The writer/producer slammed the site while at the Sun Valley Film Festival. According to Ratner, it’s not reviews that he has an issue with. Instead, it’s the rotten vs. fresh percentage that greets the reader. He cited notorious site sh*tstorm generator Batman v Superman as a prime example of his issue with Rotten Tomatoes. Seeing as his company RatPac Entertainment co-produced the film, there’s a personal factor woven into this beef.
“The worst thing that we have in today’s movie culture is Rotten Tomatoes,” said Ratner. “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.”
Ratner’s criticism that the aggregate nature or a Rotten Tomatoes or a Metacritic obscures the details of the reviews isn’t unfair, but on the other hand critically feted movies are no guarantee for financial success. Critics splooshing en masse to Toni Erdmann isn’t exactly a leg up on the box office chances of the Tower Heists of the world. (Tower Heist was certified fresh on the site, for what it’s worth.)
“It’s mind-blowing. It’s just insane, it’s hurting the business, it’s getting people to not see a movie,” declared Ratner. “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.”
Speaking as someone from the Canadian equivalent of Middle America, you might be overestimating how closely folks look at reviews, dude. Ratner’s point is understandable, though. Critical acclaim isn’t everything and the green splatter of bad reviews might give a prospective filmgoer an unfair bias if they don’t read the content. Still, is it fair to cite the largely toxic reviews for Batman v Superman as the reason why it wasn’t more of a cultural/financial juggernaut? That’s debatable. Sometimes we can largely agree that something sucks. Being more demanding of the quality of a movie isn’t a bad thing. That applies to critics, studios, filmgoers and producers.
(Via Entertainment Weekly)