Rotten Tomatoes Ratings System — How Does Rotten Tomatoes Work - Featured

Rotten Tomatoes Ratings — How Does Rotten Tomatoes Work?

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How Does Rotten Tomatoes Work?

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T he Rotten Tomatoes ratings system―good or bad? Well, I’d say it’s a bit better than the original way tomatoes were used to judge entertainment. Because even if we want to throw fruit at the screen, 21st century technology reminds us we don’t have to. Rotten Tomatoes will provide us with a fair Critic consensus before we even get to the theatre (saving us a ton of food and money).

So how does Rotten Tomatoes work, exactly? Is it a reliable judge of… characters … Okay, okay, hold your tomatoes please. Let’s get a behind the scenes look at how it all works.

Rotten Tomatoes Ratings - Tomatometer Graphics Simplified - StudioBinder

What do the Rotten Tomatoes symbols mean? Read on

Rotten tomatoes ratings system.

Rotten Tomatoes started in 2000 and it quickly became moviegoers go-to for reviews. But ever since Fandango acquired the company, it’s become even more well-known adding something called a “Tomatometer” score next to every movie and ticket listing. 

Critics have suggested that there is much more nuance and complication when it comes to the correlation between a Rotten Tomatoes rating and ticket sales. And while we will not get into that in this article, I think there is something to be said psychologically about seeing a rating right before you make your choice.

But I digress. 

I know for me, the ubiquitous nature of a Rotten Tomatoes score has made me feel like they hold more weight than they once did. But do they really hold more weight? How is the score actually calculated? And how are critics curated? 

Let's break it down.

Rotten Tomatoes Ratings - Tomatometer Score Graphic - StudioBinder

Tomatometer Breakdown

Rotten tomatoes rating system, how does the tomatometer work.

The Rotten Tomatoes rating system uses a scale better known as the “The Tomatometer.” This represents the percentage of positive reviews for a given film or show. The Tomatometer score is calculated after five reviews.

As the reviews come in, The Tomatometer measures the positive reviews against the negative ones and assigns either an overall score of fresh or rotten rating to the film or television show. 

A red tomato score indicating its fresh status, is designated when at least 60% of the reviews are positive. 

A green splat indicating rotten status, is displayed when less than 60% of the reviews are positive. 

If there is no score available, it usually just means the movie or show hasn’t been released or there aren’t enough reviews yet. So, now that we know how they’re calculated, who’s doing the reviewing? 

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How Does Rotten Tomatoes Rate Their Movies

How is rotten tomatoes rated .

Rotten Tomatoes is careful in its Critic curation. It won’t include just any critic’s review. It aggregates those who have been regularly putting out movie reviews over the last two years, and those who are considered active by Rotten Tomatoes standards. This just means they’ve published a review within the last year. While there are about 3,000 accepted reviewers (see the Tomatometer-approved critics criteria), usually only several hundred are actively reviewing for any given film. 

Many times, it’s much less. And Top Critics are counted with a separate score. So while the the Rotten Tomatoes rating system is really just general consensus, you can see some of the more renowned critics in a different space.

But it’s not just about the critics! You also get a fully rounded out review because you can also see how the audience feels. 

Rotten Tomatoes Ratings - What is Tomatometer - StudioBinder

What is the Tomatometer?

Popcorn rating explained, rotten tomatoes audience score.

This is a great feature of the site because it provides information from everyday moviegoers but also gives you some insight to see how close this score is to the critics’ scores. It can help you gauge if it’s truly a must-see or probably-pass. And it’s calculated similarly to critic reviews.

The Audience Score is designated by a popcorn bucket.

The score is the percentage of users who have rated the movie or show positively. There is also a section for Verified Ratings which includes those that have actually bought tickets. 

To receive a full popcorn bucket , at least 60% of users give a film or show a star rating of 3.5 or higher.

A tipped over popcorn bucket indicates that less than 60% of users have given it a 3.5 or higher. 

The most interesting finds are the ones that have a green splat for critics, and a full bucket of popcorn from the audience. 

While it’s rarely ever vice-versa, it happens, and it’s then when Rotten Tomatoes ratings may seem more subjective, and we wonder if the system works. And while reviews are opinion to some extent, the site boasts something called Certified Fresh, which brings a little more objectivity to the critique. 

Rotten Tomatoes Ratings - Audience Score - StudioBinder

Audience Score Breakdown

Certified rotten tomatoes score, what is certified fresh.

What does Rotten Tomatoes mean by Certified Fresh?

If a film or television show is awarded a Certified Fresh status, it’s being acknowledged that it’s met these requirements:

  • It has at least five reviews from Top Critics
  • A steady Tomatometer score of at least 75%
  • Limited release films must have at least 40 reviews
  • Wide release films must have at least 80 reviews
  • TV shows are eligible by season and must have at least 20 reviews per season

Of course these stats could fluctuate, especially within the first few days or weeks of a film’s release. If it meets these requirements, it is automatically flagged for review.

When the Rotten Tomatoes staff can determine the movie or show is unlikely to fall below these numbers, it achieves its Certified Fresh status.

Similarly, if the Tomatometer score ever falls below 70%, it will lose this status. Because the Rotten Tomatoes ratings system is so general, RT certified fresh consideration gives the site more objective credibility. 

What does Rotten Tomatoes mean for movies

Is rotten tomatoes good for movies.

So, what's the bottom line? With the movie theater business under constant assault from the rise of streaming services, audiences are less and less likely to venture out to the movies. If they do happen to make it outside the house, they'll likely be extra picky about how they spend their money.

Will they choose an "untested" wildcard movie or one that has general approval from fans and critics? The answer is self-evident. On its surface, the Rotten Tomatoes rating system and Tomatometer seem to be a legitimate resource for the discerning consumer. 

However, there is also a legitimate concern for low-budget indie movies who already have the cards stacked against them in distribution. Since they don't have the marketing budget of the Hollywood tentpoles, curious moviegoers have little else to go on besides the Tomatometer. These "little fish" movies live or die by this system, which is ultimately opinion-based and subjective.

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If you’re a filmmaker or just love the movies, using cliches are a sure fire way to get awarded a nice big green splat, or a tipped over popcorn bucket.  Next up, are some examples of these tired situations and ways to avoid them.

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Rotten Tomatoes, explained

Does a movie’s Rotten Tomatoes score affect its box office returns? And six other questions, answered.

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An image of Rotten Tomatoes’ logo

In February 2016, Rotten Tomatoes — the site that aggregates movie and TV critics’ opinions and tabulates a score that’s “fresh” or “rotten” — took on an elevated level of importance. That’s when Rotten Tomatoes (along with its parent company Flixster) was acquired by Fandango , the website that sells advance movie tickets for many major cinema chains.

People had been using Rotten Tomatoes to find movie reviews since it launched in 2000, but after Fandango acquired the site, it began posting “Tomatometer” scores next to movie ticket listings. Since then, studio execs have started to feel as if Rotten Tomatoes matters more than it used to — and in some cases, they’ve rejiggered their marketing strategies accordingly.

It’s easy to see why anyone might assume that Rotten Tomatoes scores became more tightly linked to ticket sales, with potential audiences more likely to buy tickets for a movie with a higher score, and by extension, giving critics more power over the purchase of a ticket.

But that’s not the whole story. And as most movie critics (including myself) will tell you, the correlation between Rotten Tomatoes scores, critical opinion, marketing tactics, and actual box office returns is complicated. It’s not a simple cause-and-effect situation.

My own work is included in both Rotten Tomatoes’ score and that of its more exclusive cousin, Metacritic . So I, along with many other critics , think often of the upsides and pitfalls of aggregating critical opinion and its effect on which movies people see. But for the casual moviegoer, how review aggregators work, what they measure, and how they affect ticket sales can be mysterious.

So when I got curious about how people perceive Rotten Tomatoes and its effect on ticket sales, I did what any self-respecting film critic does: I informally polled my Twitter followers to see what they wanted to know.

Here are seven questions that many people have about Rotten Tomatoes, and review aggregation more generally — and some facts to clear up the confusion.

How is a Rotten Tomatoes score calculated?

The score that Rotten Tomatoes assigns to a film corresponds to the percentage of critics who’ve judged the film to be “fresh,” meaning their opinion of it is more positive than negative. The idea is to quickly offer moviegoers a sense of critical consensus.

“Our goal is to serve fans by giving them useful tools and one-stop access to critic reviews, user ratings, and entertainment news to help with their entertainment viewing decisions,” Jeff Voris, a vice president at Rotten Tomatoes, told me in an email.

The opinions of about 3,000 critics — a.k.a. the “Approved Tomatometer Critics” who have met a series of criteria set by Rotten Tomatoes — are included in the site’s scores, though not every critic reviews every film, so any given score is more typically derived from a few hundred critics, or even less. The scores don’t include just anyone who calls themselves a critic or has a movie blog; Rotten Tomatoes only aggregates critics who have been regularly publishing movie reviews with a reasonably widely read outlet for at least two years, and those critics must be “active,” meaning they've published at least one review in the last year. The site also deems a subset of critics to be “top critics” and calculates a separate score that only includes them.

Some critics (or staffers at their publications) upload their own reviews, choose their own pull quotes, and designate their review as “fresh” or “rotten.” Other critics (including myself) have their reviews uploaded, pull-quoted, and tagged as fresh or rotten by the Rotten Tomatoes staff. In the second case, if the staff isn't sure whether to tag a review as fresh or rotten, they reach out to the critic for clarification. And critics who don't agree with the site’s designation can request that it be changed.

As the reviews of a given film accumulate, the Rotten Tomatoes score measures the percentage that are more positive than negative, and assigns an overall fresh or rotten rating to the movie. Scores of over 60 percent are considered fresh, and scores of 59 percent and under are rotten. To earn the coveted “designated fresh” seal, a film needs at least 40 reviews, 75 percent of which are fresh, and five of which are from “top” critics.

What does a Rotten Tomatoes score really mean ?

A Rotten Tomatoes score represents the percentage of critics who felt mildly to wildly positively about a given film.

If I give a film a mixed review that’s generally positive (which, in Vox’s rating system, could range from a positive-skewing 3 to the rare totally enamored 5), that review receives the same weight as an all-out rave from another critic. (When I give a movie a 2.5, I consider that to be a neutral score; by Rotten Tomatoes' reckoning, it's rotten.) Theoretically, a 100 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating could be made up entirely of middling-to-positive reviews. And if half of the critics the site aggregates only sort of like a movie, and the other half sort of dislike it, the film will hover around 50 percent (which is considered “rotten” by the site).

Contrary to some people’s perceptions, Rotten Tomatoes itself maintains no opinion about a film. What Rotten Tomatoes tries to gauge is critical consensus.

Critics’ opinions do tend to cluster on most films. But there are always outliers, whether from contrarians (who sometimes seem to figure out what people will say and then take the opposite opinion), or from those who seem to love every film. And critics, like everyone, have various life experiences, aesthetic preferences, and points of view that lead them to have differing opinions on movies.

So in many (if not most) cases, a film’s Rotten Tomatoes score may not correspond to any one critic’s view. It’s more like an imprecise estimate of what would happen if you mashed together every Tomatometer critic and had the resulting super-critic flash a thumbs-up or thumbs-down.

Rotten Tomatoes also lets audiences rate movies, and the score is often out of step with the critical score. Sometimes, the difference is extremely significant, a fact that's noticeable because the site lists the two scores side by side.

There’s a straightforward reason the two rarely match, though: The critical score is more controlled and methodical.

Why? Most professional critics have to see and review many films, whether or not they’re inclined to like the movie. (Also, most critics don’t pay to see films, because studios hold special early screenings for them ahead of the release date, which removes the decision of whether they’re interested enough in a film to spend their hard-earned money on seeing it.)

But with Rotten Tomatoes’ audience score, the situation is different. Anyone on the internet can contribute — not just those who actually saw the film. As a result, a film’s Rotten Tomatoes score can be gamed by internet trolls seeking to sink it simply because they find its concept offensive. A concerted effort can drive down the film’s audience score before it even comes out, as was the case with the all-female reboot of Ghostbusters .

Even if Rotten Tomatoes required people to pass a quiz on the movie before they rated it, the score would still be somewhat unreliable. Why? Because ordinary audiences are more inclined to buy tickets to movies they’re predisposed to like — who wants to spend $12 to $20 on a film they’re pretty sure they’ll hate?

So audience scores at Rotten Tomatoes (and other audience-driven scores, like the ones at IMDb) naturally skew very positive, or sometimes very negative if there’s any sort of smear campaign in play. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. But audience scores tend to not account for those who would never buy a ticket to the movie in the first place.

In contrast, since critics see lots of movies — some of which they would have gone to see anyhow, and some of which they would’ve never chosen to see if their editors didn’t make the assignment — their opinion distribution should theoretically be more even, and thus the critical Rotten Tomatoes score more “accurate.”

A screenshot of the Rotten Tomatoes page for Wonder Woman

Or at least that’s what Rotten Tomatoes thinks. The site displays a movie’s critics’ scores — the official Tomatometer — at Fandango and in a more prominent spot on the movie’s Rotten Tomatoes landing page. The audience score is also displayed on the Rotten Tomatoes page, but it’s not factored into the film’s fresh or rotten rating, and doesn’t contribute to a film being labeled as “certified fresh.”

Why do critics often get frustrated by the Tomatometer?

The biggest reason many critics find Rotten Tomatoes frustrating is that most people’s opinions about movies can’t be boiled down to a simple thumbs up or down. And most critics feel that Rotten Tomatoes, in particular, oversimplifies criticism, to the detriment of critics, the audience, and the movies themselves.

