The Attack of Rotten Tomatoes: Hollywood’s Nightmare


There have been low rumblings, silent cries demanding some level of accountability for the movie industry, something or someone that would force it to look at its product with a more honest critical eye instead of just churning out factory grade film after film. Movies that lack any real story or progression over a series but are packed with more and more explosions, hot bodies, and shoot’em up action. Hollywood conceded just slightly, giving us visually stunning stories and more true story films to satiate the theater goes hunger for depth and character purpose, but ultimately they would return to the “block buster” guaranteed pay day. Even if it means a Fast and Furious 20 or Transformers 100, the box office would be flooded with mediocre films still racking up dollar signs. This could be coming to a slow end as the generation of google search everything, rate everything, and review everything online before you buy it is becoming the dominant movie goers of the present and well into the future. Hollywood is aware of this and realize the danger this wave poses. As per a report done by 20th Century Fox in 2015 and acquired by Vanity Fair, which focused on the leader of this movie goer quality assurance, Rotten Tomatoes;


“The power of Rotten Tomatoes and fast-breaking word of mouth will only get stronger. Many Millennials and even Gen Xers now vet every single purchase through the internet, whether it’s restaurants, video games, make-up, consumer electronics, or movies. As they get older and comprise an even larger share of total moviegoers, this behavior is unlikely to change.”


Though this report was only focused on the fruit throwing site when there are many others, it was rightfully so the topic of discussion, I mean the report itself was titled Rotten Tomatoes and Box Office. The effect that Rotten Tomatoes has had is undeniable, we can look back just last week when the site posted its review and Tomatometer numbers for Baywatch, The Mummy, and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, which all did putrid numbers while having strong names in their lead roles. For crying out loud Tom Cruise, Maverick himself was the lead in The Mummy, and still couldn’t break the 20% mark. The Baywatch remake that kept David Hasselhoff riding off his leather jacket Knight Rider days, and now starred the big screen poster boy Dwayne Johnson faired no better by the meter’s eye. It is important that I mention that these percentages on Rotten Tomatoes are the calculations of critics reviews of these films, people who are astute in looking for particulars that are essential in making a good film or are just biased. The power of the critic has not wane, but has been bolstered by sites and forums that allow for their unfiltered opinions of movies weeks or days before they hit the big screens, leaving such a bad taste in the mouths of movie goers that many decide to save their $20 for a night in with a pizza pie.


Indeed, Hollywood is in a dilemma. On one had you allow critics to watch your films pre-released and if they approve you have people lining up to watch your movie based on the rave reviews it receives, but, on the other hand, you reduce your critic reviews, because there is no way you can just completely restrict, and risk a larger number finding the movie to be a disappointment, thus sharing this with the review sites and the readers. This would inevitably push away a number of possible viewers who, despite reviews, could have actually enjoyed the movie. Rotten Tomatoes does not just allow critics to review but also regular movie goers and some of the movies that had low numbers by the critics on the Tomatometer had decent percentages when rated by the everyday movie theater goer. This may not be saying much as those movie goers were unlikely to hold ph.Ds in Film, but it says that there is always someone out there who will love the movie. Yet, the film industry has been struggling to make the numbers on big releases and the continuing leaking of movies through illegal streaming sites has only exasperated the rising panic throughout the industry bringing some credence to the statement quoted in an article written by Vanity Fair writer Chris Lee, “To me, it’s a ridiculous argument that Rotten Tomatoes is the problem,” says a marketing executive at an independent film distributor. “Fuck you—make a good movie!”. I don’t know who said these words but it simplifies the most obvious solutions to Hollywood’s fear of the omnipresent critic, maybe it is time there is less focus on special effects and explosions, and more attention to story and development. Maybe the attack of the Rotten Tomatoes will steer the ship back in the right direction.





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