Amazingly, after a cinematic summer that produced such gems as the zillionth King Arthur update and The Emoji Movie, some filmmakers blamed 2017’s lousy box office returns on Rotten Tomatoes. You know, the review aggregation site that announces which percentage of film critics think a movie is good or bad? While Rotten Tomatoes surely cannot be held accountable for the quality of the films it reviews, the site has decided to take itself to task for which reviewers it factors into its ruling.
Although any and all permutations of the critical body that deemed King Arthur (2017 edition) unnecessary would likely come to the same conclusion, the same cannot be said for all films. Each new release’s positive or negative percentage is based on “Tomatometer-approved critics’ reviews of that movie,” but who exactly counts as a Tomatometer-approved critic and why? As a new editorial from the site announced on Tuesday, all the old rules around this subject are about to change.
At the time Rotten Tomatoes was born, a full 20 years ago, many of the review platforms people rely on today did not exist. There were the legacy media outlets and some upstart movie-centered websites, and that was about it. The word ‘blog’ had not yet been coined in the popular imagination, and YouTube was still seven years away. In 2018, though, there are more opportunities to find a reviewer closer to your personal tastes than ever before. And now, with a retooled Critics Criteria, Rotten Tomatoes agrees there is no reason anyone shouldn’t be able to do so.
“In revamping our Critics Criteria,” the editorial reads, “we sought to bring the criteria into better alignment with the way media works today, to promote the inclusion of more voices that reflect the varied groups of people who consume entertainment, and to maintain the high standards we’ve always set for inclusion in the group of Tomatometer-approved critics.
“When assessing applications from those wishing to be a Tomatometer-approved critic, or a Tomatometer-approved publication, we now take into consideration four key values as well as a revised set of eligibility requirements. These values are Insight, Audience, Quality, and Dedication, and you can find a full breakdown of each value here.
“On our critics page, you can meet some of the critics who embody these values, among them more than 200 critics who have been Tomatometer-approved as of today. And stay tuned, because we will be adding hundreds more as the year goes on.”
It’s a huge step for the platform toward more diverse critical ingredients coming together to make the stew that is each film’s Tomatometer percentage. Don’t be surprised, however, when filmmakers dissatisfied with the low box-office take of their latest offering continue to blame a commensurate Rotten Tomatoes score.