In some cases, a film really is almost universally considered to be excellent, or to be a complete catastrophe. But critics usually come away from a movie with a mixed view. Some things work, and others don’t. The actors are great, but the screenplay is lacking. The filmmaking is subpar, but the story is imaginative. Some critics use a four- or five-star rating, sometimes with half-stars included, to help quantify mixed opinions as mostly negative or mostly positive.

The important point here is that no critic who takes their job seriously is going to have a simple yes-or-no system for most movies. Critics watch a film, think about it, and write a review that doesn't just judge the movie but analyzes, contextualizes, and ruminates over it. The fear among many critics (including myself) is that people who rely largely on Rotten Tomatoes aren't interested in the nuances of a film, and aren't particularly interested in reading criticism, either.

But maybe the bigger reason critics are worried about the influence of review aggregators is that they seem to imply there's a “right” way to evaluate a movie, based on most people's opinions. We worry that audience members who have different reactions will feel as if their opinion is somehow wrong, rather than seeing the diversity of opinions as an invitation to read and understand how and why people react to art differently.

A screenshot of the Rotten Tomatoes score for Fight Club.

Plenty of movies — from Psycho to Fight Club to Alien — would have earned a rotten rating from Rotten Tomatoes upon their original release, only to be reconsidered and deemed classics years later as tastes, preferences, and ideas about films changed. Sometimes being an outlier can just mean you're forward-thinking.

Voris, the Rotten Tomatoes vice president, told me that the site is always trying to grapple with this quandary. “The Rotten Tomatoes curation team is constantly adding and updating reviews for films — both past and present,” he told me. “If there’s a review available from an approved critic or outlet, it will be added.”

What critics are worried about is a tendency toward groupthink, and toward scapegoating people who deviate from the “accepted” analysis. You can easily see this in the hordes of fans that sometimes come after a critic who dares to “ruin” a film's perfect score . But critics (at least serious ones) don't write their reviews to fit the Tomatometer, nor are they out to “get” DC Comics movies or religious movies or political movies or any other movies. Critics love movies and want them to be good, and we try to be honest when we see one that we don't measures up.

That doesn't mean the audience can't like a movie with a rotten rating, or hate a movie with a fresh rating. It's no insult to critics when audience opinion diverges. In fact, it makes talking and thinking about movies more interesting.

If critics are ambivalent about Rotten Tomatoes scores, why do moviegoers use the scores to decide whether to see a movie?

Mainly, it’s easy. You’re buying movie tickets on Fandango, or you’re trying to figure out what to watch on Netflix, so you check the Rotten Tomatoes score to decide. It’s simple. That’s the point.

And that’s not a bad thing. It's helpful to get a quick sense of critical consensus, even if it's somewhat imprecise. Many people use Rotten Tomatoes to get a rough idea of whether critics generally liked a film.

The flip side, though, is that some people, whether they’re critics or audience members, will inevitably have opinions that don't track with the Rotten Tomatoes score at all. Just because an individual's opinion is out of step with the Tomatometer doesn't mean the person is “wrong” — it just means they're an outlier.

And that, frankly, is what makes art, entertainment, and the world at large interesting: Not everyone has the same opinion about everything, because people are not exact replicas of one another. Most critics love arguing about movies, because they often find that disagreeing with their colleagues is what makes their job fun. It's fine to disagree with others about a movie, and it doesn't mean you're “wrong.”

(For what it’s worth, another review aggregation site, Metacritic, maintains an even smaller and more exclusive group of critics than Rotten Tomatoes — its aggregated scores cap out around 50 reviews per movie, instead of the hundreds that can make up a Tomatometer score. Metacritic’s score for a film is different from Rotten Tomatoes’ insofar as each individual review is assigned a rating on a scale of 100 and the overall Metacritic score is a weighted average, the mechanics of which Metacritic absolutely refuses to divulge . But because the site’s ratings are even more carefully controlled to include only experienced professional critics — and because the reviews it aggregates are given a higher level of granularity, and presumably weighted by the perceived influence of the critic’s publication — most critics consider Metacritic a better gauge of critical opinion.)

Does a movie’s Rotten Tomatoes score affect its box office earnings?

The short version: It can, but not necessarily in the ways you might think.

A good Rotten Tomatoes score indicates strong critical consensus, and that can be good for smaller films in particular. It’s common for distributors to roll out such films slowly, opening them in a few key cities (usually New York and Los Angeles, and maybe a few others) to generate good buzz — not just from critics, but also on social media and through word of mouth. The result, they hope, is increased interest and ticket sales when the movie opens in other cities.

Get Out , for example, certainly profited from the 99 percent “fresh” score it earned since its limited opening. And the more recent The Big Sick became one of last summer's most beloved films, helped along by its 98 percent rating. But a bad score for a small film can help ensure that it will close quickly, or play in fewer cities overall. Its potential box office earnings, in turn, will inevitably take a hit.

A scene from Get Out

Yet when it comes to blockbusters, franchises, and other big studio films (which usually open in many cities at once), it’s much less clear how much a film’s Rotten Tomatoes score affects its box office tally. A good Rotten Tomatoes score, for example, doesn't necessarily guarantee a film will be a hit. Atomic Blonde is “guaranteed fresh,” with a 77 percent rating, but it didn‘t do very well at the box office despite being an action film starring Charlize Theron.

Still, studios certainly seem to believe the score makes a difference . Last summer, studios blamed Rotten Tomatoes scores (and by extension, critics) when poorly reviewed movies like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales , Baywatch , and The Mummy performed below expectations at the box office. ( Pirates still went on to be the year’s 19th highest-grossing film.)

2017’s highest grossing movies in the US

But that correlation doesn’t really hold up. The Emoji Movie , for example, was critically panned, garnering an abysmal 6 percent Rotten Tomatoes score. But it still opened to $25 million in the US, which put it just behind the acclaimed Christopher Nolan film Dunkirk . And the more you think about it, the less surprising it is that plenty of people bought tickets to The Emoji Movie in spite of its bad press: It's an animated movie aimed at children that faced virtually no theatrical competition, and it opened during the summer, when kids are out of school. Great reviews might have inflated its numbers, but almost universally negative ones didn't seem to hurt it much.

It's also worth noting that many films with low Rotten Tomatoes scores that also perform poorly in the US (like The Mummy or The Great Wall ) do just fine overseas, particularly in China. The Mummy gave Tom Cruise his biggest global opening ever . If there is a Rotten Tomatoes effect, it seems to only extend to the American market.

Without any consistent proof, why do people still maintain that a bad Rotten Tomatoes score actively hurts a movie at the box office?

While it’s clear that a film’s Rotten Tomatoes score and box office earnings aren't correlated as strongly as movie studios might like you to think, blaming bad ticket sales on critics is low-hanging fruit.

Plenty of people would like you to believe that the weak link between box office earnings and critical opinion proves that critics are at fault for not liking the film, and that audiences are a better gauge of its quality. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, co-star of Baywatch , certainly took that position when reviews of the 2017 bomb Baywatch came out:

Oh boy, critics had their venom & knives ready . Fans LOVE the movie. Huge positive scores. Big disconnect w/ critics & people. #Baywatch — Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) May 26, 2017

Baywatch ended up with a very comfortably rotten 19 percent Tomatometer score , compared to a just barely fresh 62 percent audience score. But with apologies to The Rock, who I’m sure is a very nice man, critics aren't weather forecasters or pundits, and they’re not particularly interested in predicting how audiences will respond to a movie. (We are also a rather reserved and nerdy bunch, not regularly armed with venom and knives.) Critics show up where they’re told to show up and watch a film, then go home and evaluate it to the best of their abilities.

The obvious rejoinder, at least from a critic’s point of view, is that if Baywatch was a better movie, there wouldn’t be such a disconnect. But somehow, I suspect that younger ticket buyers — an all-important demographic — lacked nostalgia for 25-year-old lifeguard TV show, and thus weren't so sure about seeing Baywatch in the first place. Likewise, I doubt that a majority of Americans were ever going to be terribly interested in the fifth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise (which notched a 30 percent Tomatometer score and a 64 percent audience score), especially when they could just watch some other movie.

A pile-up of raves for either of these films might have resulted in stronger sales, because people could have been surprised to learn that a film they didn’t think they were interested in was actually great. But with lackluster reviews, the average moviegoer just had no reason to give them a chance.

Big studio publicists, however, are paid to convince people to see their films, not to candidly discuss the quality of the films themselves. So when a film with bad reviews flops at the box office, it’s not shocking that studios are quick to suggest that critics killed it.

How do movie studios try to blunt the perceived impact when they’re expecting a bad Rotten Tomatoes score?

Of late, some studios — prompted by the idea that critics can kill a film’s buzz before it even comes out — have taken to “ fighting back ” when they’re expecting a rotten Tomatometer score.

Their biggest strategy isn’t super obvious to the average moviegoer, but very clear to critics. When a studio suspects it has a lemon on its hands, it typically hosts the press screening only a day or two ahead of the film's release, and then sets a review “embargo” that lifts a few hours before the film hits theaters.

what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

Consider, for example, the case of the aforementioned Emoji Movie . I and most other critics hoped the movie would be good, as is the case with all movies see. But once the screening invitations arrived in our inboxes, we pretty much knew, with a sinking feeling, that it wouldn’t be. The tell was pretty straightforward: The film’s only critics' screening in New York was scheduled for the day before it opened. It screened for press on Wednesday night at 5 pm, and then the review embargo lifted at 3 pm the next day — mere hours before the first public showtimes.

Late critics’ screenings for any given film mean that reviews of the film will necessarily come out very close to its release, and as a result, people purchasing advance tickets might buy them before there are any reviews or Tomatometer score to speak of. Thus, in spite of there being no strong correlation between negative reviews and a low box office, its first-weekend box returns might be less susceptible to any potential harm as a result of bad press. (Such close timing can also backfire; critics liked this summer's Captain Underpants , for example, but the film was screened too late for the positive reviews to measurably boost its opening box office.)

That first-weekend number is important, because if a movie is the top performer at the box office (or if it simply exceeds expectations, like Dunkirk and Wonder Woman did this summer), its success can function as good advertising for the film, which means its second weekend sales may also be stronger. And that matters , particularly when it means a movie is outperforming its expectations, because it can actually shift the way industry executives think about what kinds of movies people want to watch. Studios do keep an eye on critics’ opinions, but they’re much more interested in ticket sales — which makes it easy to see why they don’t want risk having their opening weekend box office affected by bad reviews, whether there’s a proven correlation or not.

The downside of this strategy, however, is that it encourages critics to instinctively gauge a studio’s level of confidence in a film based on when the press screening takes place. 20th Century Fox, for instance, screened War for the Planet of the Apes weeks ahead of its theatrical release, and lifted the review embargo with plenty of time to spare before the movie came out. The implication was that Fox believed the movie would be a critical success, and indeed, it was — the movie has a 97 percent Tomatometer score and an 86 percent audience score.

And still, late press screenings fail to account for the fact that, while a low Rotten Tomatoes score doesn’t necessarily hurt a film’s total returns, aggregate review scores in general do have a distinct effect on second-weekend sales. In 2016, Metacritic conducted a study of the correlation between its scores and second weekend sales , and found — not surprisingly — that well-reviewed movies dip much less in the second weekend than poorly reviewed movies. This is particularly true of movies with a strong built-in fan base, like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice , which enjoyed inflated box office returns in the first weekend because fans came out to see it, but dropped sharply in its second weekend, at least partly due to extremely negative press .

Most critics who are serious about their work make a good-faith effort to approach each film they see with as few expectations as possible. But it's hard to have much hope about a movie when it seems obvious that a studio is trying to play keep-away with it. And the more studios try to game the system by withholding their films from critics, the less critics are inclined to enter a screening devoid of expectations, however subconscious.

If you ask critics what studios ought to do to minimize the potential impact of a low Rotten Tomatoes score, their answer is simple: Make better movies. But of course, it’s not that easy; some movies with bad scores do well, while some with good scores still flop. Hiding a film from critics might artificially inflate first-weekend box office returns, but plenty of people are going to go see a franchise film, or a superhero movie, or a family movie, no matter what critics say.

The truth is that neither Rotten Tomatoes nor the critics whose evaluations make up its scores are really at fault here, and it’s silly to act like that’s the case. The website is just one piece of the sprawling and often bewildering film landscape.

As box office analyst Scott Mendelson wrote at Forbes :

[Rotten Tomatoes] is an aggregate website, one with increased power because the media now uses the fresh ranking as a catch-all for critical consensus, with said percentage score popping up when you buy tickets from Fandango or rent the title on Google Market. But it is not magic. At worst, the increased visibility of the site is being used as an excuse by ever-pickier moviegoers to stay in with Netflix or VOD.

For audience members who want to make good moviegoing decisions, the best approach is a two-pronged one. First, check Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic to get a sense of critical consensus. But second, find a few critics — two or three will do — whose taste aligns with (or challenges) your own, and whose insights help you enjoy a movie even more. Read them and rely on them.

And know that it’s okay to form your own opinions, too. After all, in the bigger sense, everyone’s a critic.

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Rotten Tomatoes Ratings System: The Complete Guide

what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

In the ever-evolving world of cinema, Rotten Tomatoes has emerged as a pivotal player in how movies are perceived and received.

This review aggregation website has become a go-to source for many moviegoers, offering a quick glance at a film’s overall reception.

It synthesizes the opinions of critics and audiences into a single, accessible metric, influencing viewers’ choices and the industry at large.

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings system, with its unique “Tomatometer” and audience scores, has reshaped the landscape of movie reviews and box office success.


What is the rotten tomatoes ratings system.

Rotten Tomatoes employs a ratings system that categorizes films into “Fresh” or “Rotten” based on critic reviews. A film is considered “Fresh” if it receives more positive reviews than negative ones.

The Tomatometer score, displayed as a percentage, reflects the proportion of positive reviews a movie has received from accredited critics.

