This study is the first attempt to examine the effect of electronic word of mouth (user
reviews) relative to expert reviews on moviegoing decisions. For the first time, we
use time-varying data on expert reviews. We find that expert ratings matter much
more for moviegoing decisions than user ratings and volume. Our data also show
that experts tend to be more critical but more consistent in their reviews than users.
We find that experts, but not eWOM, affect wide release moviegoing, contrary to
industry thinking. Finally, we show that experts’ reviews matter most when consumers
and critics are in closer agreement about the quality of the film. The study uses
OLS as well as instrumental variables analysis to account for possible endogeneity.