David A. Gross told TheWrap on Thursday.
"We are extremely grateful to the readers who have visited our pages during the last three and a half years," Gross said in a statement. "We are an independent website. As such, we do not have access to the content networks and mainstream moviegoers we set out to reach in order to continue our growth. And so we will stop at the end of April."
Movie Review Intelligence launched in June 2009 and has covered 3,125 movies released in theaters since then. The site includes reviews from more than 50 publications.
But in a very competitive space it was ultimately outgunned by two review-aggregating rivals, both of which are corporately owned. Market leader Rotten Tomatoes was purchased by Warner Bros. in 2011, and Metacritic's parent is CBS Interactive.
Movie Review Intelligence attracts some 85,000 readers per month across all platforms and was ranked 6.9 out of 608 million entries in a Google search for "movie reviews," ahead of Metacritic, IMDB and the New York Times.
"It's disappointing," Gross told TheWrap, "and honestly I feel bad for the industry, too, because I think we really were the most accurate gauge of the reviews out there."
Gross said he made a point of aggregating as broad a group of reviews as he could - as opposed to Metacritic, which weighted reviews by critics' stature. And he said he tried to reflect critics' shadings, particularly with reviews that fell into the large middle ground.
That's a more refined approach than Rotten Tomatoes, he noted, where reviews that have 2 stars out of 4 and C grades are considered negative. Gross said he believed that devalues average reviews and average movies.
"Negative reviews happen - we have plenty of them on Movie Review Intelligence - but trashing movies with middle reviews is not an accurate reflection of critics' opinions," Gross said.
"These are movies that many moviegoers enjoy, if not at the theater then on DVD and pay-TV. Review scores stick with a movie when they appear on rental and purchase sites. Distorting these reviews steers people away from movies they might like."
That broad-brush approach isn't doing critics any favors, either, Gross said.
"Over time, seeing the review scores, many moviegoers become alienated from critics. Moviegoers think, 'Why do the critics hate so many popular movies? They are so negative, movie after movie. The critics are definitely out of touch with my taste.' In reality, that is not the case."
Gross is a former studio executive with 25 years of movie marketing experience and is a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.