A note to all film critics and fanboys: Brett Ratner really isn’t a fan of Rotten Tomatoes.
Talking at the Sun Valley Film Festival last weekend, Ratner made it clear he wasn’t against film criticism or open discussions regarding a movie’s merits. Rather, Ratner was frustrated by the aggregation of those reviews the website Rotten Tomatoes provides and the sort of declarative statement it can make on a film’s success.
The worst thing that we have in today’s movie culture is Rotten Tomatoes. I think it’s the destruction of our business. I have such respect and admiration for film criticism. 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.
It’s worth breaking down the specificity of Ratner’s Batman v Superman mention. Ratner’s company RatPac Entertainment co-financed Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman (as well as other Warner Bros. features).
And as EW mentions, Batman v Superman is an “incredibly successful” movie in a financial sense. It cost about $250 million to make and grossed more than $900 million worldwide. On Rotten Tomatoes, it was a major disappointment with its 27 percent score, though it did score 63 percent audience score.
People don’t realize what goes into making a movie like that. 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.
Doing their due diligence, EW reached out to Rotten Tomatoes regarding Ratner’s comments. What’s surprising is RT Vice President Jeff Voris sort of agreed with Ratner in his statement.
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. 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.
So maybe don’t just check the numbers next time on Rotten Tomatoes?