For instance, a film like Toy Story 3 boasts a high Tomatometer score, indicating widespread critical acclaim.

Since its inception in 1998, Rotten Tomatoes has grown to become the most popular movie review site on the internet.

Across this platform, professional and amateur critics alike offer their opinions of movies they have seen recently or from years past.

This includes a film’s quality rating which is determined by dividing the number of positive reviews by all reviews written for that particular movie; however, many people are unaware of how exactly this process works.

How Does Rotten Tomatoes Work?

At its core, Rotten Tomatoes functions by collating reviews from accredited film critics. Each review is classified as “Fresh” or “Rotten” based on the critic’s assessment. The Tomatometer score is then calculated as the percentage of “Fresh” reviews out of the total number.

A significant aspect of the system is the minimum review requirement; a movie must receive a certain number of reviews (the number varies for wide releases vs. limited releases) to be assigned a Tomatometer score.

what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

To earn the “Certified Fresh” status, a film must consistently maintain a high Tomatometer score and meet additional criteria including a minimum review count, with a requisite portion coming from “Top Critics.”

Rotten Tomatoes Ratings System

The Rotten Tomatoes rating system includes two key scores: the Tomatometer and the Audience Score.

The Tomatometer score, determined by professional critics, classifies films as “Fresh” or “Rotten” based on the percentage of positive reviews. A film like “Toy Story 3” with a high score is indicative of widespread critical acclaim.

On the other hand, the Audience Score reflects the opinions of regular moviegoers, providing a more populist perspective on a film’s appeal.

This audience-driven score is calculated from the ratings submitted by verified users and is presented as the percentage of audiences who have rated the film positively.

Rotten Tomatoes – Historical Context

Since its inception in 1998, Rotten Tomatoes has evolved significantly. The site started as a simple collection of movie reviews but has grown into a major aggregator, influencing viewers’ and critics’ perceptions of films.

Its acquisition by Fandango in 2016 marked a significant shift, integrating the platform more closely with movie ticket sales and expanding its influence.

Over the years, Rotten Tomatoes has adapted to changing media landscapes and audience behaviors, remaining a key player in how films are rated and reviewed.

Certified Fresh Rotten Tomatoes Score

The “Certified Fresh” designation is a mark of high quality and consistent positive reviews. To earn this badge, a film must have a steady Tomatometer score of 75% or higher after a set number of reviews, including a certain amount from Top Critics.

This status is a hallmark of excellence and often used in marketing materials.

Films like “The Dark Knight” have proudly displayed their “Certified Fresh” status, signifying their exceptional reception.

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score

Alongside the Tomatometer, the Audience Score offers a perspective on the viewer’s reception of a film.

This score is calculated from the ratings submitted by verified users and presented as a percentage of audiences who rated the film favorably.

This metric provides a sense of how a movie resonates with the general public, complementing the critics’ reviews.

Movies like “The Greatest Showman,” which garnered mixed critical reviews but was beloved by audiences, illustrate the divergence that can occur between critic and audience opinions.

Is Rotten Tomatoes Good For Movies?

The influence of Rotten Tomatoes on the film industry is significant. Its scores can impact a movie’s marketing strategy and audience turnout.

While some argue that the aggregation simplifies the nuanced opinions into a binary system, potentially skewing public perception, others appreciate the straightforward, accessible summary of a film’s reception.

The platform has become a powerful tool for viewers to gauge whether a movie is worth their time and money.

Methodology Of Critic Selection For Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes employs a selective process for including critics in its aggregation system. The site categorizes critics into two groups: “All Critics” and “Top Critics.”

To be considered, critics must be affiliated with a recognized publication or have a proven track record in film criticism.

This includes writers for major newspapers, notable online publications, and recognized freelance critics.

what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

The “Top Critics” category is more selective, including those from major publications like The New York Times, The Guardian, or significant industry-related magazines.

Rotten Tomatoes continuously evaluates and updates its list of critics to ensure a diverse and comprehensive representation of viewpoints.

This methodology aims to provide a balanced and authoritative assessment of films, although it has faced criticism over representation and inclusivity in its selection of critics.

Impact Of Rotten Tomatoes On Movie Marketing

The influence of Rotten Tomatoes on movie marketing is profound. A high Tomatometer score can be a significant marketing tool, often prominently featured in movie trailers and advertisements.

Conversely, a low score can lead studios to adjust their marketing strategies, sometimes reducing the promotional budget or shifting focus to other aspects like star power or genre appeal.

In extreme cases, studios might limit pre-release screenings to delay the aggregation of reviews on the site, thereby managing potential negative impact.

The “Certified Fresh” badge, in particular, is a coveted status, often used in marketing materials to attract audiences looking for quality assurance.

This dynamic has led to a growing debate within the industry about the power wielded by Rotten Tomatoes and its potential to unfairly sway audience perceptions before a film’s release.

User Interaction On Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes not only aggregates critic reviews but also encourages active user interaction. Users can rate movies on a scale from 0.5 to 5 stars, and these ratings contribute to the Audience Score.

This feature democratizes film criticism, allowing everyday viewers to voice their opinions alongside professional critics. Users can also write full reviews, engage in discussions, and create personal lists of favorites.

The site incorporates these user ratings into its overall presentation of a film’s reception, offering a more holistic view that includes both critic and audience perspectives.

However, this system has been subject to manipulation attempts, such as review bombing, where groups of people intentionally lower a film’s audience score due to controversies or fan-driven campaigns.

Rotten Tomatoes has implemented measures to counteract such issues, emphasizing the importance of genuine audience engagement.

Criticism Of Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes has faced its share of criticism. One major concern is the potential negative impact of a low Tomatometer score on a film’s box office performance.

Critics also point out potential biases in the critic selection process and the oversimplification of reducing complex film critiques to a single numerical score.

The platform has been accused of influencing public opinion disproportionately, potentially discouraging viewers from watching films with moderate scores.

Influence On The Film Industry

Rotten Tomatoes’ ratings have a notable impact on audience decisions and box office numbers. High scores can significantly boost a movie’s appeal and marketing, while low scores might deter audiences.

The site’s influence extends to shaping public discourse around films, often becoming a reference point in discussions about a movie’s quality and success.

Comparison With Other Platforms

When compared with other review aggregation sites like Metacritic , Rotten Tomatoes stands out for its straightforward, binary rating system.

Metacritic, on the other hand, provides a weighted average score, potentially offering a more nuanced view of a film’s reception.

However, Rotten Tomatoes’ simplicity and the distinction between critic and audience scores make it a unique and influential platform in the film review landscape.

Rotten Tomatoes Rating System – Wrapping Up

Rotten Tomatoes has established itself as a pivotal component in the film industry, offering both moviegoers and professionals a comprehensive overview of a film’s reception.

Despite criticisms regarding its methodology and impact, its significance in shaping public opinion and box office outcomes is undeniable.

what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

Matt Crawford

Related posts, habitica: the app to make your habits rock solid, film tax credits: a complete guide, film investment: how the financial side of film investment can be calculated, how to get an agent the easy way (& the hard way), trello business: the free tool i use to monitor my clients, move them through the pipeline and never miss an appointment, tv of the future: what to expect.

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I use rotten tomatoes to get a feel of how a movie is. I read the critics reviews. If it’s really bad I won’t go see the movie. If it’s 50/50 I’ll take a chance and go see the movie. Who knows I might be part of the 50% that likes it.

what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

Good plan, Tonya!

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I rarely rely on rotten tomatoes finding it a popularity contest not a quality review of excellence. It simply doesn’t include all genres.

Fair comment, Patricia.

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How Does Rotten Tomatoes Work?

Everything to know about the movie and TV rating site and how they get their percentages.

While there is an overabundance of nuanced, interesting film criticism on the Internet, a majority of movie fans base their opinions on a film from the score that it received on Rotten Tomatoes. Criticism is much more contextual than a simple numerical score given to a title, but Rotten Tomatoes offers a simple rating that tends to get aggregated. There is an increasing number of instances when studios use a positive Rotten Tomatoes score as a marketing tool. The films that achieve the rare 100% “fresh rating” are put under a public spotlight, and similarly, the films that are labeled as “rotten ” with a 0% score tend to live in infamy. However, the process of determining a Rotten Tomatoes score is more complicated than it may seem.

Rotten Tomatoes is a great platform for movie fans to utilize if they understand the site’s purpose. In addition to listing extensive movie data like other databases such as IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes is connected through its parent company Fandango to allow for the purchase of theater tickets. Additionally, it serves as a great tool to follow individual critics, look up specific reviews, and interact with other movie lovers. However, averaging out a score is a complex process that includes outside factors that some users aren’t aware of.

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How Does Rotten Tomatoes' Rating System Work?

Rotten Tomatoes aggregates two primary ratings; there is a “% fresh” according to critics, and one according to audiences . The critical score, which is the primary number listed alongside a film, is the percentage of positive reviews that a film receives, with a minimum of five reviews needed to officially list on the “Tomatoemeter.” The audience score is determined by a five-star rating system that users submit when adding their custom reviews.

In order to be listed as an official critic, journalists must be a member of a writing guild, critic’s group, or have enough followers or “likes” on their platform before they can be admitted. There’s an exhaustive evaluation process that critics must fill out in order to be accepted. Each review is listed as either broadly positive or broadly negative and given either a fresh or rotten rating as a result. A blurb, rating, and score from the review are linked to the reviews section of each film’s page.

There is a slightly different process for television. TV shows are given their average rating in their entirety, with individual segments for specific episodes and seasons. The overall score is determined by the average of these. This can explain why certain shows that have noticeable trends in quality tend to rank a certain way. It may be strange that The Simpsons only has an 85% rating, even though the first eight seasons each scored 100% fresh, but it's because the number of standout episodes in the later seasons has declined.

Averages Vs. Consensus

While it may seem confusing that the score is simply a percentage of reviews and not an average, not every critic uses the same rating system. Some critics rate out of four or five stars, others give a letter grade, and some either have their own rating system or simply don’t assign a rating. It makes it impossible to create an average of different metrics. An average score listed alongside each film is included to give a rough estimate, and general summaries of the film’s reception written by the Rotten Tomatoes staff are also included.

This makes using the “Tomatometer” an occasionally flawed way to determine a film’s quality; the score is based on how many critics liked or disliked a film, but there’s no way to evaluate their enthusiasm. A film that is heralded with a high score (such as a 5/5 star or A+ grade) could be listed as positive, but so could a more mixed or passable response with an ambivalent rating (such as a ⅗ star or B- grade). Similarly, a film that is absolutely derided by a critic (such as a ⅕ star or F grade) could be listed as rotten alongside a more mixed or average response. As a result, films that are more divisive tend to fare worse, while those that are more broadly accepted as simply “good” tend to do very well, such as the recently released M3gan .

The “Tomatoemeter” itself takes into consideration the number of reviews for a given film when determining whether the film can be “certified fresh.” A wide-release film receives a “certified fresh” rating if it scores an average between 75% and 100% positive ratings based and has at least 80 reviews; limited-release titles only require 40 reviews. Five of these reviews must be from “top critics,” a group that includes journalists with a significant catalog, consistency, and following. These reviews can be singled out from the broad critical reviews in their own section.

What Is Rotten Tomatoes Good For?

Simply determining your opinion on whether or not a film is worth watching based on its score isn’t a great way to make decisions; film fans may be surprised to see the many beloved classics that are listed as “rotten,” such as Spaceballs, Constantine, The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, and The Mighty Ducks ; the same could be said in reverse, as the broadly disliked Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is “certified fresh” at 78%.

While some may note the difference between a film’s audience and critical scores as a sign that film critics are “out of touch,” they are using completely different metrics. Additionally, review bombing can be an issue, as some recent projects such as Star Wars: The Last Jedi and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power have been bombarded with hateful user reviews for including more diverse ensemble casts. Similar to any other consensus platform like IMDb or Letterboxd, there’s no way to determine whether someone has actually seen a film or series, or whether they’re a bot.

However, there are a number of upsides to Rotten Tomatoes. Having a broad range of reviews listed can allow fans to follow specific critics, or look up reviews that they may disagree with in order to get a different perspective. Nothing is as simple as a number, but cinephiles should be able to determine for themselves whether a film is “fresh” or “rotten.” At the end of the day, cinema is a subjective medium.

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what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

Daniel Choi is a writer who’s currently pursuing a BA in Film & Television from New York University. With a background in amateur film production, Daniel is fascinated by how artists’ cultural backgrounds inform their work, subconsciously or not, and how that work is then perceived by different audiences across time and space. He joined Hollywood Insider to promote its mission statement of substantive entertainment journalism, and hopes to enrich readers’ understandings of cinema through insightful analysis.

Dec 28, 2020

Table of Contents

Hollywood Insider Are Rotten Tomatoes Reviews Reliable, Movie Reviews, TV Reviews

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Before we waste our time and money sitting through an entire feature film or television series, we go online to check its ratings. Many of us probably have a mental threshold for what’s worth seeing–80%, maybe 70%. 60% is right on the cusp–that’s a film you might approach with dampened expectations. But is this the right way to go about things?

Like many modern fixtures of the internet, Rotten Tomatoes was once a novelty–it quickly became such an authoritative denominator of a film’s quality that a bad rating can tank box office performance. Good ratings, on the other hand, are now often featured in trailers.

Aggregate review sites such as Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic are excellent and useful tools for getting an idea of a work’s critical reception at a glance, but they’ve also shaped our ideas of what it means for a piece to be “good” or “bad,” for better or for worse. Ratings were never meant to be a conclusive evaluation of a film’s quality, but that seems to be the way that the general public looks at it. 

