By Josh Staszczyk
Rotten Tomatoes was founded 20 years ago with the purpose to tally up overall critic scores and create a score by taking the average score - like some kind of "Frankenstein's monster."
That score has now influenced countless moviegoers on whether or not to see the film. As such, Rotten Tomatoes has become a threat to film marketing as a whole.
Movies are huge creative processes that carry passion and behind the scenes effort. They're created with a lot of hard work. While reviews are there to give audience members an idea of how great or horrible a film is, certain review articles tend to not have a grade, but just a consensus of what some people thought about the film.
Several reviews, however, have a score that would be a letter grade, stars, or a number somewhere prominent to catch the audience's eye. Many readers (myself included) would just look for a score and move on. Rotten Tomatoes takes these reviews and turns them from a grade into a simple "Yes" or "No."
Acclaimed film director Martin Scorsese offered a few words about the website in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. He said, Rotten Tomatoes has "absolutely nothing to do with real film criticism. They rate a picture the way you'd rate a horse at the racetrack, a restaurant in a Zagat's guide, or a household appliance in Consumer Reports. They have everything to do with the movie business and absolutely nothing to do with either the creation or the intelligent viewing of film. The filmmaker is reduced to a content manufacturer and the viewer to an unadventurous consumer."
This was brought up after the director was asked about the divisive film, "mother!" Scorsese not only praised the film, but also stated, "As film criticism written by passionately engaged people with actual knowledge of film history has gradually faded from the scene, it seems like there are more and more voices out there engaged in pure judgmentalism."
The world is slowly changing, following the death of Roger Ebert, who was a well-respected and acclaimed film critic. It's worth noting Ebert was disgusted with idea of Rotten Tomatoes. People who are not devoted to the art of filmmaking are slowly starting to take the places that lovers of film such as Ebert were in.
Recently, Rotten Tomatoes started a new web series titled, "See It/Skip It." It has two co-hosts, Jacqueline and Segun. Jacqueline is a critic for a site titled "Black Girl Nerds," while Sequn has appeared on several political and entertainment news channels.
Now, with the release of the highly anticipated movie "Justice League," there was a lot riding on this film whether it would do well or poorly. There were countless articles leading up to the release about issues behind the scenes from director Zack Snyder having to drop out due to the horrible loss of his child, to reports of reshoots for the film costing up to $100 million.
Rotten Tomatoes deliberately withheld the aggregated score of the film to debut it in its web series. Prior to this, "Justice League" was projected to make an estimated $110 million domestic and $355 million worldwide on its opening weekend. The show revealed the score to be a 41 percent. So, on opening weekend, the film grossed $93 million domestic and $185 million worldwide.
With these numbers, the DC film universe "Justice League" is a part of is currently in danger.
The reviews themselves were mostly positive, but resulted in a mixed bag of a film with several of the reviews coming in at 2.5/4 or 6/10. But the odd thing is, Rotten Tomatoes considers almost half these reviews "rotten," which obviously impacted its score.
Garrett, a casual moviegoer who loves going to the theaters to see movies, was asked his thoughts on about Rotten Tomatoes as a whole and the impact it has on Hollywood.
"My opinion is that Rotten Tomatoes (and review aggregation sites in general) overall hurt the film industry," he said. For a lot of people, it reduces films to a single score that sticks in their head. They see that number and it may turn them away from seeing a movie they may have enjoyed. It even hurts box office success, as well, because people determine your film is bad without seeing it, and tell others they know it's bad, so less people would buy tickets. Films are such a subjective medium that you need to see movies for yourself to find what you like; you can't base your opinion off of a 'fresh rating.' "
Garrett countined to talk about how the site affects more than the film industry, but also the film journalism industry, as well.
"Writers just get thrown together into an aggregate, so it's less likely that the individual review will be read," he said. "I feel that not many people follow a specific writer, but they look at the lump sum of reviews. Rotten Tomatoes is a useful tool, but it shouldn't be all people use to decide their opinions."
IndieWire made a statement about Rotten Tomatoes back when the fifth "Transformers" film was released.
"The currently wrecthed RT score for 'Transformers 5' is nearly identical to the 19% earned by 'Transformers 2- in 2009, but that film had a $129 million five-day opening weekend. That could suggest the franchise has lost 50% of its domestic value and studios suspect RT to blame. While scores and methodology were the same eight years ago, audiences now treat the site as a thumbs up/thumbs down in itself."
With all of this in mind, this caused the creation of other websites with mainly audience consensus such as "IMDb" which has grown to be a very popular film website. The presence of websites like these ones have seemed to show opposite ends of reviews, for example seeing an average of 200-plus critics for "Justice League" with an overall negative score of 41 percent. Then "IMDb" shows an average of 110,000-plus users with an overall positive score of 73 percent.
We should be understanding the films we like and not let critics intervene with our interests and taste in cinema. It can even come down to "Will I trust the reviews from 200-plus paid critics or 110,000-plus casual moviegoers?"
Rotten Tomatoes "See It/Skip It" trailer