Rotten Tomatoes Score: Established in 1998 by Senh Duong, Patrick Lee, and Stephen Wang, Rotten Tomatoes originated as a casual pastime among friends. However, as time progressed, the platform evolved into an industry benchmark for movie ratings. Its popularity stems from the simplicity of providing an easily accessible ‘fresh or rotten’ score, collating opinions from approved critics.
Despite becoming an industry standard, Rotten Tomatoes has not been immune to controversies, with certain aspects of its operations facing scrutiny from audiences. This has contributed to a diminished perception of the site among many. The question arises: do Rotten Tomatoes scores still hold significance? We need a closer examination of the subject to answer this.
How Accurate Is Rotten Tomatoes Score?
A notable flaw in RT lies in its simplistic approach to critics’ scores, employing a binary “fresh or rotten” system. This approach extends to audience scores as well. However, its impact is more pronounced due to studios’ emphasis on critics for promotional purposes. Critics have diverse approaches to film analysis, and readers anticipate varied perspectives.
A nuanced critic can assess films subjectively and objectively, recognizing that personal dislike doesn’t necessarily negate a recommendation for the right audience. Films with a personal rating of 4-6 out of 10, considered average, might still be suitable for specific audiences. In written reviews, critics can elaborate on their nuanced views, including positive aspects and target audiences. However, Rotten Tomatoes scores reduce these detailed reviews to a binary good or bad vote. While reviews are available on the site, the focus often remains on the overall score.
This flattening of detailed and nuanced reviews means that a “fresh” designation doesn’t always signify an overwhelmingly positive review. A movie with a 90% score may not be as impressive as the number suggests. Delving into individual reviews provides a more accurate understanding of critics’ perspectives. It might reveal that a movie perceived as merely passable contributed to the inflated score. Furthermore, genre bias plays a role in this issue, with certain genres like horror and action being deemed lesser cinema by some reviewers. This sentiment, shared by both the industry and some critics, can lead to low scores for beloved horror films.
Should You Trust Rotten Tomatoes?
Rotten Tomatoes has indeed faced controversies that have affected its reputation. One notable issue revolves around the allegation that RT scores start fresh and gradually go rotten, with claims that the site holds back negative reviews initially. While this pattern can also occur as a film gains popularity and reviews accumulate more gradually. However, the emphasis on big Hollywood films receiving fresher ratings early on has raised suspicions of potential preferential treatment.
The perception of protectionism is further fueled by instances where certain films, like the Christmas-themed series “Santa Inc.,” have surprisingly few reviews despite being major releases. In this case, the series had only five reviews at the time of writing, leading to confusion about why more opinions were not available, especially considering the negative reception.
These controversies contribute to doubts about the transparency and integrity of Rotten Tomatoes’ review aggregation process. While some instances may have reasonable explanations, the overall impact is a loss of faith in the site’s operations. As a result, these controversies have played a role in shaping the skepticism and critical view some audiences have.
Moreover, controversies surrounding specific films have added to the confusion and skepticism. Examples such as “Cuties” and “The Marvels” receiving high critical scores but low audience scores, or “The Mario Bros Movie” and “Uncharted” being labeled as Rotten by critics while receiving positive reviews from audiences, contribute to the complexity of navigating Rotten Tomatoes’ scoring system. Allegations of review bombing further complicate matters, and the discrepancies between critical and audience opinions lead to significant speculation and discussion within the film community.
In summary, the combination of controversies and discrepancies between perspectives has fueled speculations regarding the reliability of RT scores.
Do the Scores Matter?
In short, the answer is no; RT scores may not matter to many due to the ongoing division between audience and critical scores. It’s not unusual to witness a movie receive poor reviews from critics yet perform exceptionally well at the box office. The success of the Super Mario Bros Movie in 2023, despite negative critical reviews, serves as a notable example.
However, for casual moviegoers less tuned into the film industry’s intricacies, Rotten Tomatoes scores may still hold significance. Many individuals who occasionally visit theaters may not be aware of the controversies and politics surrounding Rotten Tomatoes scoring. So, for a significant portion of the audience, RT remains a reference point when considering which movies to watch.
Indeed, it’s worth noting that for films that are not in the spotlight, especially classical movies that are revisited without the pressures of studio and audience expectations, the Rotten Tomatoes scoring system can offer a more transparent reflection of audience and critical perception. Small-budget films, in particular, can benefit significantly from a positive RT score. In these cases, where the film’s success is not overshadowed by high expectations or massive marketing campaigns, Rotten Tomatoes scores may play a more constructive role in shaping the film’s reception.