Rotten Tomatoes is an enormously popular and influential site founded in 1998 that links to movie reviews across North America. The RT site then flags the reviews as either skewing positive ('fresh') or negative ('rotten') and gives the film an overall percentile rating based on how many there are of each type. For example, a movie with nine positive ratings and one negative would receive a 90%. If the reviewer also has a grading system beyond the fresh/rotten scale, then the percentage is averaged into the 'Average Rating' grade cleverly hidden beneath the Tomatometer. Movies with a rating of 60% or over are officially dubbed 'Fresh' marked with a red tomato/dot, those below are consigned to the 'Rotten' pile with a green splat/dot.
The coveted "Certified Fresh" rating is only given to a movie which has a certain number of reviewsnote , five of which must be from "top critics", and have an overall rating of at least 75%. Once "Certified Fresh," a movie keeps that designation unless the rating later drops below 70%. Even rarer are the 100% and 0% ratings, which are given out to so few films that Wikipedia has dedicated articles listing the comparatively minuscule percentage of movies that currently maintain these distinctions.
All this makes it a good place to get a quick look at how the overall media buzz is trending for any given film. Following the percentage in the days up to the film's main release has become a popular pop-cult sport: watching the score rise and fall on the films you're looking forward to, crossing your fingers that it stays above that magic 60% until the site makes the call with the consensus statement about the film. It's less reliable for older films or tv movies, which might only have a handful of reviews, which are typically mostly positive.
The main criticism is that it oversimplifies movie criticism, reducing an entire review to either "fresh" or "rotten". Defenders contend that this makes the website useful for easily formatted consumer advice and movie research, not to mention no one can brush off its scores as "just one person's opinion." As for film companies themselves, they have commissioned studies on the service, which has produced chilling results for their business model: younger generations give it more credibility about what films to see than the studios' marketing, giving film critics a renewed collective influence. As a result, much like how the late Siskel & Ebert's trademarked tagline "Two thumbs up!" was displayed front and centre in a praised film's advertising, now "Certified Fresh" has a similar cache for any film company trying to make the best of the market reality.
Has expanded in recent years to take in production details, thus includes pre-release reviews, articles and often trailer links. They have also branched into coverage of critical reviews of television shows, though this aspect of the site remains in beta.
The site also displays has an 'Audience Score', which is voted on by registered users onto the site. Though shown alongside each other, it doesn't have the same standing, as a poor audience score is commonly a sign that there has been an online campaign to downvote it. The site introduced changes in 2019 that are intended to reduce the chances of this happening.
The website, which can be found here, was first launched in August 1998: the first film featured on the website was Your Friends & Neighbors. Has been spun off into a TV show on Current TV, simply titled The Rotten Tomatoes Show.
Rotten Tomatoes has forums, but unfortunately they were remodeled a while back and the new version actually feels like something of a downgrade. Furthermore, both their comments and forums are often infested with spambots, which they don't seem to have any capability to stop. And the forum drama that goes on over there is infamous. On July 15, 2014, the current forums were placed in a permanent read-only state, to be migrated into a new system.
In November 2012, they discontinued allowing comments to be posted on individual reviews of movies after an incident that occurred regarding reviews of The Dark Knight Rises, which ironically was extremely well-received by critics.
From 2011 to 2016, Time Warner owned Rotten Tomatoes outright through digital distribution service Flixster, which its Warner Bros. Entertainment division acquired that year in an unrelated effort to improve movie-viewing options.note Fandango, a 30/70 joint venture between NBCUniversal and Warner Bros. Discovery, now owns both RT and Flixster.
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Both: Doh ho-ho-ho-hoh!