With the weekend here, before heading to their local theater, many movie fans will likely visit the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, to see what the nation’s critics have to say about this week’s latest releases. Friday’s crop of new movies include Sony’s sci-fi thriller Life, which gets the only “Fresh” score, with a 62% rating, while Lionsgate’s Power Rangers (43%) and Warner Bros.’ CHiPs (26%) didn’t fare quite so well. During a recent film festival appearance, director and producer Brett Ratner, whose RatPac Entertainment company co-financed Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, complained about this why of judging movies. He thinks the Rotten Tomatoes movie review website is the worst part of today’s cinema culture.
Brett Ratner made these comments at the Sun Valley Film Festival last weekend, which Entertainment Weekly is a producing sponsor of. While the filmmaker revealed that he still does have a great respect for film criticism, singling out iconic critics such as Pauline Kael, he believes Rotten Tomatoes is the “destruction of our business.” Here’s what Brett Ratner had to say about the movie review website, revealing that the reviews definitely cast a negative cloud around Batman v Superman that will never go away.
“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.”
While Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice earned $330.3 million domestically, the eighth highest domestic total all year, it fell behind 20th Century Fox’s Deadpool ($363 million) and Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War ($408 million). While its $873.3 million worldwide total was the seventh highest total all year, it was not a big hit with critics, with just a 27% rating on RT. Brett Ratner isn’t the only one who isn’t a fan of Rotten Tomatoes. Shortly after the release of Warner Bros’ DCEU adventure Suicide Squad, an online petition surfaced to shut the website down, after critics trashed Suicide Squad even more than Batman v Superman, earning a 25% score. Here’s what Brett Ratner had to say about how Rotten Tomatoes hurt director Zack Snyder‘s Batman v Superman.
“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.”
While Batman v Superman’s Rotten Tomatoes score was certainly less than desirable, it wasn’t the only group that bashed the movie. The Golden Raspberry Foundation, which puts on the annual Razzie Awards, nominated Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice for a whopping eight awards, with the superhero adventure “winning” in four categories for Worst Screenplay, Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel, Worst Screen Combo (Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill) and Worst Supporting Actor (Jesse Eisenberg). EW also reached out to Rotten Tomatoes for a response. Here’s what RT’s Jeff Voris had to say in 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.”
In the aftermath of the backlash to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, Justice League star Ezra Miller said that the negative reviews only made the cast and crew more determined to make Justice League a success. Whether or not this motivational technique worked remains to be seen, but fans will find out when Justice League hits theaters. It will be interesting to see how DC fans respond to this anti-Rotten Tomatoes sentiment by Brett Ratner, as the DCEU continues later this year with both Wonder Woman (June 2) and Justice League (November 17) hit theaters.