Is Rotten Tomatoes Killing the Movie Industry?
Updated: Nov 21, 2022
I recently stumbled upon an an article in which Director Brett Ratner (Rush Hour,Hercules) had mentioned different things about the website, RottenTomatoes.com and how it impacted films in general. Here are but a few quotes, "The worst thing that we have in today’s movie culture is Rotten Tomatoes. I think it’s the destruction of our business…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."
"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.”
Now the article got me thinking, does a score on Rotten Tomatoes influence my decision whether or not to see a movie? Also, are these scores destroying the movie business? To be honest, I do look at the score, if the movie is universally panned, I may decide to watch a matinee where the price of a movie ticket is little more reasonable. But in most cases, if a movie catches my attention, I usually go see the movie, regardless of its Rotten Tomatoes score. I like what I like. Period!
Now, as for the destruction of the movie industry? This seems a little farfetched in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong I'm sure that the Rotten Tomatoes score does influence the number of people seeing a movie at the theatre which in turn affects its box office. But, is Rotten Tomatoes (R.T.) solely to blame for the downfall of movie industry? Nope
In my honest opinion, there are numerous other reasons for the diminishing returns in the film industry. First and foremost, the quality of the films being released are not worth the cost of admission. Most films now-a-days are reboots or retelling of a story that we already know. Or a CGI spectacle made to help push a toy line or keep a franchise going.
Secondly, there is the overall cost of going out to a movie. On average, seeing a “blockbuster” movie in 3-D costs about $16 per person. So imagine a family of 4, and then factor in the popcorn and drinks for each of them and that one afternoon at the theatre runs you about $100.00. Because of this, families go less to the theatre because 1) they need to find a movie that we will entertain the whole family and 2) they need to be selective of where to spend their hard earned cash, plain and simple.
Now, if you also consider the simple fact that with today's technology, people can watch any movie in the comfort of your own home. All they need is a good T.V. and decent home theatre system and they are ready to go. No more having someone kick your chair or having someone use their cell phone throughout the movie. No more worrying about what you missed while you went to the bathroom or trying to find a sitter for your lovely, but nice to get away from, kids. The way I see it, even if I purchased a Blu ray at full price, it's still less expensive then taking the whole family to the movies, PLUS, I get to keep the movie and enjoy it over and over again as I please.
But, now back to Brett Ratner’s statement. His company, RatPac Entertainment, financed Batman v Superman and its R.T. score was 27%. The film actually made over 870 million dollars at the global box office. Granted, it didn’t match the numbers of some of the Marvel movies, but 870 million is nothing to roll your eyes at. Did the score have an impact on the film? I'm sure it did. I'm also certain some people opted to not see it in the theatre because of the low score and instead decided to either stream it or borrow it from a friend. With this said, I enjoyed the movie but it' was difficult to get into right away, hence its low score on R.T.
There is something I agree with Ratner on and that is that a score shouldn’t be a deciding factor as to whether you see a movie or not. You should see a movie that intrigues you because everyone's rating system is different. My 3 out of 5 stars has a different meaning then let’s say, Peter Travers or Leonard Maltin. The way R.T. compiles all reviews then boils it down to a simple percentage that quantifies the movie as good or bad just seems misleading. The way I see it, as bad/difficult as Batman v Superman was, it greatly surpassed XXX: The Return of Xander Cage which got a score of 43%. No ifs ands or buts, the scores are wrong.