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For the most part, they tell you what you need to know. If a film has a rating of 17%, it’s probably not going to impress. Nevertheless, their percentage scores hide a lot of nuances that has simultaneously bolstered the collective power of critics while undermining the significance of the individual voice. In this article, I’m going to discuss the reasons why a percent rating shouldn’t be taken at face value, specifically in terms of Rotten Tomatoes, as that has become the most powerful locus of critical discussion of film and television.

Rotten Tomatoes: Thumbs-up or Thumbs-down

Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer score is calculated by simple division–the number of positive reviews over the total number of reviews. Becoming a Tomatometer-approved critic is an application-based process and no critic’s opinion is given more weight than any other. 

However, in order to calculate this basic percentage, Rotten Tomatoes simplifies each critic’s reviews–in the same way that a film is either “fresh” (exceeds 60% approval) or “rotten,” a critic’s review is either favorable or unfavorable. Hypothetically, a film to which every critic gives a rating of 3.5/5, for instance, would attain a Rotten Tomatoes score of 100%. It’s unlikely that this would occur outside of this hypothetical scenario, but is plausible nonetheless. 

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On the other end of the hypothetical spectrum is a film that garners deific praise from half of those who saw it, and abject disdain from the other half–a polarised reception. This film would receive an ultimate rating of 50%, which is commonly interpreted as a bad rating. 

If you look at contemporary reviews of what are now legendary films, many received polarised critical reception. 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly , for instance, would probably have received around 50% if Rotten Tomatoes were around, but are now considered exemplars of their genre. 

Their current Tomatometer ratings reflect the result of their re-evaluations, but will films of the present be granted the same amnesty moving forward? In this way, Rotten Tomatoes has solidified the film canon while casting immediate judgment on new releases, coloring their public perception prematurely.

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The Illusion Of Objectivity

Additionally, the fact that ratings are presented in the form of a percentage necessitates the comparison with schoolyard letter grades . With no evidence to back up this statement, I postulate that our deeply-ingrained concept of letter grades contributes to the ease with which we accept percentage ratings as indicators of quality.

Educators and pundits have long expressed the inadequacies of measuring student performance through summative assessment–causing students to focus more on earning a grade rather than learning the material, for instance, not to mention the impossibility of a subjective evaluation being translated objectively into a numerical value.

If it’s impossible for a teacher to objectively evaluate a 500-word essay, it’s impossible to put an objective numerical value on the quality of a film. However, that was never Rotten Tomatoes’ goal. Aggregating critical reviews is just a good way to get a finger-in-the-wind type of reading, but many people don’t care to look beyond that convenient, monolithic percentage. Its democratic approach to rating a film has contributed to a sense of objectivity, but the value of film criticism has always come from more than an objective, ultimate indictment.

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Pauline Kael , one of the most influential film critics of all time, is famous for her derision of the “ideal critic’s” aim of achieving objectivity, calling it “saphead objectivity.” Her reviews were grounded in her personal experience of the film, as opposed to the commonplace approach of technical, esoteric didacticism. Her style and philosophy were pivotal in the landscape of criticism and analysis, proving that a film couldn’t just be reduced to a technical examination of its craft.

Why Critics Aren’t As Credible

Today, fewer people read individual reviews than ever before. The open forum of the internet has done much to dispel classic notions of elitism, and people have shied away from critics who tell them what’s good and what’s bad–Pauline Kael was rebelling against the same thing decades ago. 

Furthermore, there has been a greater outcry in recent years about the lack of diversity among professional film critics, a point justly made. The opinion of the white male is less valuable in a world of film and television offering greater diversity and stories thereof.  

To read an individual review reveals these underlying issues, but taking that plethora of opinions and turning them into nameless “yays” or “nays” depersonalizes them. People aren’t trusting of singular opinions, but amass a bunch and it becomes a poll. The fact that Rotten Tomatoes offers an audience score furthers the idea that this is simply a populist approach to judging films. The question of what a film does right and what it does wrong is no longer relevant–the question is- how many people out of 100 liked it?   

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In his review of Spirited Away , Roger Ebert wrote, “Movies made for “everybody” is actually made for nobody in particular.” This quote has always stuck with me and seems to repudiate the philosophy that Rotten Tomatoes have nurtured–a “good” film is one that’s palatable to most people. 

It’s important to note that it was never the intention of Rotten Tomatoes to be a barometer of “quality,” but it seems to me that the Tomatometer score is often interpreted by the average person as such. In turn, it seems like studios make a greater effort to cater to their audience before the film even comes out.

It’s unfortunate that a website which aggregates reviews of films has wound up affecting the works that it only meant to discuss–it reminds me of an actor becoming self-conscious because a mirror is held up to their face. While ratings are certainly a useful tool, I only want to emphasize how it shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all of critical discussion.

By  Daniel Choi

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Daniel Choi

Daniel Choi is a writer who's currently pursuing a BA in Film & Television from New York University. With a background in amateur film production, Daniel is fascinated by how artists' cultural backgrounds inform their work, subconsciously or not, and how that work is then perceived by different audiences across time and space. He joined Hollywood Insider to promote its mission statement of substantive entertainment journalism, and hopes to enrich readers' understandings of cinema through insightful analysis.

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Decoding The Symbols: Understanding What The Rotten Tomatoes Ratings Mean

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what do the rotten tomatoes symbols mean

When it comes to film and television reviews, Rotten Tomatoes has become a household name. But have you ever wondered what those little symbols next to the movie or TV show ratings actually mean? Whether it's a juicy red tomato or a squished rotten tomato, these symbols hold the key to determining whether a film or show is worth your time. Join me as we delve into the world of Rotten Tomatoes and uncover the hidden meanings behind those iconic symbols.

What You'll Learn

What are the different symbols used by rotten tomatoes and what do they represent, how does rotten tomatoes determine the rating for a movie or tv show, are there any limitations or criticisms of the rotten tomatoes rating system, how do the symbols on rotten tomatoes, such as the certified fresh or rotten icons, affect the perception of a movie or show, can you explain the significance of the tomatometer score and how it relates to the symbols on rotten tomatoes.


Rotten Tomatoes is a popular website that aggregates reviews for movies and TV shows. It uses a variety of symbols to represent the reviews and give an overall score for each title. These symbols help viewers quickly understand the general consensus on a particular movie or show. Here are the different symbols used by Rotten Tomatoes and what they represent.

  • Certified Fresh: This symbol, denoted by a red tomato with a green background, indicates that a movie or TV show has received positive reviews from critics. To earn the "Certified Fresh" label, a title must have a Tomatometer rating of 75% or higher, with a minimum number of reviews.
  • Fresh: The Fresh symbol, also a red tomato, indicates that a movie or show has received mostly positive reviews. Titles with a Tomatometer rating between 60% and 74% are considered "Fresh."
  • Rotten: The Rotten symbol is represented by a green splat over a red tomato. It signifies that a movie or TV show has received mostly negative reviews. Titles with a Tomatometer rating below 60% are labeled as "Rotten."
  • Audience Score: In addition to the Tomatometer rating, Rotten Tomatoes also includes an Audience Score. This score represents the average rating given by verified audience members who have submitted reviews. The Audience Score is represented by popcorn tubs and can range from 0% to 100%. This score gives viewers an idea of how the general audience perceives a particular title.

It's important to note that the Tomatometer and Audience Score are separate metrics. The Tomatometer represents the opinions of critics, while the Audience Score reflects the opinions of general viewers. It is not uncommon for there to be a discrepancy between the two scores, as critics and audiences often have different tastes and preferences when it comes to movies and TV shows.

Rotten Tomatoes' use of symbols makes it easy for viewers to quickly understand the overall consensus on a movie or TV show. Whether it's the "Certified Fresh" label, the "Fresh" symbol, the "Rotten" splat, or the Audience Score, these symbols provide valuable information that can help viewers make informed decisions on what to watch.

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Rotten Tomatoes is a popular website that aggregates reviews from professional critics and calculates a rating for movies and TV shows based on those reviews. The website has become a go-to source for moviegoers and television enthusiasts who are looking for recommendations or simply want to gauge the critical reception of a particular film or show. But how exactly does Rotten Tomatoes determine the rating for a movie or TV show?

Rotten Tomatoes uses a unique system to calculate the rating called the Tomatometer. The Tomatometer is a percentage score that represents the overall positive reviews for a movie or TV show. A high percentage on the Tomatometer indicates that the film or show has received mostly positive reviews, while a low percentage indicates that it has received mostly negative reviews.

To determine the Tomatometer score, Rotten Tomatoes collects reviews from accredited critics, including professional journalists, bloggers, and other media members. These critics are carefully selected based on their expertise and credibility, ensuring that the reviews used to calculate the score come from trusted sources.

Once the reviews are collected, Rotten Tomatoes assigns each one a rating of either "fresh" or "rotten". A fresh rating indicates a positive review, while a rotten rating indicates a negative one. The rating is determined by the critic's overall opinion of the movie or TV show.

After assigning the fresh or rotten rating, Rotten Tomatoes calculates the overall percentage of positive reviews to determine the Tomatometer score. If a movie or TV show receives at least 60% positive reviews, it is considered "fresh" and receives a certified fresh badge. If the percentage falls below 60%, it is considered "rotten". The Tomatometer score is then displayed prominently on the movie or TV show's page on the Rotten Tomatoes website.

It's important to note that the Tomatometer score does not reflect the average rating of the reviews. For example, a movie or TV show with a 90% Tomatometer score does not mean that it received an average rating of 9 out of 10. Instead, it means that 90% of the reviews collected were positive.

While the Tomatometer score is a useful tool for quickly gauging critical reception, Rotten Tomatoes also provides additional information to help users make informed decisions. The website includes an Audience Score, which represents the percentage of Rotten Tomatoes users who rated the movie or TV show positively. This score can provide a different perspective, as it is based on the opinions of regular viewers rather than professional critics.

In conclusion, Rotten Tomatoes determines the rating for a movie or TV show by collecting reviews from accredited critics and assigning them a fresh or rotten rating. The overall percentage of positive reviews is then used to calculate the Tomatometer score. While the Tomatometer is a helpful tool, it's just one aspect of Rotten Tomatoes' comprehensive approach to providing valuable information to moviegoers and TV enthusiasts.

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Rotten Tomatoes is a popular movie and TV review aggregator that is widely used by both critics and audiences to determine the overall consensus on a particular film or TV show. While it is generally regarded as a useful tool for gauging the quality of a film or TV show, there are some limitations and criticisms that have been raised regarding the Rotten Tomatoes rating system.

One of the main criticisms of the Rotten Tomatoes rating system is its reliance on binary ratings, where a film or TV show is either classified as "fresh" or "rotten" based on whether its average rating is above or below a certain threshold. This binary system fails to capture nuance and can lead to misleading results. For example, a film with a rating of 6/10 can be classified as "rotten," despite having an overall positive reception from audiences and critics.

Another limitation of the Rotten Tomatoes rating system is that it does not take into account the intensity of the reviews. A film with a high percentage of positive reviews may have a lower average rating compared to a film with a lower percentage of positive reviews but higher average rating. This can distort the overall perception of a film's quality, as the average rating may be a more accurate representation of the critics' opinions than the percentage of positive reviews.

Furthermore, the Rotten Tomatoes rating system does not take into account the demographic breakdown of the reviews. While it provides an overall consensus on a film or TV show, it fails to acknowledge that different demographics may have varying opinions on a particular work. This can lead to a skewed representation of a film's quality and may not accurately reflect the opinions of specific demographics, such as minority groups or niche audiences.

Additionally, some critics argue that the Rotten Tomatoes rating system has an inherent bias towards mainstream blockbusters and popular films. This is because the system calculates the average rating by assigning equal weight to each review, regardless of the publication or the credibility of the critic. As a result, films with a larger number of reviews, such as big-budget Hollywood films, tend to have a higher average rating, even if some of the individual reviews may be negative. This can create a bias towards commercially successful films and may overlook smaller independent films that may have critical acclaim but a smaller number of reviews.

Despite these limitations and criticisms, the Rotten Tomatoes rating system remains a popular and influential tool for many moviegoers and TV viewers. It provides a general consensus on the quality of a film or TV show, which can be helpful for those looking for recommendations or to get an idea of the overall reception. However, it is important to approach the ratings with a critical eye and consider other factors, such as individual reviews and personal preferences, in order to make an informed decision about what to watch.

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When it comes to evaluating movies and TV shows, Rotten Tomatoes has become one of the most influential platforms. The website aggregates reviews from both professional critics and audience members, and assigns a score based on the percentage of positive reviews. However, it is not just the numerical score that holds power over the perception of a movie or show – the symbols used by Rotten Tomatoes, such as the Certified Fresh or Rotten icons, also play a significant role in shaping public opinion.

The Certified Fresh icon, represented by a red tomato, is a highly coveted symbol that signifies a movie or show has received positive reviews from critics and has achieved a certain threshold of overall approval. This symbol is accompanied by a numerical score, usually above 75%, which further reinforces the notion of quality. When a movie or show displays the Certified Fresh symbol, it instantly gains credibility in the eyes of the audience.

Conversely, the Rotten icon, represented by a green splatter, indicates that a movie or show has received negative reviews from critics and falls below the threshold of overall approval. This symbol is often accompanied by a score below 60%, which further cements the notion of a film's lack of quality. When a movie or show carries the Rotten icon, it can be seen as a warning sign for audiences to stay away.

These symbols have a psychological impact on viewers and influence their decision-making process. Seeing the Certified Fresh icon can create a sense of assurance and legitimacy, making viewers more inclined to watch the movie or show. On the other hand, the Rotten icon can create a sense of skepticism and doubt, leading viewers to opt-out of watching the content altogether.

The symbols themselves are visually striking and easy to understand, making them highly effective at grabbing the attention of potential viewers. The use of colors – red for Certified Fresh and green for Rotten – taps into the emotional associations we have with these colors. Red is often associated with positivity, success, and desirability, while green is associated with negativity, failure, and warning signs. This further reinforces the impact of the symbols on the perception of a movie or show.

