Critics Round Up’s James Kang announced today that he is shutting down the review aggregation site, effectively immediately.
It’s with a bowed head and a heavy heart that I have to announce the closing of Critics Round Up. The site never made a profit like I expected it to. Part of the reason for the site’s failure has to be because of some of the mistakes I’ve made along the way (not creating a budget for an ad campaign early, fumbling collaborative deals with bigger websites).
This announcement probably feels very sudden, especially since the Cannes Film Festival is only two days away. These past few weeks, it’s been getting much harder to stay motivated since the pageviews have been dwindling so rapidly. I couldn’t bear the thought of working several 12-hour days in a row like I did for Cannes last year knowing the site’s audience has been reaching near-historic lows. These past 12 months have taken a lot of energy out of me with no monetary reward
Unlike Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, whose rankings favor critics and publications with larger audiences, CRU’s lineup was idiosyncratically curated, including, for example, the current lineup of critics at the A.V. Club, but not the A.V. Club expats who left to start the Dissolve, to the extent that it felt like Kang was putting his thumb on the scale. (My own reviews were included when I wrote for certain publications and not for others.) But CRU was also the only site to run the gamut from major dailies to Letterboxd blurbs, providing a unique perspective on the ever-shifting ways in which critics disseminate their work. Kang suggests in his farewell letter that a new site run along similar lines is in the works, which made it easier for him to step away, but until it launches the work of finding good criticism in out-of-the-way places will be a little harder.