Review-aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes has become the go-to for discerning moviegoers when they need to decide if it’s worth dishing out their hard-earned cash on the latest cineplex offerings.
But director/producer Brett Ratner (the man behind the “Rush Hour” franchise) isn’t a fan of the site, to put it lightly.
“The worst thing that we have in today’s movie culture is Rotten Tomatoes,” Ratner said while speaking at the Sun Valley Film Festival this past weekend.
Ratner’s company RatPac Entertainment cofinanced “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (and countless other big-budget movies), and as he makes clear, he’s still feeling the sting of the critical backlash against that superhero blockbuster, despite its massive box-office gross (it currently sits at a rotten 27%).
“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.”
Rotten Tomatoes has become such a resource for audiences that if a movie has a high rating on the site, it’s often used in promotion for the film.
Ratner has never received much love from the site’s scores for the movies he’s directed (his highest as a director was 69% for 2002’s “Red Dragon”). And the stigma of a rotten score for a film like “Batman v Superman” is a concern to Ratner.
“People don’t realise what goes into making a movie like that,” Ratner said. “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 got Rotten Tomatoes’ reaction to Ratner’s comments:
“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.”
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