Moreover, Rotten Tomatoes' symbols have become widely recognized and are frequently referenced in popular culture. They have become shorthand for the perceived quality of a movie or show, which has further solidified their influence on public perception. In today's digital age, audiences often rely on quick and easy ways to judge the worthiness of a movie or show, and these symbols provide exactly that.

However, while the symbols on Rotten Tomatoes can be helpful indicators, it is essential to approach them with caution. The symbols only represent aggregated reviews and may not necessarily align with an individual's personal taste. A movie or show that receives a Certified Fresh rating may still not resonate with every viewer, and a Rotten rating does not automatically make a film or show unwatchable. It is always important to consider individual preferences and interests when deciding what content to consume.

In conclusion, the symbols used by Rotten Tomatoes, such as the Certified Fresh or Rotten icons, play a significant role in the perception of a movie or show. They provide a quick and visually impactful way for audiences to judge the quality and desirability of content. However, it is crucial to remember that these symbols are just one piece of the puzzle and should be considered alongside personal preferences and interests.

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The Tomatometer score is a critical tool used by Rotten Tomatoes to measure the consensus of film and television reviews. It is a helpful way for audiences to gauge the overall reception and quality of a movie or TV show. The significance of the Tomatometer score lies in its ability to provide a snapshot of popular opinion among critics.

Rotten Tomatoes assigns a Tomatometer score to each movie or TV show based on the percentage of positive reviews it receives. A high Tomatometer score indicates that a larger percentage of critics have given positive reviews, while a low score suggests a larger percentage of negative reviews. For example, a movie with a Tomatometer score of 90% means that 90% of the reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes were positive.

Understanding the symbols associated with the Tomatometer score is important when interpreting the score. Rotten Tomatoes uses two symbols, the certified fresh tomato and a splattered green tomato, to visually represent a positive or negative review. A certified fresh tomato symbol is placed next to movies or TV shows with a Tomatometer score of 75% or higher, indicating a majority of positive reviews. On the other hand, a splattered green tomato symbol is used for movies or TV shows with a score below 75%, indicating a majority of negative reviews.

The certified fresh tomato symbol carries an added significance. In addition to having a Tomatometer score of 75% or higher, a movie or TV show must also have a minimum number of reviews (80 for wide releases and 40 for limited releases) to be considered certified fresh. This requirement helps to ensure that the positive reviews are not the result of a small sample size.

The Tomatometer score and its associated symbols allow audiences to quickly and easily assess the critical reception of a movie or TV show. Many viewers find it helpful to use the score as a starting point in deciding whether to watch something. However, it's important to remember that the score is based on the opinions of professional critics, and individual tastes may vary. It's always a good idea to read a variety of reviews and consider personal preferences when choosing what to watch.

In summary, the Tomatometer score and its symbols on Rotten Tomatoes are significant because they provide a reliable measure of critical consensus. The score helps audiences determine if a movie or TV show has received predominantly positive or negative reviews. By using the certified fresh tomato and splattered green tomato symbols, Rotten Tomatoes makes it easy for viewers to quickly assess the critical reception of a film or television program. However, it's essential to remember that personal preferences may differ, and reading a variety of reviews can provide a more comprehensive understanding of a movie or TV show.

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Frequently asked questions.

The Certified Fresh symbol on Rotten Tomatoes indicates that a movie or TV show has received positive reviews from a certain number of professional critics. To be Certified Fresh, a movie must have a Tomatometer score of 75% or higher, with at least 40 reviews from approved critics, including 5 Top Critics.

The Fresh symbol on Rotten Tomatoes means that a movie or TV show has received positive reviews from professional critics. However, unlike Certified Fresh, there is no specific threshold for the percentage of positive reviews required to receive the Fresh symbol.

The Rotten symbol on Rotten Tomatoes means that a movie or TV show has received mostly negative reviews from professional critics. To receive the Rotten symbol, a movie must have a Tomatometer score of 59% or lower.

The Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes is the percentage of Rotten Tomatoes users who have rated a movie or TV show positively. It is a separate rating from the Tomatometer score, which is based on reviews from professional critics.

The Critics Consensus on Rotten Tomatoes is a summary of the general critical consensus for a movie or TV show. While it may not be as important as individual reviews, it can give a general idea of the overall critical reception. Some users find it helpful in determining whether or not to watch a particular title.


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IMDb vs. Rotten Tomatoes vs. Metacritic: Which Movie Ratings Site Is Best?

IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, and Metacritic are the three most popular ratings sites for movies, but they aren't all equal.

Thanks to online ratings, it's easier than ever to know whether or not a movie is worth watching. A quick Google search brings up plenty of websites offering their opinions on the latest films.

The three most popular are IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, and Metacritic. But how do these sites differ, and which should you trust for information on movies? Here's everything you need to know.

The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is a gigantic compendium of movies, TV shows, and video games. Its primary use is to find detailed information about any actor, producer, or piece of media content.

When you pull up a movie, you'll see a synopsis, trailers, photos, a cast list, trivia, and much more. What makes IMDb so useful is its cross-referencing. Upon opening the page for an actor, you'll see their best-known roles. Thus, IMDb is great for those "what else have I seen her in?" moments.

The IMDb mobile app takes this a step further. If you create an account and give ratings to movies and other media, you'll see a You may know them from field on an actor's page if you've rated something they appeared in.

With a free IMDb account, you can also create a Watchlist of movies you want to see. Along with contributing to the 10-point rating scale with other users, IMDb has many other useful features to offer if you're interested.

Pros of IMDb

Unlike the other two sites, IMDb's reviews come solely from users. It only takes a minute to sign up for IMDb and leave a review, so there's little barrier to entry.

Thus, IMDb's biggest strength is that its scores gives you a good idea of what normal consumers think of it. Professional critics have no influence on IMDb scores.

IMDb has a weighted average system to prevent users from rigging the score, but the service doesn't make it clear exactly how this works. Click the review count next to the star icon on any movie's page to see a breakdown of how people rated it.

Below the overall star average, you can see how the ratings break down by a few demographics, including age and gender.

Cons of IMDb

IMDb's biggest problem is that like other platforms, most people only leave reviews if they love or hate a film. Thus, this skews the scores in favor of either fanboys or haters.

People who want to boost a movie's perception will likely rate the movie a 10, while those who didn't like it will give a rating of one. This means you should read a handful of reviews to get a full picture of the movie's quality.

Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes is a trusted source for movie reviews sourced from critics. Every movie uses the "Tomatometer" to score the quality of a film. If the critic liked the movie, a red tomato appears by their review. When they don't like it, you'll see a green splat instead.

As long as 60 percent or more of critics like the movie, it earns an overall Fresh score with a red tomato. If under 60 percent of critics rate the movie favorably, it earns a Rotten score with a green splat.

Meanwhile, a Certified Fresh badge appears next to titles that are of particularly high quality. They must hold at least a 75 percent favorable score after 80 reviews, including at least five from top critics.

Open any movie's page, and you'll see the overall score plus its number of reviews at the top. Click See Score Details for a deeper breakdown. The Critics Consensus , present for most movies, is a great summary of why the movie received its score.

Rotten Tomatoes also providers a user score, shown by the popcorn bucket. When at least 60 percent of users rated it 3.5 stars (out of 5) or higher, it shows a full bucket. A tipped-over bucket represents that under 60 percent of users gave it under 3.5 stars. Since you can use half-star ratings, this is close to the IMDb score.

In 2019, Rotten Tomatoes made some changes to reduce "review bombing" of movies. There's no longer a Want to See percentage, and you'll also see a check next to user reviews where the site has confirmed that the person actually bought a ticket to the movie.

At the bottom of a movie's page, you can read excerpts from the critic reviews, filter by fresh or rotten, or only show top critics. Search for your favorite actors, and you can check the scores of films they appeared in.

Related: Sites Like Rotten Tomatoes to Find Average Ratings and Reviews for Anything

Pros of Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes has the advantage of sourcing its reviews from trusted critics. The Rotten Tomatoes criteria page explains that the site only takes reviews from trusted newspapers, podcasts, and websites. In theory, this means that only the opinions of the most-trusted movie critics influence the Rotten Tomatoes review.

The Top Critic designation lets you filter by the absolute best critics if you prefer. You can't get a more professional opinion than from these folks.

Overall, Rotten Tomatoes does a good job of letting you know at a glance whether or not a movie is worth your time. The easily identifiable icons, overall score, and consensus summary only take a moment to scan.

Cons of Rotten Tomatoes

The biggest issue with Rotten Tomatoes is that it breaks down complex opinions into a Yes or No score. It scores a critic who thought the movie was decent but had some flaws (say, a 59 percent rating) the same as one who thought the movie was absolute garbage (a zero percent score).

You'll notice this with the Average Rating under the score. Take Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle as an example. Of the 232 critic reviews, 177 of them are positive. This gives the movie a score of 76 percent. However, the critics rated the movie an average of 6.2/10---quite a bit under the 76 percent displayed on the page.

This doesn't mean the scores on Rotten Tomatoes are useless, of course. But it's important to remember that there's nuance in individual reviews, and the Fresh/Rotten system effectively turns every rating into a 100 or 0 score.

Metacritic aggregates reviews of movies and TV shows, plus video games and music albums. It's one of the best sites for gamers , but it can give you a good idea on the quality of movies too.

The site collects reviews from many sources and aggregates them into one "metascore" from 0 to 100. It displays a color and one-line indication of quality based on the overall score, with the following used for movies, TV, and albums:

  • 81-100: Universal Acclaim (Green)
  • 61-80: Generally Favorable Reviews (Green)
  • 40-60: Mixed or Average Reviews (Yellow)
  • 20-39: Generally Unfavorable Reviews (Red)
  • 0-19: Overwhelming Dislike (Red)

Unlike Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic uses a weighted average system. Nobody knows the exact details, but the service assigns more importance to some sources than others. Like the other two sites, Metacritic also includes a separate user score, which does not influence the critic score.

The Pros of Metacritic

Metacritic avoids the Rotten Tomatoes problem of scoring every review as simply "good" or "bad." A review of 50 percent gets mixed in with the rest to create the metascore. Thus, the score you see on Metacritic is closer to the average review, as opposed to the percentage of critics who simply liked the movie on Rotten Tomatoes.

Additionally, among these three sites, Metacritic is the only one to feature full user reviews right next to critic reviews. This makes it easy to compare what the general public thinks compared to the professionals.

The Cons of Metacritic

While it's easy to translate a score from a five-star or 10-point scale, Metacritic's way of translating letter grade is questionable. We can see how this works on the About Metascores page :

While scoring an A as 100 percent makes sense, note the scores for B- and F , for instance. A 67 percent score for a B- seems a bit harsh. In most schools, a score of 67 percent is closer to an F than it is a B- .

And scoring an F as 0 percent seems unfair. Something like 20 percent for an F might be more appropriate. Because every site has different scales for scoring (some might not even use pluses and minuses), this could skew a reviewer's original meaning.

Also, unlike Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic seems to have few public standards. There's no detailed information on where it sources it critics from. Thus, the score potentially doesn't have as much weight behind it as Rotten Tomatoes does.

What Is the Best Movie Rating Website?

So we've now taken a look at IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, and Metacritic, and listed their major pros and cons. As you might have guessed, there's no one website that's best for everything.

However, we can recommend each of these sites for different reasons:

  • IMDb is great for seeing what general audiences think of a movie. If you don't care what the critics say and want to see what people like yourself thought of a film, then you should use IMDb. Just be aware that fans often skew the vote with 10-star ratings, which may inflate scores somewhat.
  • Rotten Tomatoes offers the best overall picture of whether a movie is worth seeing at a glance. If you only trust the opinions of top critics and just want to know if a movie is at least decent, you should use Rotten Tomatoes. While the Fresh/Rotten binary can oversimplify the often complex opinions of critics, it should still help you weed out lousy films.
  • Metacritic offers the most balanced aggregate score. If you don't mind which critics' opinions go into the final score and prefer seeing a general average, then you should use Metacritic. Its standards are mostly unknown, but Metacritic makes it easy to compare professional and user reviews side-by-side.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with checking all three of these sites every time you're thinking of seeing a movie. Over time, you should figure out which site's tastes most match yours; then you'll know which is best for you personally.

Personal Taste Still Matters Most

Remember that movie scores aren't everything. All three of these sites don't, for instance, paint an accurate picture of movies that are so bad they're good. Because those movies are objectively terrible, they carry low scores even though they have ironic value.

Plus, it's impossible to sum up complex opinions from dozens of people into a single number. And no matter what the critics or general public think, your preferences might be totally different anyway. There's nothing wrong with enjoying a movie that most people find stupid. So while these sites are helpful, don't take them too seriously.

Is Rotten Tomatoes a Reliable Source for Movie Reviews?


A place to share knowledge and better understand the world.

what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

Has Rotten Tomatoes become less reliable in recent years? originally appeared on Quora : the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Mark Hughes , Screenwriter, Film Critic, on Quora :

I’m a critic featured on Rotten Tomatoes (RT) , and I do think it serves a purpose similar to Siskel and Ebert giving “thumbs up/thumbs down” for films — you don’t get the nuances or the degree of approval, but you at least get a quick snapshot of whether a majority of reviewers are claiming a film is good or bad. There are flaws to the counting, and there are problems with how people are interpreting the data, but as an aggregate, the site offers a limited way to see if a film is mostly accepted or mostly rejected by film reviewers, and if you use the Top Critics option then you’ll be able to narrow it down to the reviewers who are generally considered more reliable and who offer more detailed assessments of the films if you want to then check out the specifics of their “Fresh” or “Rotten” scoring of the film.

