Attack of the Rotten Tomatoes
The rise of Rotten Tomatoes has been dramatic. From 2014 to today, the share of moviegoers who visit the review aggregator before seeing a film has risen from 8 percent to 36 percent. In May, the site had 13.6 million unique visitors.
“It’s the world we live in,” Chris Aronson, head of domestic distribution at 20th Century Fox, told the LA Times. “People don’t want to necessarily take the time to read a full review. They’d rather read the aggregate scores.”
These aggregated scores are having a huge influence on moviegoer decision making. Seven out of ten people are less interested in watching a movie if the Rotten Tomatoes score was 25 or less.
And, because it is disproportionally people below the age of 25 who are using Rotten Tomatoes—a stat found both by Social media firm Fizziology and an internal study from Paramount—its influence is likely to continue expanding.
All hail review aggregators!
But is that a good thing?
Fresh or Rotten?
Many, especially those in the movie industry, wish they could squash Rotten Tomatoes’ influence.
Their biggest gripe is that aggregated reviews from critics are often totally different (worse) than test audience scores. They claim this is because the critics’ are in a different from the one they’re targeting.
Paramount’s President of Worldwide Marketing and Distribution said of the movie Baywatch, which has a dismal 19% score on Rotten Tomatoes, “The reviews really hurt the film, which scored great in test screenings. We were all surprised.”
Producers of The Emoji Movie had a similar complaint. While the animated movie earned a terrible 8% freshness rating from critics, they say the under 18 audience the movie targets gave the move an A- CinemaScore.
Though such arguments are obviously used to spin bad movies in a brighter light, there are some facts to back them up. For example, a San Diego State University study found that 73% of Rotten Tomatoes reviews are from men. Few, if any, of them are 18 or under too.
Beyond this question of representativeness are even more sinister rumors that Rotten Tomatoes and studios may be gaming the system. Could that explain how the movie Detroit managed to get itself a publicity-grabbing 97% fresh rating in limited release, only to see that score shrink to a less-noteworthy 84% once it was out of the limelight?
So what’s the solution? Using Rotten Tomatoes to pick movies is certainly flawed, but so is taking movie marketers for their word or following the sole opinion of your local movie critic.
Well, a new alternative is coming soon.
Tossing the Tomato
One thing everyone can agree on is we moviegoers all have varied tastes. This means that the ideal movie recommendation wouldn’t come from movie critic score averages or even movie studio audience surveys. No, the best recommendations come from people who have similar tastes to ours.
And now, thanks to social technology, there’s be a way to do just that.
It’s called FaveFinder.
Whenever a movie is released or becomes available on Netflix, FaveFinder creates a review score that’s personalized for you.
It does so by allowing you to define your own unique movie tastes, matching them with people you’re most similar to, and recommending movies they loved and you’ve yet to see. And every time you and those who share your tastes watch and review more movies, your recommendations are further fine-tuned.
If you want to be part of the early testing of FaveFinder, click here. It only takes a couple minutes to save yourself from biased reviews and hours of searching for and watching crappy movies.