Does a rotten or fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes affect whether you see a movie or not? The $873 million worldwide gross for "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" would suggest fans don't really care -- they'll see what THEY want to see, critics be damned. But producer/director Brett Ratner, who helped finance "BvS," lashed out at the Tomatometer aggregate score as "the destruction of our business."
Here's part of Ratner's speech at the Sun Valley Film Festival (via Entertainment Weekly):
"The worst thing that we have in today's movie culture is Rotten Tomatoes. I think it's the destruction of our business. I have such respect and admiration for film criticism. When I was growing up film criticism was a real art. And there was intellect that went into that. And you would read Pauline's Kael's reviews, or some others, and that doesn't exist anymore. Now it's about a number. A compounded number of how many positives vs. negatives. Now it's about, 'What's your Rotten Tomatoes score?' And that's sad, because the Rotten Tomatoes score was so low on 'Batman v Superman' I think it put a cloud over a movie that was incredibly successful."
But isn't that contradictory? How could it put a cloud over the movie if it was incredibly successful, despite having just a 27 percent rating on RT? It suggests fans saw the movie anyway.
Ratner, who is not exactly objective on the subject of BvS since his company had a financial investment in it, continued:
"People don't realize what goes into making a movie like that. It's mind-blowing. It's just insane, it's hurting the business, it's getting people to not see a movie. In Middle America it's, 'Oh, it's a low Rotten Tomatoes score so I'm not going to go see it because it must suck.' But that number is an aggregate and one that nobody can figure out exactly what it means, and it's not always correct. I've seen some great movies with really abysmal Rotten Tomatoes scores. What's sad is film criticism has disappeared. It's really sad."
What's sad is anyone speaking for Middle America, especially when plenty of people did see "BvS" and other movies/shows that have gotten low scores -- including "Iron Fist," which many viewers defended from critical attacks. Sometimes low ratings just leave fans with low expectations, leaving them pleasantly surprised. And there are plenty of movies out there with high Rotten Tomatoes scores that fans didn't bother to see. Don't act like viewers are just sheep who buy tickets to whatever the critics tell them to see.
EW asked Rotten Tomatoes for a response to the "Rush Hour" director's comments, and Jeff Voris gave them a statement:
"At Rotten Tomatoes, we completely agree that film criticism is valuable and important, and we're making it easier than it has ever been for fans to access potentially hundreds of professional reviews for a given film or TV show in one place. The Tomatometer score, which is the percentage of positive reviews published by professional critics, has become a useful decision-making tool for fans, but we believe it's just a starting point for them to begin discussing, debating and sharing their own opinions."
It's not like there's just one guy out there raising or lowering his thumb, it's a collection of reviews. And fans do know that. If "BvS" had been better liked (and a better movie in general) you probably wouldn't hear Ratner complaining at all.
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