I realize that most folks don’t know the site actually does offer reviewers additional options — we don’t just have to pick “Fresh” or “Rotten,” we can also add star ratings or a point-ratings to each film, and the site provides that to users so you can look at more nuanced data for the film’s average scores and average star ratings. Which means, if you look at the overall RT score, then the stars and points, then the average user rating of the film, you actually can get a broader set of information. Then you can narrow it down to Top Critics for at least what is considered the more reliable and reputable reviewers, and also look at their pull-quotes summarizing their opinions of the film, and you can even see their full reviews.

That’s why I’m less critical of the site itself per se and what it really tries to accomplish, and I’m far more critical of the way reviewers (sadly, particularly fan site bloggers who seem more inclined toward hyperbole and clickbait motivations) and users of the site that are increasingly making RT less helpful and less reliable. How do critics and users adversely affect the reliability and reputation of the site? Let me explain four key ways this happens:

  • Some critics who are on RT literally don’t even know how to enter their data into it. At least one critic wasn’t aware he was supposed to select “Fresh” or “Rotten” from the dropdown menu, and was just adding his pull-quote and a star rating, which the site then (in absence of him also selecting “Fresh” or “Rotten”) compared to the average scores for that film and apparently used it to select “Fresh” or “Rotten” on his behalf. He was complaining that sometimes the site’s choice of “Fresh” or “Rotten” didn’t conform to his intent in his review.
  • Some critics intentionally created “Fresh” or “Rotten” scores before even really seeing the film — most famously, a Top Critic on the site once bragged about adding a negative review/rating of a film just to anger fans of the director (Christopher Nolan) and to ruin the film’s perfect 100% rating at the time. Many people complained, and I personally reported him to the site for ranking a film without seeing it (he admitted not having seen it yet, when he was bragging about ruining its score) and he was demoted from RT for his behavior.
  • Some critics give films “Fresh” or “Rotten” scores based not on their actual feelings, but simply to stand out from what other critics are saying, in order to get more clicks on their articles. Some professional reviewers admit to having mixed feelings about a movie and therefore waiting to see what most other critics rate the film before deciding whether to give it a positive or negative review. Some have given films a positive review but with enough complaints sprinkled throughout to justify giving it a “Rotten” score, because negative reviews tend to get more readership than positive ones. This is far more common than you might suspect, despite many film critics insisting they aren’t influenced by anything except their artistic assessment of a film. There’s no reason to believe that all other forms of journalism are influenced by ulterior motives, agendas, personal animosity/support, etc, but somehow entertainment journalism is magically and singularly immune to any such untoward influences.
  • A large portion of RT users utterly fail to understand what the ratings even mean, and think the score is an average of the overall critical grading of the film. I’ve had extended, often heated debates with people — including actual film critics — who fail to grasp the way the score actually works, or who understands the basic mechanics of it but still make absurd arguments insisting that the numbers accurately represent the level of quality of the film in terms of “percentage of quality.”

The score is equivalent to asking 100 people to raise their right hand if they thought a film was good, and then counting the number who raised their right hand. The number doesn’t tell you how much they liked it, and the number is skewed by some people accidentally raising their left hand instead of their right hand, and a few people who liked it but refused to raise their hand because they wanted to change the outcome of the vote, and then everyone watching this vote assumes that the final number of people who raised their hand is a percentage equivalent to a letter grade in school (where 50% is an F, 75% is a C, and 90% is an A, reflecting literal quality of the film).

So at the end of the day, regardless of the site’s intentions, the final outcome is inevitably driven by the critics and users. Which is why the above problems that are increasingly common at RT, are making the overall value of the scores increasingly dubious for anything that falls outside of the 90+% range or the 45-% range.

I think the fix to this is relatively easy — RT should require reviewers to not just pick “Fresh” or “Rotten,” but to instead use a little sliding scale (literally, a horizontal line with a little tomato icon we can slide back and forth, left and right) where we move it into “Fresh” or “Rotten” territory and we control how far into either territory we set it. This sliding scale would replace stars or grades, etc. from reviewers, and would be the single metric for measuring “freshness” and “rottenness.” Then, for the overall score for the film, the site can show the final overall RT average percentage, with an image of the rotten or fresh tomato sitting on an image of a sliding scale (the tomato would be positioned above the average percentage number from all reviews). It’s a cool visual that quickly demonstrates both the final verdict (positive or negative) plus the degree of positivity or negativity (i.e. an equivalent “grade”).

Let me demonstrate with some images…

what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

In the above image (my bad iPhone doodle rendering), the black blob near the top-middle is supposed to be a little tomato icon; you’d click on it and slide it left or right (“Rotten” or “Fresh”), and it would change to either a ripe tomato or a green splat tomato depending on which percentage-score line you place the tomato icon over. Reviewers would use this little sliding scale on the page where we also add our quote blurb and the link to our full review, and then we’d submit it once everything is where we want it.

Then, the main page for a film would then change the current “Fresh” or “Rotten” Tomatometer images (here’s a sample of one)…

what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

So that the Tomatometer has the icon image of "Fresh" or "Rotten" and the corresponding final percentage of reviewers who approve of the film, and directly below that would be the “Reviews Counted” and breakdown of number of fresh reviews and rotten reviews. Then, the “Average Rating” portion (currently sitting right below the icon and %) would be moved to the bottom (below the “Reviews Counted” breakdown), and instead of a set of numbers, the average rating would be demonstrated with a small sliding scale icon (like the one in my awful doodle above) where the little tomato image sitting above the average percentage rating by all reviewers.

Alternately, maybe the very best option is to use the sliding scale concept as the new single Tomatometer, and do away completely with the current system of “how many reviewers said it’s good, how many said it’s bad.” After all, you get that basic info — but in more nuanced form, requiring doing the math yourself to figure out the pure “what percentage of people said it’s good” number — via the “Reviews Counted” data provided under the Tomatometer icon. But I suspect people like the idea of a simple “do most people say it’s good” measurement instead of “ how good do most people say it is” measurement. The funny thing is, whichever of those questions you ask first, usually, inevitably, most folks will then follow up with the other question for more clarity. Thus I believe it’s worthwhile to have a simple visual representation for both concepts, and then at a glance you’ll find out (a) did most people like it or hate it? and (b) how much did most people like it or hate it?

Moving to that method of scoring and visual representation would, I feel, instantly solve a lot of the problems — not just for how we interpret and use the data, but also fixing some of the clickbaiting by some reviewers, since they’d have to actively choose how far into negativity or positivity they’re willing to go, and that can affect their reputation so many would be inclined to avoid too much hyperbolic use of the sliding scale and might set it barely into one territory or the other (or set it dead-center to avoid taking a firm position either way, thus justifying writing a review that’s mixed and not overtly positive or negative, as they often do). It wouldn’t be perfect, but it’d be simple and easy to use/understand and make things much better, in my opinion.

This question originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter , Facebook , and Google+ . More questions:

  • Rotten Tomatoes : Which movie website is better: IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes?
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Rotten Tomatoes Changed The Role Of Film Critics. But Is That A Good Thing?

what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

Marquee announcing the opening of "Barbie" movie is pictured in Los Angeles California, on July 20, 2023. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP) (Photo by VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images) VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

Marquee announcing the opening of "Barbie" movie is pictured in Los Angeles California, on July 20, 2023. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP) (Photo by VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)

If you're of a certain age, and you love movies, when you think "movie critic", you probably picture Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert and their popular TV shows. Their iconic "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" made it clear what each of them thought about a film. In some ways, the movie review website Rotten Tomatoes is the opposite of Siskel and Ebert. Their viewers depended on the insights of two individuals that they trusted, and felt they knew. Rotten Tomatoes aggregates and averages reviews from lots of critics to assign a movie a number ranking, and declare it "fresh" or "rotten". Since its launch 25 years ago, it's become the the go to site for lots of potential movie goers, offering everything they need to decide whether or not a movie is worth seeing. But for a while now, there have been complaints about the way the site ranks films. And concerns that those rankings unfairly influence whether a movie succeeds or bombs. Host Scott Detrow talks to Lane Brown, who took the site to task in a recent article on Vulture, and film critic Jamie Broadnax, editor-in-chief of the culture site, Black Girl Nerds.

Watch CBS News

Rotten Tomatoes: Where movie reviews are fresh or rotten

March 4, 2018 / 10:04 AM EST / CBS News

Thanks to the internet, the views of movie critics nationwide are being forged into a single critical mass. Jim Axelrod shows us how it's done:

If the artwork in the lobby of this California tech company doesn't tip you off, take a walk down the hall, past the themed conference rooms, such as the "Casablanca" room.

Or listen in to the discussion at the morning meeting. "Our top movies are 'Black Panther' and … it's just 'Black Panther'!" said Zoey.


Welcome to the headquarters of Rotten Tomatoes.

Even as the entertainment industry gathers tonight to see which of this year's films the Academy thought best, this company may be re-shaping the way we go to the movies -- and how we choose what we see.

"Without a Rotten Tomatoes, I as an individual, I guess I'd have to go read a hundred reviews," said Paul Yanover, the president of Fandango -- the online ticket company that acquired Rotten Tomatoes two years ago.

"Perfect marriage here of a technology company and an entertainment company," he said.


More than a third of moviegoers now make checking Rotten Tomatoes the last thing they do before buying a ticket. The site aggregates dozens of reviews curated from thousands of company-approved critics, and calculates the percentage that are positive.

"We're democratizing that research, and then we are democratizing access to it through the internet," said Yanover.

Jeff Voris, a vice president at Rotten Tomatoes, explained: "A curator will go find a review, put it in the system, and then read it to determine, is it 'fresh' or 'rotten'? If they're not sure, then our process is we send it to three other curators on the team who all read it independently."

Yanover added, "If there's real uncertainty, we'll go to the source and say, 'You're not being clear. Are you recommending this movie, or are you not?'"


If 75% or more of the critics post positive reviews (like 97% did with "Black Panther"), the movie is "Certified Fresh."

A score of 60 to 74 on the "Tomatometer" (like "Beauty and the Beast," with 71%) only gets you a "Fresh."

What you are trying to avoid as a filmmaker is a number under 60. That gets a "Rotten" thrown at it.  


"50 Shades Freed," for instance, had a Tomatometer score of 12!

It's Siskel and Ebert for the digital age.

When asked how wigged out studios are by Rotten Tomatoes, Ethan Titleman, who works for the National Research Group (a polling firm that tracks industry trends), said, "I think they're scared. It's still that shortcut. 

"And you can agree or disagree with the reviewer, but really nothing beats seeing that score at the end to know, yeah, I wanna spend my money or I don't wanna spend my money on this movie."

And that's exactly what spooks the studios: The idea their marketing machines may not be as able to overcome bad reviews in the age of Rotten Tomatoes.


"Rotten Tomatoes came on the scene, and it wasn't the voice of individual reviewers that mattered; it was a collective voice of Rotten Tomatoes," said Michael Lynton, the former CEO of Sony Entertainment. "I do know people pay a lot of attention to it. And I do think it does have an effect on how a movie opens. And it certainly has an effect on what the legs of a picture are."

Perhaps that's why director Martin Scorsese recently called Rotten Tomatoes "hostile to serious filmmakers," in a column for the Hollywood Reporter :

"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."

"It's a very oversimplified system -- fresh/rotten" remarked Claudia Puig, president of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, who sees more negative than positive with Rotten Tomatoes. "And there's a lot more nuance in film criticism. There's a lot more nuance in people's appreciation of film. I wish that there were more categories -- that there was, you know, a slightly overcooked tomato, a slightly raw tomato!"


Even with her issues with Rotten Tomatoes, Puig is still one of their top reviewers.

It seems there's no disputing the website's influence these days. "Certainly, studios are thinking, 'How are we going to reach the largest amount of people? How are we going to make the most money?'" said Puig.

And to do that in this day and age, she said, "You gotta get a good score on Rotten Tomatoes."

Axelrod asked Fandango's Paul Yanover, "Do you dispute the notion that Rotten Tomatoes has now almost achieved make-or-break status for movies being released?"

"I think that's too strong a statement," he replied. "I don't think it's make-or-break."

Jeff Voris said, "We don't think that at all. We believe that, if anything, we help shine a light often on films or TV shows that you might not know a lot about otherwise."  


Axelrod said, "I guess the school of thought there is, if you want to make a successful movie now, you've got to thread this Rotten Tomatoes needle. Do the moviemakers, the producers, the studios, do they have a point?"

Yanover said, "I look at it this way: Right now, there are nine Oscar-nominated movies [for Best Picture]. I believe every single one of them is Certified Fresh."

This year's Best Picture Oscar nominees, in order of Rotten Tomatoes' "Certified Fresh" ranking :

"Get Out" 99% "Lady Bird" 99% "Call Me By Your Name" 96% "Dunkirk" 93% "The Shape of Water" 92% "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" 92% "Phantom Thread" 91% "The Post" 88% "Darkest Hour" 86%

         For more info:

  • National Research Group
  • Follow  @ClaudiaPuig on Twitter
  • Los Angeles Film Critics Association

     Story produced by Gabriel Falcon.

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How Does Rotten Tomatoes Work? An Analysis of the “Review-Aggregation Website for Film and Television”

Most people read a movie review before watching it. Little do they know that it’s of little use.

Jasmine Chen , Editorial Editor | May 27, 2023, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Rotten Tomatoes has made its foray into the movie industry, featuring multiple certified critics and quickly becoming one of the most trusted movie review sites.

Filmmakers often find themselves struggling to satisfy their audience. How often do you find yourself annoyed by the ending of a film or television series? Was it because the ending was too rushed? Why did you watch it in the first place? Did you see that the reviews were good? Films and television series depend significantly on their reviews to survive in their enormously competitive industry. 

