Tired of Rotten Tomatoes? Then you should check out The Moviegoer, Penn’s student-run film criticism blog.
Sponsored by the Kelly Writers House, the site not only offers analyses, reviews and previews of films, but also of TV shows and visual albums.
The Moviegoer was founded in fall 2015 by College senior Brad Pettigrew, a “disillusioned” mathematics major who found his passion in writing about film. The organization has grown from a small group of film writers to a staff of 30 writers, editors and marketing staff.
“It takes a village,” Pettigrew said.
Knowing that students can easily look at Rotten Tomatoes or other movie sites for reviews, The Moviegoer also publishes articles focusing on issues portrayed in film, film history and the interconnected relationship of media.
“This past semester, we’ve tried to take a shift towards more think pieces that are more unique and specialized,” said College junior Ritwik Bhatia, the head of press outreach for The Moviegoer.
Content published on the site includes film comparisons, genre histories, controversies, reviews of TV shows, a series of articles on visual albums such as Frank Ocean’s “Endless,” interviews with directors and podcasts.
“We like to work a lot in the intersection of our audiences’ different interests,” Pettigrew said.
Recently, The Moviegoer has been sending its writers to film festivals to review movies as they premiere. Bhatia works with distribution companies around Philadelphia to secure press passes for these events. At the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2016, Bhatia got to interview Ricky Gervais on the red carpet.
“He’s like my favorite comedian,” Bhatia said. “So it was a dream come true.”
Engineering freshman Morgan Herrmann wrote a 10-part series reviewing HBO’s "Westworld" and markets the publication on social media. She created an Instagram account for fans of "Westworld" and got 41,000 followers, which she then linked to The Moviegoer site to get more views.
Pettigrew said The Moviegoer has about 800 active monthly users, half of whom are in Philadelphia. Most of these viewers are affiliated with Penn, but some are from Temple University and Drexel University as well.
The publication is completely online, allowing its writers to publish without any time restrictions.
“If there’s a film that comes out, or a film controversy that comes out, we can cover that pretty quickly,” Pettigrew said.
Members of the club are constantly in contact with one another through an active group chat. They meet once a week and have various movie nights.
“Everyone in the club is really passionate about it. So it makes it really easy to bond … or fight. We sometimes have very diverging views on films, which is cool,” College senior and writer for The Moviegoer Elvire Audi said.
With a predominantly senior staff, The Moviegoer is working to recruit more writers to keep the publication going beyond this year.
“I think there is really something special about it, and I hope to continue making that something special grow,” Pettigrew added.
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