Rotten Tomatoes and DC just do not get along, which is particularly odd considering Warner Brothers owns both companies. During the duration of the DC Cinematic Universe, Rotten Tomatoes has played a controversial hand in seemingly all of their films, leading to much ire from diehard superhero fans.
The critic-aggregated site in general has had a noteworthy year, being blamed by studios and stars alike for their film’s failure (looking at you The Rock). What those complainers don’t realize is that they are continuing to surrender more power to the site, which is starting to feel like Judge Dredd determining the fate of several films. All of the thoughtful analysis of critics is boiled into a simplistic number, a figure that fans these days ultimately define movies by.
Aside from critical darling Wonder Woman, every film so far in the DC Cinematic Universe has been rated rotten by the site, with each film having a big gap between critical rating and audience rating. Justice League so far has the most spark contrast, with there being a nearly 50% gap between the two.
Everyone sees information like this and immediately wants to point fingers. Are critics out of touch or are audiences just going into movies wanting to like them? The answer to both questions is neither are true, and that is something that fans and critics need to realize instead of going to war with one another. Its all a matter of opinion, with both sides coming from different angles.
I would say the problem with all sides in the matter is the looking at a simple number rather than analyzing the picture at hand. Rather than having any particular interest in what either has to say, both sides just determine their thoughts on a simple number. What fans and critics are starting to see is that studios are getting smarter about the reliance on this number.
Red Letter Media did an interesting dive on the film Annabelle: Creation, which I reviewed and noted as one of the year’s worst horror films. What surprised me about disliking the film was for much of the weeks leading up to its release, the film scored a 100% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. What I didn’t realize was that 100% was faulty. It was composed of only 22 reviews, and those reviews were only of those who saw the film at Comic Con, which featured more genre fans than standard critics.
So for weeks Warner Brothers touted that score during its marketing campaign, which surely played a role in the film’s massive success. However, two days away from its release, that rating began to drop substantially, dropping as low as 62%, which is barely fresh on the site. Warner Brothers pulled a brilliant move, manipulating the perception of many to think this was a great film when it flat out wasn’t.
Maybe its just a simple conspiracy? Well Warner Brothers again showed this week the power of Rotten Tomatoes, making big news by deciding to delay the release of the RT score for Justice League. Despite dozens of reviews being out, the site did not post a single one of them, rather than waiting till midnight to reveal via a Rotten Tomatoes-produced video the score.
This whole controversy drove me up the wall, because it was clearly another example of a studio meddling with the site in order to receive public favor. News pundits everywhere spent the whole day guessing the figure, when they could have just simply googled a few reviews to find out the film’s consensus. It wasn’t till Thursday at noon the site actually updated with its ratings and reviews, with Warner Bros clearly trying to hide the information without having the stink of a late embargo.
Rotten Tomatoes is a useful resource, heck even I check it daily to see how the meter changes. The key is to use that resource as its intended, as an aggregate of reviews and fan opinions. Instead of just looking into the numbers, lets all take a look at what each side has to say. Because as someone who has hated doing match his whole life, its nice to say f*ck numbers!