Hollywood likes to use a scapegoat for its failures, and this year one of its biggest targets is that of Rotten Tomatoes – the critical aggregator that has been blamed for various films underperforming.
Of course any serious analysis shows that there’s no real correlation between a critical aggregate score and box-office, as seen this past weekend when “Blade Runner 2049” scored a strong 88% score on the site but has notably underperformed.
In an op-ed piece for THR, Martin Scorsese has shared his take on Rotten Tomatoes, the more audience-oriented CinemaScore, and the race by media to report on both box-office and review scores such as they recently did when Darren Aronofsky’s “mother!” received a rare F-grade CinemaScore. He says:
“The brutal judgmentalism that has made opening weekend grosses into a bloodthirsty spectator sport seems to have encouraged an even more brutal approach to film reviewing.
I’m talking about market research firms like Cinemascore, which started in the late 1970s, and online “aggregators” like Rotten Tomatoes, which have absolutely nothing to do with real film criticism. They rate a picture the way you’d rate a horse at the racetrack, a restaurant in a Zagat’s guide, or a household appliance in Consumer Reports.
They have everything to do with the movie business and absolutely nothing to do with either the creation or the intelligent viewing of film. The filmmaker is reduced to a content manufacturer and the viewer to an unadventurous consumer.
These firms and aggregators have set a tone that is hostile to serious filmmakers – even the actual name Rotten Tomatoes is insulting. And as film criticism written by passionately engaged people with actual knowledge of film history has gradually faded from the scene, it seems like there are more and more voices out there engaged in pure judgmentalism, people who seem to take pleasure in seeing films and filmmakers rejected, dismissed and in some cases ripped to shreds.
Good films by real filmmakers aren’t made to be decoded, consumed or instantly comprehended. They’re not even made to be instantly liked. They’re just made, because the person behind the camera had to make them.
The full piece can be found here. Scorsese’s most recent film, “Silence,” scored a strong 84% on Rotten Tomatoes but notably flopped at the box-office.