is an American review-aggregation website for film and
television. The company was launched in August 1998 by three
undergraduate students at the University of California, Berkeley: Senh
Duong, Patrick Y. Lee, and Stephen
Wang. The name "Rotten
Tomatoes" derives from the practice of audiences throwing rotten
tomatoes when disapproving of a poor stage performance.
Since January 2010,
has been owned by Flixster, which
was in turn acquired by
in 2011. In February 2016, Rotten
Tomatoes and its parent site
were sold to Comcast's
retained a minority stake in the
merged entities, including Fandango.
Critic aggregate score
3.1.1 Tomatometer Rankings
3.2 Critics consensus
3.3 Audience score and reviews
3.4 Localized versions
6 See also
8 Further reading
9 External links
Fandango headquarters in Beverly Hills (home to Rotten Tomatoes)
Rotten Tomatoes was launched on August 12, 1998, as a spare-time
project by Senh Duong. His objective in creating Rotten
Tomatoes was "to create a site where people can get access to reviews
from a variety of critics in the U.S." As a fan of Jackie
Chan, Duong was inspired to create the website after collecting all
the reviews of Chan's
Hong Kong action movies
Hong Kong action movies as they were being
released in the United States. The catalyst for the creation of the
website was Rush Hour (1998), Chan's first major Hollywood crossover,
which was originally planned to release in August 1998. Duong coded
the website in two weeks and the site went live the same month, but
Rush Hour itself ended up being pushed back to September 1998. Besides
Jackie Chan films, he began including other films on Rotten Tomatoes,
extending it beyond Chan's fandom. The first
Hollywood movie whose reviews were featured on Rotten
Tomatoes was Your Friends & Neighbors (1998). The website was an
immediate success, receiving mentions by Netscape, Yahoo!, and USA
Today within the first week of its launch; it attracted "600–1000
daily unique visitors" as a result.
Duong teamed up with
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley classmates
Patrick Y. Lee and Stephen Wang, his former partners at the Berkeley,
California-based web design firm Design Reactor, to pursue Rotten
Tomatoes on a full-time basis. They officially launched it on April 1,
In June 2004,
IGN Entertainment acquired
Rotten Tomatoes for an
undisclosed sum. In September 2005,
IGN was bought by News
Corp's Fox Interactive Media. In January 2010,
the website to Flixster. The combined reach of both
companies is 30 million unique visitors a month across all different
platforms, according to the companies. In 2011, Warner
Bros. acquired Rotten Tomatoes.
In early 2009, Current Television launched the televised version of
the web review site, The
Rotten Tomatoes Show. It was hosted by Brett
Erlich and Ellen Fox and written by Mark Ganek. The show aired every
Thursday at 10:30 EST on the
Current TV network. The last
episode aired on September 16, 2010. It returned as a much shorter
segment of InfoMania, a satirical news show that ended in
By late 2009, the website was designed to enable
Rotten Tomatoes users
to create and join groups to discuss various aspects of film. One
group, "The Golden Oyster Awards", accepted votes of members for
various awards, spoofing the better-known Academy Awards or Golden
Flixster bought the company, they disbanded the groups,
announcing: "The Groups area has been discontinued to pave the way for
new community features coming soon. In the meantime, please use the
Forums to continue your conversations about your favorite movie
As of February 2011, new community features have been added and others
removed. For example, users can no longer sort films by Fresh Ratings
from Rotten Ratings, and vice versa.
On September 17, 2013, a section devoted to scripted television
series, called "TV Zone", was created as a subsection of the
In February 2016,
Rotten Tomatoes and its parent site
sold to Comcast's Fandango. Warner Bros retained a minority stake in
the merged entities, including Fandango.
In December 2016, Fandango and all its various websites moved to Fox
Interactive Media's former headquarters in Beverly Hills.
In July 2017, the website's editor-in-chief since 2007, Matt Atchity,
left to join The Young Turks. On November 1, 2017, the
site launched a new web series on Facebook, See It/Skip It, hosted by
Jacqueline Coley and Segun Oduolowu.