If you’re an avid movie watcher, you’ve likely heard of the “tomato meter” on the popular “review-aggregation website for film and television,” Rotten Tomatoes . Maybe you’ve even used it yourself. Based on the tomatometer scale, movies are assigned a status like “fresh” or “rotten” depending on how positive or negative the views are, respectively. A good movie has a high rating, and a bad movie has a low rating– or so we believe. 

Launched by Senh Duong during the summer of 1998, R otten Tomatoes was a spare-time project meant to allow people to have easy access to various critics from the United States. However, it quickly gained popularity, as it was the first time people had seen anything like it. 

what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

“ Back in the days of the open theaters, when a play was particularly atrocious, the audience expressed their dissatisfaction by not only booing and hissing at the stage, but also throwing whatever was at hand – vegetables and fruits included ,” Rotten Tomatoes notes on their website . 

It became easier than ever to find out whether a movie was worth watching or not. Movies with high reviews became noticed faster than ever before. People were able to read professional critic reviews before a movie’s release, meaning that they would no longer have to depend on friends, family, or a radio review that discussed the movie days after the release. Good reviews left by critics would lead to a larger audience and vice versa. This seems like a simple concept, but the box office reveals otherwise. 

Movies with hundreds of positive critical reviews were quickly noticed. Rotten Tomatoes was a hit, but not all movies benefited from it. Not only were “good” movies blowing up faster than ever before, but movies that were deemed “bad” saw a sharp decline in popularity and viewership. 

When certified television critics write their reviews on Rotten Tomatoes , they tend to lean towards the technical side of things. “Film criticism usually offers interpretation of [a film’s] meaning, analysis of its structure and style,” notes The University of Vermont’ research guide website. These critics often notice details that the general audience would not notice. Sure, this further analysis may provide for a better outlook on just how artistically groundbreaking a film is, but analyses like these are often not that useful for people who are not critics, those who are generally just looking for films that make them feel something. Viewers and critics look for different things in a film, and critics dominate review sites. It’s difficult for casual watchers to get the reviews they’re looking for. To combat this, Rotten Tomatoes offers two sections, a critique section and a review section. Interestingly, visitors of this website will find that many of the movies have opposing viewpoints from the critics versus the audience movie ratings. Venom , for example, received a heavy divide in ratings between critics and audience, a majority of the audience believing that the movie was good while the critics thought otherwise. The opposite happened with Spy Kids 2 . Casual viewers were eager to watch the movie after seeing the mostly positive critic ratings, only to be disappointed, a majority of them, leaving low ratings and negative reviews. 

“The real concern with Rotten Tomatoes was that it became such a go-to place for people [that it] could kill a movie much more quickly than was traditional,” said Bruce Nash , founder and publisher of the movie industry data provider, The Numbers .

If it so happens that the people attending the movie or film preview screening leave bad reviews, then people who originally planned on watching it may take a step back or reconsider. Though this could arguably be a good thing, preventing people from seeing bad movies. However. it could also harm a good movie from being able to reach its target audience. The rating of movies may hurt movie productions more than any of us could have imagined. In a podcast, filmmaker Seth Rogen said on Entertainment Weekly that negative reviews were a very personal thing to the production crew, adding that “it is devastating when you are being institutionally told that your personal expression is bad. That’s something that people carry with them… their entire lives.” 

As much as negative reviews sting, there are plenty of people who would argue that every review – even the negative ones – are necessary. Dan Murrell , a film critic, commented on GrantConnected that “film criticism absolutely matters because criticism is an essential key to art, and I think that part of the cycle of art is that there’s a conversation around it. You don’t want to hang up a painting in an empty museum.” Despite their harm, criticism offers new ideas and room for improvement, possibly leading to better quality or performances. But to what extent do these negative reviews help? Upon further inspection, it becomes clear that negative reviews have impacted the industry more than we could have imagined; it does more than just hurting the feelings of the filmmaker. 

“Negative criticism… is not only bad f or the media being critiqued, but in turn, directs traffic and attention to the writer of the criticism, not just the media,” said Jack Filsinger , an author for Creative Screenwriting . This issue applies heavily to ongoing series or anticipated movies with large fan bases.  

what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

In 2017, Carice van Houten revealed that she had received death threats from fans who were unhappy with – what they deemed to be – controversial scenes that she took part in. Instead of criticizing the character or the writer’s choice of plot direction, they placed the blame and hate directly onto the actor who simply presented watchers with scenes believed to have been necessary for plot progression.

Cyberattacks such as this occur frequently within the film industry. Actors carry the great burden of ensuring that the content is engaging through a multitude of techniques such as developing their character, maintaining physical and emotional stamina, improv, and so much more. They spend substantial amounts of time studying them and yet actors, actresses, film writers, and producers alike are all at risk of suffering from public persecution. But what does this mean? Should we stop leaving bad movie reviews? 

Though there’s no definite answer, there are the pros and cons to anything, and that includes movie reviews. There is much room for flexibility and improvement, as we see society moving towards a more open-minded mindset. As the movie industry progresses, the influence of movie reviews likely won’t be as great as it is now. 

In order to gain popularity, a movie must appeal to its target audience. With the help of well-developed algorithms on streaming services such as Netflix or HBO , more movies will find their way to their ideal audiences, which thereby lessens consumer’s need for review systems. 

A possible solution to this would be to create websites with sections for individual movie genres, allowing people to differentiate the reviews from people who do not usually watch a certain genre compared to those who do so frequently. However, this is unlikely to happen, as it is tedious and would take time to generate reviews. 

So at the end of the day, what really matters is one’s personal preference. Though an individual may use reviews to see whether or not a movie is worth watching, it is inefficient for anyone to base their entire viewpoints of a movie on a review. They are helpful– to an extent. 

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Jasmine Chen is an Editorial Editor for ‘The Science Survey.' She finds joy in bringing stories to life through the focus of one small detail at a time,...

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what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

A24's Civil War Rotten Tomatoes Score Is A Big Relief After This Movie From 2 Years Ago

  • Garland's Civil War receives an impressive 88% Rotten Tomatoes score, a huge relief after the mixed reception of Men in 2022.
  • Early reviews praise Civil War for its captivating premise, signaling a return to form for Garland after the divisive Men.
  • With a $50 million budget, Civil War is poised to surpass the $11.2 million worldwide box office of Men and potentially hit $100 million.

As the release of the highly anticipated Alex Garland film Civil War approaches, the first reveal of its Rotten Tomatoes score is a relieving sign following a recent 2022 critical misfire. Garland has created some of the most innovative and impactful movies of the 21st century, beginning with his breakout zombie hit 28 Days Later (2002), which he wrote the screenplay for. The London-based writer/director has since written the screenplays for the well-received Never Let Me Go (2010) and Dredd (2012) before rising to prominence with his first two directorial efforts Ex Machina (2014) and Annihilation (2018) .

The release of the first trailer for Garland's Civil War occurred just a week after the Netflix dystopian disaster film Leave the World Behind , beginning a recent trend of films rooted in realism that chronicle plausible outcomes of the downfall of Western society. Civil War takes place in a not-so-distant future in the United States, setting up a fictional yet unlikely alliance between Texas and California in opposition to the U.S. federal government and military. Civil War stars Jesse Plemons, Wagner Moura, Nick Offerman, and Kirsten Dunst in her first role since the Oscar-winning 2021 drama The Power of the Dog .

Civil War's Rotten Tomatoes Score Is A Good Sign After Men's Reception

Civil War's 88% Rotten Tomatoes score is a huge relief considering the divided critical reception for Garland's previous directorial effort, Men (2022). Men is Garland's low-budget contemporary folk horror film starring Jessie Buckley and Roy Kinnear that ultimately left critics and audiences somewhat split, earning a 65 Metascore and a 69% on Rotten Tomatoes. The 85% score of Civil War provides Garland's latest film with a much stronger footing before its wide release on April 12, 2024. Civil War has its world premiere at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas on March 14, 2024.

Early reviews of Civil War praised the Garland film for its captivating premise and expert execution of a sharp and chillingly relevant cautionary tale . Variety had this to say on Civil War : "It’s the most upsetting dystopian vision yet from the sci-fi brain who killed off all of London for the zombie uprising depicted in “28 Days Later,” and one that can’t be easily consumed as entertainment." Indiewire called the film "a return to form for its director after the misstep of “Men,” a film that’s grim and harrowing by design" while The Hollywood Reporter called Civil War "a subversive and unsettling exercise."

What Caused The Civil War In A24's New 2024 Movie?

Why civil war could still end up being divisive.

Garland is undoubtedly a divisive filmmaker, a creative mind that does not shy away from provoking visceral reactions from audiences. This could ultimately touch on some sensitive areas from viewers who may choose to infuse their own political ideologies into the film's story world. Civil War is poised to become one of the most talked-about movies of 2024 and its lingering message of caution should inspire spirited debate and discourse online. While the critical reception of Civil War appears impressive on paper, the audience reception could face a similar fate to Men , whose audience score is much lower than its critical score on RT.

Men's 69% score on Rotten Tomatoes is paired with its 40% audience score, which is a fairly wide gap compared to his most popular works. Ex Machina was the most recent of Garland films to earn universal acclaim between critics and audiences, with scores of 92% and 86%. Annihilation , however, is similarly split between critics and audiences, earning an 88% score from critics but a 67% score from audiences. With Civil War potentially being so divisive and politically charged , it wouldn't be a surprise for A24's first blockbuster movie to end up dividing people in various ways.

8 Most Exciting Things To Expect From A24's Civil War

Civil war should easily beat alex garland's men in another way.

Civil War should maintain its impressive critical score on Rotten Tomatoes leading up to its wide release in April, which would certainly place it in a higher tier than 2022's Men. Civil War could become Garland's highest-grossing directorial effort of his career , enhanced by IMAX screenings and a relatively underwhelming theatrical release slate in April. The film was made for $50 million, a modest budget for a film of such scope and scale that should be an easy target for its box office to hit. Men only made $11.2 million worldwide by comparison, setting up Civil War to soar past that box office target and potentially hit the $100 million mark worldwide.

Civil War is a 2024 action thriller from writer and director Alex Garland. Starring Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura, and Stephen McKinley Henderson, Civil War takes place in the near future and shows the United States entering a new Civil War after California and Texas attempt to separate from the country.

Director Alex Garland

Release Date April 26, 2024

Studio(s) DNA Films

Distributor(s) A24

Writers Alex Garland

Cast Cailee Spaeny, Wagner Moura, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Nick Offerman, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons

Runtime 109 Minutes

Genres Drama, Action

A24's Civil War Rotten Tomatoes Score Is A Big Relief After This Movie From 2 Years Ago

what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

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X-Men '97 First Reviews: "Marvel's Best Release in Years," Critics Say

Thanks to its nostalgic 2d animation style, smart writing, and captivating action sequences, critics say the highly-anticipated sequel to x-men: the animated series is "x-quisite.".

what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

TAGGED AS: Animation , First Reviews , television , TV

X-Men ’97 is the animated sequel to X-Men: The Animated Series , which went off the air after a five-season run on Fox in 1997. The 10-episode new season, which was created by Beau DeMayo , continues the adventures of the X-Men in the classic 2D animation style of the original series. The series marks the introduction of the classic group of superhero mutants to the MCU. The first two episodes are now streaming on Disney+.

Many of the original voice cast have returned, including Cal Dodd as Wolverine, George Buza as Beast, Lenore Zann as Rogue and Alison Sealy-Smith as Storm. Joining them are Jennifer Hale as Jean Grey, Holly Chou as Jubilee, A.J. LoCascio as Gambit, Ray Chase as Cyclops, JP Karliak as Morph and Matthew Waterson as Magneto.

Needless to say, there’s a lot of buzz surrounding the show. Is it all nostalgia or does the series deliver the goods? Here’s what critics are saying about X-Men ’97 :

How does it compare to X-Men: The Animated Series ?

what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

(Photo by Marvel Animation)

The stories of those old episodes hold up, but the show itself is difficult to watch on modern television. X-Men ‘97 has none of those problems and it’s a joy seeing these characters animated in a new, crisp series. — Max Covill,
Despite carrying over styles, characters and actors from three decades ago, the show, in sum, represents Marvel’s best release in years. Yes, better than anything else in movies, live-action, streaming, or animation. — David Reddish, Wealth of Geeks
It threads the needle of adaptation and rebooting very well. These first three episodes of X-Men ’97 are great, and I expect the rest of the season to continue with that greatness. — Julian Lytle, RIOTUS
X-Men ’97 does an outstanding job of honouring X-Men: The Animated Series while still carving out a path for itself. — Britany Murphy, Muses of Media
Taking its cues from the original series, embracing the past, but ready to forge a path into the future, Marvel Animation’s X-Men ‘97 is entertaining and dramatic and retains the vibrant spirit of the original series. — Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist
As Marvel’s first X-Men offering since reclaiming the rights to the property five years ago, this show is a welcome indicator of the franchise’s future. It’s not just good, it’s X-quisite. — Zaki Hasan, San Francisco Chronicle
X-Men ‘97 represents the best kind of nostalgic exercise. It pays loving tribute to the original X-Men: The Animated Series while also smoothing over some of that show’s rough edges. — Jesse Schedeen, IGN Movies

How is the voice cast?

what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

The voice performances are strong across the board, even if some cast members perhaps sound a little too old for their respective roles. — Josh Wilding,
The returning cast members haven’t lost a beat either, particularly Sealy-Smith and Dodd, who are up there with Kevin Conroy’s take on Batman as defining performers for their respective characters. Out of the new additions, Jennifer Hale stands out the most. The stalwart voice performer’s characterization of Jean Grey comes with all the warmth, lovability and determination that’s made the character so beloved, continuing to prove that she’s one of the best vocal actors in the industry. — William Goodman, TheWrap
The voice cast in X-Men ‘97 is generally strong, featuring a mix of returning favorites and new soundalikes. Frankly, there would have been no point in bringing anyone back if Dodd weren’t available to voice Wolverine. Between him, Alison Sealy-Smith’s Storm and Zahn’s Rogue, the new series has the most important bases covered. The newcomers mostly settle into their roles nicely. — Jesse Schedeen, IGN Movies

