When you see that a film has garnered an impressive 90 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, does your mind instantly go to thinking that said movie has been rated, on average, as 9/10? If so, you’re misunderstanding how the Tomatometer works.
To accurately read the site, one must first know that the site doesn’t have its own reviewers. So, if you’ve ever heard someone say, “Rotten Tomatoes gave this movie a bad score,” just know that they are fundamentally wrong. What the website does is collect reviews, from its batch of “certified” reviewers, from all over the web. After that, it takes a look at what each reviewer thought of the movie; if a critic gave a newly released film a 6/10, that would be considered “fresh”. Anything under that is not good, and would get categorized as “rotten”. Understand? Well, let’s check out an example.
It was just released to an impressive 86 percent. Now, does this mean that each reviewer thinks the movie is an 8.6/10? Nope. All this percentage means is that 86 percent of reviewers gave the movie a 6/10 or better. Technically, a film could receive a 6/10 from every reviewer and score an 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
Now, let’s look at another aspect of Rotten Tomatoes’ score system; how does a movie become “certified fresh”? To earn this achievement, said film must have a total of 80 reviews (worldwide release), 40 reviews (limited release), or 20 reviews (television shows) and land a 75 percent average score. Additionally, 5 Top Critics must have published their opinion on the movie.
Another aspect to the website is its use of an audience score. This category has nothing to do with a motion picture’s overall percentage; however, often times, critics and fans will disagree on the enjoyment of a movie. Let’s take a look at 2005’s remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. While only 51 percent of fans like the film, a whopping 83 percent of critics took a liking to the Johnny Depp-led adventurous tale.
There is a right and wrong way to read Rotten Tomatoes. Given how the internet has reacted to certain films over the last few years, it’s obvious that most people aren’t aware of how the website actually works. Next time you come across a confused cinephile wrongly arguing something about the Tomatometer, show them this article.