50% On Rotten Tomatoes Doesn’t Mean A Movie Sucks. Here’s How to Understand The Online Aggregator

Rotten Tomatoes is one of the biggest movie sites on the Internet, where many people go to see if a movie is Fresh or Rotten. More often than not though, people do not appear to understand how Rotten Tomatoes works, hence why we get people petitioning to have the site shut down. At some point you have probably heard that fans of Batman V Superman or Suicide Squad have blamed Rotten Tomatoes which I believe is due to the lack of understanding around the site. I only recently learnt how to interpret what all the numbers and titles mean when looking at a movie and I decided to share what I learnt. For starters Rotten Tomatoes do not write reviews. They are an aggregator of reviews from Professional Critics in all forms of media from Magazines and Newspapers, to Blogs and Podcast and YouTube critics. So when a movie is not rated highly it has nothing to do with the opinions of the people at Rotten Tomatoes.

Images via Rotten Tomatoes

Lets start with Fresh. Fresh is a term used to describe a movie that has scored a 60% or higher on the tomatometer.

Then we have Rotten. Rotten is used when as movie scores 59% or less. Personally I don’t think 59% is a fail but I don’t work for Rotten Tomatoes.

The next term people might see is Certified Fresh. This means that the movie has a Tomatometer score of 75% or higher and has been reviewed a certain amount of times. In the case of wide release films is 80 times, limited release its 40 and TV shows it is 20. The movie or show needs to have also been reviewed by 5 top critics.

They also use an audience score which is based on the percentage of users who rate the movie positively. Has nothing to do with the critic scores, just what normal filmgoers think.

Now we are going to get to the tricky part of understanding how the scores work. People see that a movie is 75% and think that is what the average score is from all the critics who reviewed it is. This is not that case. This means that 75% of critics who reviewed this film thought it was fresh (60% or higher). If 100 critics review a movie and 75% think the movie is better than 60% then the Tomatometer score is 75%. It is actually that simple. If you wish to know what the average score from the critics is, look under the Tomatometer and you can see the Average Rating, the number of Reviews Counted and the number of Fresh and Rotten reviews.

Beauty and the Beast
Image via Rotten Tomatoes

Take 2017s Beauty and the Beast. The film currently sits at 71% Fresh. Its average score is 6.6/10 based on 249 reviews. 176 Critics think the movie is 60% or higher and 73 Critics do not think it was very good. Personally I gave the film a fresh rating but I am not aligned with Rotten Tomatoes. Yet.

So next time you are looking to see if a movie is good and you see the Rotten Tomatoes score, hopefully you will now understand what all the scores are. Also it is a good idea to read the reviews and comments from critics found lower down the page. If you are a fan of the DCEU movies and are getting mad at the scores just remember, it is an average of scores and Rotten Tomatoes do not write reviews.


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