Does the writing and animation deliver?

what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

The pace can be dizzying, but when rendered in the pleasantly throwback, neon-colored, two-dimensional style of the original, it’s also engaging. There’s no time for things to drag when the plot is this packed. — Alison Herman, Variety
What’s ultimately crucial is that X-Men ’97 gets these characters right, and watching the heroes interact on screen (whether it’s battling Sentinels or hanging out in the X-Mansion) proves to be the biggest source of joy in the opening three episodes. — Josh Wilding,
The series is part drama, part sitcom, part action fantasy, all wrapped up in a zippy half-hour package as accessible to the casual newcomer as it is to those who’ve been waiting 27 years to find out what happens next. — Angie Han, Hollywood Reporter
Yet new watchers coming into X-Men ‘97  blind will find the writing often provides the right amount of context around past events without falling into extensive exposition. — William Goodman, TheWrap
X-Men ’97 is exciting, it’s action-packed, but wow does the writing breathe new life into these already complex and fascinating characters. — Lauren Milici, Total Film

What about the action sequences?

what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

The series makes the most of the fact that it’s not bound by the same kid-friendly standards as the original. The X-Men are finally allowed to cut loose and unleash their powers in ways they never could back in the ‘90s. Even Cyclops, for all that he may be a stick in the mud, personality-wise, comes across as just plain cool on the field of battle. — Jesse Schedeen, IGN Movies
The action sequences, like the recently released clip of the team fighting the mutant-hunting Sentinels, are easily the standouts. — William Goodman, TheWrap
The animation here is evoking the original designs, but modernizing them with flair, as everything looks more dynamic, the characters are vibrant, and the action scenes are truly jaw-dropping. — Ross Bonaime, Collider
The action sequences are thought out so well, with interesting camera angles and movements with such fluidity as the characters move on the screen. — Julian Lytle, RIOTUS

Are there any overarching themes?

what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

When Roberto protests that he was “born this way” or a sneering bigot tells weather goddess Storm (Alison Sealy-Smith) that tolerance is only “a fad,” those moments draw power from the connections we make in our own minds to the oppression of queer people, people of color, women and so on. — Angie Han, Hollywood Reporter
X-Men  as a whole deals with the timeless question of what an oppressed minority owes its oppressor, and specific creations like the blue-furred scientist Beast (George Buza) and Cajun card-thrower Gambit (AJ LoCascio) have reputations that precede them. Shape-shifter Morph (JP Karliak) gets a slight makeover, but while DeMayo has described them as nonbinary, their gender neutrality comes off more as an extension of their longstanding superpower than a conspicuous nod to modern mores. — Alison Herman, Variety
Much of X-Men ‘97 is about the team grappling with their respective futures. It’s a fitting theme, considering this is the start of the franchise’s tenure under Marvel Studios, and getting it wrong could spell danger for what’s to come when the characters inevitably make their live-action debut. — William Goodman, TheWrap
But the episode doesn’t shy away from tackling some pretty big topics (something the original series was known to do), including motherhood, identity, abandonment, and the complicated feelings that come along with grief. — Lauren Milici, Total Film

Any final thoughts?

what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

Absolutely no notes. It’s perfect. — Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky
It took nearly three decades to return to this world, but X-Men ’97 makes the wait well worth it. — Ross Bonaime, Collider
It may not reinvent the wheel, but in a certain sense, it does lay the groundwork for what Marvel hopes will be an, ahem, x-citing future. — Nick Schager, The Daily Beast
X-Men ‘97 marks an excellent start for the MCU mutant era. — William Goodman, TheWrap
For now, X-Men ’97 is a ‘90s-soaked delight that finally brings mutants back to our screens to usher in a marvellous new era of storytelling. — Josh Wilding,

X-Men '97: Season 1 (2024) premiered its first two episodes on Wednesday, March 20 on Disney+. New episodes will air weekly on Wednesdays.

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Arthur the King Becomes Mark Wahlberg's Career High With Near-Perfect Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score

Mark Wahlberg's latest movie may not be his biggest box office success, but it has resonated with audiences.

  • Arthur the King is Wahlberg's highest rated movie by audience approval, with a score of 98% on Rotten Tomatoes.
  • The film, based on a true story, showcases Wahlberg's emotional side in a heartwarming tale of endurance and friendship.
  • Despite facing injury during filming, Wahlberg pushed through to bring the character to life in this successful movie about unlikely bonds.

Mark Wahlberg has unexpected gained a new career high with his latest film , Arthur the King . While critics have been positive about the movie, audiences on Rotten Tomatoes have gone one step further and given the movie an almost perfect score of 98%, which is enough to make it Wahlberg’s highest rated movie ever by audience approval score.

Arthur the King

Arthur the King is a heartwarming tale, based on the true story of an adventure racer who adopts a stray dog named Arthur during a grueling endurance race. The film is a movie that relies on Wahlberg showing his emotional side rather than playing the action hero or relying on his comedy chops, and clearly, this is something that he has excelled in.

Critically, Arthur the King has received mixed reviews, with a 63% approval rating from critics, who have praised its ability to tug at the heartstrings, despite suggesting a more subtle approach might have been more effective. The film, however, seems to be able to do no wrong as far as audiences are concerned, which once again shows the distinct split in opinions between those who review movies as a profession, and those who pay to watch them for pleasure.

Mark Wahlberg Had To Push Himself Through Injury to Finish Arthur the King

Arthur the King ’s success with audiences will no doubt come as a relief for star Wahlberg, as he had to suffer for his art thanks to an injury he sustained on the first day of filming the movie. In an interview with MovieWeb , Wahlberg recalled how playing the part of an adventure racer definitely wasn’t a walk in the park. He said:

"[The production] was good until I busted my knee on day one. You always just want to look the part. I always feel like if I can be believable, as a guy who can kind of go out there and run an adventure race, then I'll do the man justice. But after I tore my knee, it was just like, everyone else was worried that we were going to shut down the movie, I was going to have the surgery. And Mikael was like, 'No, this is what it's about. You have to go through all of this pain and the suffering.'"

Arthur the King was released on March 15, going up against the new release of The American Society of Magical Negroes , and the expansion of Kristen Stewart’s Love Lies Bleeding , but its main competition came from the previous week’s release of the animated sequel Kung Fu Panda 4 . As the Jack Black-led movie continued to dominate the domestic chart, collecting over $30 million on its second weekend, Wahlberg’s film debuted with $7.5 million, and took third place behind Dune: Part Two .

Mark Wahlberg Suffered an Injury on First Day Filming Arthur the King, Credits His Faith for 'Everything'

With a reported budget of $19 million, this was not the greatest start financially for Arthur the King , but with such strong audience reviews, it could be possible for the film to gain a little more from word of mouth. Of course, it will also have a streaming release to come, so, all in all, the film may not have become a surprise box office moneyspinner, but it has proven to be a success in other ways.

Arthur the King is currently playing in theaters.

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Browse Reviews

what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

The incoherent drama Browse tries to look like a suspenseful horror movie, but there's nothing scary or thrilling about this rambling dud of a film.

Full Review | Jul 30, 2020

what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

A great deal of the movie consists of unfinished ideas, plot points, story threads, and character arcs.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/4 | Jul 22, 2020

what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

It's a thoughtful, curious piece of work which may not quite be successful in finding its destination but which manages to intrigue along the way.

Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5 | Jul 21, 2020

Skip the film if you need an ending that answers the questions raised throughout. But check it out if you enjoy seeing a psychological thriller that makes you come to your own conclusions.

Full Review | Original Score: 7/10 | Jul 20, 2020

With such a tangled mess of a film it is hard to put your finger on what went wrong in the bringing it to the screen.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/5 | Jul 13, 2020

what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

In a perfect world, this thriller, with its onslaught of stomach-churning "oh no!" moments, would've had a point, something that connected it all together (or at least a conclusion), but it doesn't.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/5 | Jul 12, 2020

what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

An identity theft "nightmare" that fails every attempted thrill and chill. Quite possibly one of the most unimaginative and unmemorable films I've ever seen.

Full Review | Original Score: .5/5 | Jul 10, 2020

what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

An everyman's identify theft -- or is he just a deluded creeper? -- is fitfully explored in this underwhelming psychological thriller.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/5 | Jul 7, 2020

what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

Browse feels like glimpsing through a problematic story with little context as to why you should care let alone watch it.

Full Review | Original Score: 2/10 | Jul 7, 2020

what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review

This thriller doesn't thrill. It occasionally amuses, and it rarely makes any real sense.

Full Review | Original Score: 4 | Jul 6, 2020

Screen Rant

Kristen stewart’s new thriller debuts to second-highest rotten tomatoes score of her career.

A24's new crime thriller Love Lies Bleeding, which features Kristen Stewart, debuts as her second-highest-rated movie on Rotten Tomatoes.

Read update

Love Lies Bleeding 's Rotten Tomatoes Score Fluctuates

  • Kristen Stewart's Love Lies Bleeding is her second-highest rated movie on Rotten Tomatoes at 91%.
  • The movie follows Stewart as a gym employee who falls for a bisexual bodybuilder in the competitive bodybuilding world.
  • Stewart has starred in highly rated films like Certain Women and Spencer , but also in poorly received films like Seberg .

Kristen Stewart's new thriller Love Lies Bleeding debuts as her second-highest-rated movie on Rotten Tomatoes. Set in the 1980s, this action crime film from A24 and directed by Rose Glass follows Stewart as Lou, a gym employee who falls for bisexual bodybuilder Jackie (Katy O'Brien), both of whom soon discover just how competitive the world of bodybuilding is. Along with Stewart and O'Brien, the movie stars Jena Malone, Anna Baryshnikov, Dave Franco, and Ed Harris, and will premiere in cinemas on March 8.

Now, with the theatrical release date of the movie close, numerous Love Lies Bleeding reviews have been released and the movie's Rotten Tomatoes score is 91% based on 60 reviews as at the time of writing . The consensus from the review aggregator website is that Love Lies Bleeding is a “ well-acted addition” to Rose Glass' growing body of impressive works.


The upcoming A24 movie now stands at 90% based on 62 reviews. This makes it Stewart's third-highest career score for a fiction film, slipping just behind 2014's Clouds at Sils Maria . The rating could continue to fluctuate as more reviews come in for the movie's theatrical release.

Kristen Stewart's 10 Best Movies, Ranked

Love lies bleeding is a great sophomore feature from rose glass, her first movie also scored in the 90s on rotten tomatoes.

Love Lies Bleeding may be Stewart’s first collaboration with A24, but director Glass already has an A24 feature under her belt . This was 2019’s psychological horror film Saint Maud , which follows a pious nurse who develops an obsession with saving her ailing patient’s soul. Saint Maud was also Glass’ debut feature film, making Love Lies Bleeding her sophomore feature.

Saint Maud features a leading cast of Morfydd Clark, Caoilfhionn Dunne, and Jennifer Ehle.

In Saint Maud , Glass laid the groundwork for what is looking to be a flourishing career in the realm of deeply psychological thriller. In the debut feature, Glass also exhibited her propensity for showing a highly idiosyncratic and twisted form of sensuality between two people of disparate backgrounds. As the Love Lies Bleeding trailer suggests, Glass’ sophomore effort follows some similar themes, making it an interesting addition to her oeuvre.

Saint Maud also created a reception divide. While it scored a Certified Fresh 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, the audience score was a comparatively lower 67%. As Love Lies Bleeding hits theaters on Friday, it will be interesting to see how its audience reception tracks (or doesn’t) with the pattern set by the Glass debut.

How Does Love Lies Bleeding Compare To Stewart’s Other Movies?

Her career-best rating is from 2016.

For many years now, Kristen Stewart has operated as one of the most famous and talented actors in Hollywood. After gaining prominence for playing Bella Swan in the Twilight Saga film series , Stewart has gone on to appear in several other blockbusters while also receiving notable accolades along the way. While Love Lies Bleeding is currently receiving rave reviews, it is worth noting that Stewart has starred in some other highly-rated movies in the past as well.

In 2016, the talented actress appeared in Kelly Reichardt’s moving drama Certain Women . The movie was met with high praise from critics, and it currently boasts a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In 2021, Stewart’s performance in Pablo Larraín’s Spencer received widespread acclaim and the movie also boasts a fairly impressive 83% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Check out her top 10 films according to the Tomatometer in the table below:

While Stewart has starred in some great movies over the years, she’s also starred in a few which have not been met with favorable reviews . For example, Benedict Andrews’ political thriller Seberg , where Stewart stars as the title character, received poor ratings and has a lowly 35%. Same with 2015’s Anesthesia , which received an even worse 27% rating. However, with Love Lies Bleeding just a few days away from release, anyone who enjoys Stewart’s work should be able to experience one of her better movies on screen soon enough.

Source: Rotten Tomatoes

Love Lies Bleeding

Love Lies Bleeding is an action crime film from A24. Directed by Rose Glass, Love Lies Bleeding centers on a gym employee, played by Kristen Stewart, and a bisexual bodybuilder (Katy O'Brian) as they discover how difficult the world of competitive bodybuilding is. The film also stars Jena Malone, Anna Baryshnikov, Dave Franco, and Ed Harris.

*Availability in US

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    what does rotten tomatoes mean for a movie review


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    The Rotten Tomatoes rating system uses a scale better known as the "The Tomatometer.". This represents the percentage of positive reviews for a given film or show. The Tomatometer score is calculated after five reviews. As the reviews come in, The Tomatometer measures the positive reviews against the negative ones and assigns either an ...

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