Rotten Tomatoes, the review aggregator website for movies and TV shows, has been around for almost twenty years. To many, the site’s a good way of finding out if something’s worth their time and money. But not everyone’s a fan, especially those in Hollywood whose work often falls into the “rotten” category.
One of those is Brett Ratner, director of the Rush Hour movies and whose company co-produced the recent Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Speaking at the Sun Valley Film Festival this past weekend, Ratner said: “The worst thing that we have in today’s movie culture is Rotten Tomatoes.”
There is a suggestions that a lot of Ratner’s comments could be sour grapes; the highest rating he’s ever received from the site as a director is 69 percent, for 2002’s Red Dragon.
“I think it’s the destruction of our business. I have such respect and admiration for film criticism," Ratner said. "When I was growing up film criticism was a real art. And there was intellect that went into that. And you would read Pauline’s Kael’s reviews, or some others, and that doesn’t exist anymore. Now it’s about a number. A compounded number of how many positives vs. negatives. Now it’s about, ‘What’s your Rotten Tomatoes score?’ And that’s sad, because the Rotten Tomatoes score was so low on 'Batman v Superman' I think it put a cloud over a movie that was incredibly successful.”
The Dawn of Justice score was of particular annoyance to Ratner. It cost $250 million and grossed nearly $900 million worldwide, yet has a Tomatoes rating of just 27 percent.
“People don’t realize what goes into making a movie like that,” Ratner continued. “It’s mind-blowing. It’s just insane, it’s hurting the business, it’s getting people to not see a movie. In Middle America it’s, ‘Oh, it’s a low Rotten Tomatoes score so I’m not going to go see it because it must suck.’ But that number is an aggregate and one that nobody can figure out exactly what it means, and it’s not always correct. I’ve seen some great movies with really abysmal Rotten Tomatoes scores. What’s sad is film criticism has disappeared. It’s really sad.”
Entertainment Weekly reached out to Rotten Tomatoes for a response, which turned out to be quite diplomatic.
At Rotten Tomatoes, we completely agree that film criticism is valuable and important, and we’re making it easier than it has ever been for fans to access potentially hundreds of professional reviews for a given film or TV show in one place,” Voris wrote. “The Tomatometer score, which is the percentage of positive reviews published by professional critics, has become a useful decision-making tool for fans, but we believe it’s just a starting point for them to begin discussing, debating and sharing their own opinions.
In August last year, Over 18,000 angry DC comics fans signed a petition demanding Rotten Tomatoes be closed, a response to Suicide Squad’s 29 percent approval rating. Strangely, this happened the day before the movie was released.
The headline in a previous version of this article mistakenly suggested that Brett Ratner directed Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. His company, RatPac Entertainment, co-financed the movie. Zack Snyder directed it. We apologize for the error.