Hollywood had the worst summer box office in 20 years, and rather than blame themselves for pumping out unoriginal franchise fare or insulting half their audience with leftist agendas or shamelessly creating abysmal crap, they now blame the critics aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes for their box office woes.
A recent article in the New York Times profiled the current attitude among executives that one website is responsible for the fact that people do not show up to the theaters the way they used to:
Most studio fingers point toward Rotten Tomatoes, which boils down hundreds of reviews to give films “fresh” or “rotten” scores on its Tomatometer. The site has surged in popularity, attracting 13.6 million unique visitors in May, a 32 percent increase above last year’s total for the month, according to the analytics firm comScore.
Studio executives’ complaints about Rotten Tomatoes include the way its Tomatometer hacks off critical nuance, the site’s seemingly loose definition of who qualifies as a critic and the spread of Tomatometer scores across the web. Last year, scores started appearing on Fandango, the online movie ticket-selling site, leading to grousing that a rotten score next to the purchase button was the same as posting this message: You are an idiot if you pay to see this movie.
Rotten Tomatoes rejects this farce, telling the New York Times their service has been a useful tool for moviegoers.
“Everyone here sweats the details every day,” said Paul Yanover, the president of Fandango, which owns Rotten Tomatoes. “Because we are serious movie fans ourselves, our priority — our entire focus — is being as useful to fans as we absolutely can be.”
“There is no question that there is some correlation to box office performance — critics matter — but I don’t think Rotten Tomatoes can definitively make or break a movie in either direction,” he continued. “Anyone who says otherwise is cherry-picking examples to create a hypothesis.”
Both D.C. films Suicide Squad and Batman v. Superman received low tomato scores, but performed well at the box office. Solid Rotten Tomato scores have also given non-franchise movies, like this summer's Dunkirk and Baby Driver, a chance to compete with movies which have previously built-in fanbases.