In March 2018, the site announced its new design, icons and logo for
the first time in 19 years at SXSW.
Rotten Tomatoes is a top 1000 site, placing around #400 globally and
top 150 for the US only, according to website ranker
Alexa. Monthly unique visitors to the rottentomatoes.com
domain is 26M global (14.4M US) according to audience measurement
Critic aggregate score
Rotten Tomatoes staff first collect online reviews from writers who
are certified members of various writing guilds or film
critic-associations. To be accepted as a critic on the website, a
critic's original reviews must garner a specific number of "likes"
from users. Those classified as "Top Critics" generally write for
major newspapers. The critics upload their reviews to the movie page
on the website, and need to mark their review "fresh" if it's
generally favorable or "rotten" otherwise. It is necessary for the
critic to do so as some reviews are qualitative and do not grant a
numeric score, making it impossible for the system to be
The website keeps track of all the reviews counted for each film and
calculates the percentage of positive reviews. Major, recently
released films can attract more than 400 reviews. If the positive
reviews make up 60% or more, the film is considered "fresh", in that a
supermajority of the reviewers approve of the film. If the positive
reviews are less than 60%, the film is considered "rotten". An average
score on a 0 to 10 scale is also calculated. With each review, a short
excerpt of the review is quoted that also serves a hyperlink to the
complete review essay for anyone interested to read the critic's full
thoughts on the subject.
"Top Critics", such as Roger Ebert, Desson Thomson, Stephen Hunter,
Owen Gleiberman, Lisa Schwarzbaum,
Peter Travers and Michael Phillips
are identified in a sub-listing that calculates their reviews
separately. Their opinions are also included in the general rating.
When there are sufficient reviews, the staff creates and posts a
consensus statement to express the general reasons for the collective
opinion of the film.
This rating is indicated by an equivalent icon at the film listing, to
give the reader a one-glance look at the general critical opinion
about the work. The "Certified Fresh" seal is reserved for movies that
satisfy two criteria: a "Tomatometer" of 75% or better and at least 80
reviews (40 for limited release movies) from "Tomatometer" critics
(including 5 Top Critics). Films earning this status will keep it
unless the positive critical percentage drops below 70%.
Films with 100% positive ratings but fewer than required reviews may
not receive the "Certified Fresh" seal.
Certified Fresh: Wide-release films with a score of 75% or higher that
are reviewed by at least 80 critics, of which 5 are "Top Critics", are
given this seal. The "Certified Fresh" seal remains until the score
drops below 70%. Films with limited releases require only
40 reviews (including 5 from "Top Critics") to qualify for this seal.
For TV shows, only individual seasons are eligible for consideration,
and each must have at least 20 critic reviews.
Fresh: Films or TV shows with a score of 60% or higher that do not
meet the requirements for the "Certified Fresh" seal.
Rotten: Films or TV shows with a score of 0–59% receive this seal.
When a film or TV show reaches the requirements for the "Certified
Fresh," it is not automatically granted the seal, but is instead
flagged for the staff's consideration. Once the team assesses the
reviews and response to the film or TV show, and decide that it is
unlikely that the score will fall below the minimum requirements in
the future, they will then mark it as "Certified Fresh."
In the year 2000,
Rotten Tomatoes announced the RT Awards honoring the
best-reviewed films of the year according to the website's rating
system. This was later renamed the Golden Tomato
Awards. The nominees and winners are announced on the
website, although there is no actual awards ceremony.
The films are divided into wide release and limited release
categories. Limited releases are defined as opening in 599 or fewer
theaters at initial release. Platform releases, movies initially
released under 600 theaters but later receiving wider distribution,
fall under this definition. Any film opening in more than 600 theaters
is considered wide release. There are also two categories
purely for British and Australian films. The "User"-category
represents the highest rated film among users, and the "Mouldy"-award
represents the worst-reviewed films of the year. A movie must have 40
(originally 20) or more rated reviews to be considered for domestic
categories. It must have 500 or more user ratings to be considered for
Films are further classified based on film genre. Each movie is
eligible in only one genre, aside from non-English language films,
which can be included in both their genre and the respective "Foreign"
Once a film is considered eligible, its "votes" are counted. Each
critic from the website's list gets one vote (as determined by their
review), all weighted equally. Because reviews are continually added,
manually and otherwise, a cutoff date at which new reviews are not
counted toward the Golden
Tomato awards is initiated each year,
usually the first of the new year. Reviews without ratings are not
counted toward the results of the Golden
Each movie features a brief summary of the reviews used in that
entry's Tomatometer aggregate score. These are written by Jeff Giles,
a longtime author for the site.
