How the Rotten Tomatoes System Works

How the Rotten Tomatoes System Works

Daniel Cardenas - Reporter

Since its launch in 2000, Rotten Tomatoes has been a reliable way to find movie reviews. In February 2016, Rotten Tomatoes took on a whole new level of prominence. This was when Rotten Tomatoes was acquired by Fandango, the website that sells movie tickets for most major cinemas.

After the purchase from Fandango, Rotten Tomatoes introduced the “Tomatometer” scores which were posted next to movie listings on the site. The meter aggregates film critic’s opinions and designates one of three scores “rotten” “fresh” and “certified fresh”. Since then many studio executives and the film industry as a whole have felt that Rotten Tomatoes matters a lot more than it ever had in the past, many going as far to set up their marketing strategies accordingly.

The system seems simple enough but to fully understand it would be to look closer at the three scores. First there’s the “Rotten” score. This rating is for the films which received less than 60% of positive reviews. Then there’s “Fresh” for those earning a rating above 60%. And lastly “Certified Fresh” this is reserved for films that were reviewed 80 times and 70% or more being positive but with five of these reviews from top critics. Critics can either submit their own reviews or Rotten Tomatoes may reach out to them and ask the critic if it’s positive or borderline, usually giving the film a “fresh” score.

The system is based on a binary “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” method which can lead to a vague statement leaving a mystery to those films which received mixed ideas when reviewed. Two films such as Alien: Covenant and Moonlight, both received “certified fresh” scores but were completely different in quality.

Metacritic, another site for films reviews focuses more on interpretation goes in depth with ratings, unlike Rotten Tomatoes and their three film scores. This leads to the question: Is there be a single method to get accurate information on a film in a fraction of the time it would actually take? No. The Tomatometer may not provide elaborate details but it exists to help reach a decision quickly. In a time with limited time and everything moving so quickly everyone can benefit from a little guidance, but it’s important to know how you’re guide will get you there.