In the old days negative critical word was naturally regarded as a bad thing. If a majority of film critics said a certain film really stinks this was definitely thought to be a harbinger of box-office calamity, and more often than not the box-office tallies tended to bear this out. Nowadays, of course, the Eloi and the Joe Popcorn crowd will pay to see whatever the hell they want to see regardless of good or bad critical buzz. True, within a certain rarified strata of moviegoers (i.e., that miniscule micro-minority that actually cares about seeing good stuff), the views of critics and online columnists matter. But as far as the mob is concerned it almost doesn’t matter what is said about a film as long as a film gets talked and argued about.
In other words, the kiss of death these days is not being talked or argued about at all. What matters for a film, marketing-wise, is to be “in the national conversation.” What’s being said about a film (i.e., the substantive yea-nay verdict) is really a secondary consideration. Therefore all the dumps that I took on Inglourious Basterds mattered not. What mattered is that guys like me were talking about it all the time (along with the endless stream of talk-show appearances by Quentin and Brad Pitt and Christoph Waltz). And it became a film that everyone was talking about and which had to be seen. This is more or less how things work now, I think. Agree?