Audience score and reviews
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and negative audience score icons
Each movie features a "user average", which calculates the percentage
of registered users who have rated the film positively on a 5-star
scale, similar to calculation of recognized critics' reviews.
Localized versions of the site available in the United Kingdom, India,
Australia were discontinued following the acquisition of Rotten
Tomatoes by Fandango. The Mexican version of the site
Tomatazos [es] remains active.
Rotten Tomatoes API provides limited access to critic and audience
ratings and reviews, allowing developers to incorporate Rotten
Tomatoes data on other websites. The free service is intended for use
in the US only; permission is required for use elsewhere.
Major Hollywood studios have come to see
Rotten Tomatoes as a threat
to their marketing. In 2017 several blockbuster films like Pirates of
the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Baywatch and The Mummy were
projected to open with gross receipts of $90 million, $50 million and
$45 million respectively, but ended up debuting with $62.6 million,
$23.1 million and $31.6 million. Rotten Tomatoes, which gave the films
low scores of 30%, 19% and 16%, was blamed for undermining them. That
same summer, films like Wonder Woman and Spider-Man: Homecoming (both
92%) received high scores and opened on par or exceeded expectations
with their $100+ million
As result of this concern,
20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox commissioned a 2015 study,
Rotten Tomatoes and Box Office", that stated the website
combined with social media was going to be an increasingly serious
complication for the film business: "The power of
Rotten Tomatoes and
fast-breaking word of mouth will only get stronger. Many Millennials
and even Gen X-ers now vet every purchase through the Internet,
whether it's restaurants, video games, make-up, consumer electronics
or movies. As they get older and comprise an even larger share of
total moviegoers, this behavior is unlikely to change".
Other studios have commissioned a number of studies on the subject,
with them finding that seven out of 10 people said they would be less
interested in seeing a film if the
Rotten Tomatoes score was 0-25, and
that the site has the most influence on people 25 and
The scores have reached a level of online ubiquity which film
companies have found threatening. For instance, the scores are
regularly posted in
Google search results for films so reviewed.
Furthermore, the scores are prominently featured in Fandango's popular
ticket purchasing website and its mobile app, Flixster, which led to
complaints that "rotten" scores damaged films'
Others have argued that filmmakers and studios have only themselves to
Rotten Tomatoes produces a bad score, as this only reflects a
poor reception among film critics. As one independent film distributor
marketing executive noted, "To me, it's a ridiculous argument that
Rotten Tomatoes is the problem ... make a good movie!".
ComScore's Paul Dergarabedian had similar comments, saying: "The best
way for studios to combat the '
Rotten Tomatoes Effect' is to make
better movies, plain and simple".
Some studios have suggested embargoing or cancelling early critic
screenings in a response to poor reviews prior to a film's release
affecting pre-sales and opening weekend numbers. In July
2017, Sony embargoed critic reviews for
The Emoji Movie
The Emoji Movie until mid-day
the Thursday before its release. The film ended up with a 9% rating
(including 0% after the first 25 reviews), but still opened to $24
million, on par with projections. Josh Greenstein, Sony Pictures
President of Worldwide Marketing and Distribution, said: "The Emoji
Movie was built for people under 18 ... so we wanted to give the movie
its best chance. What other wide release with a score under 8 percent
has opened north of $20 million? I don't think there is one".
Warner Bros. also did not do critic pre-screenings for The
House, which ended up with a 16% rating, until the day of its release,
but it still opened to just $8.7 million, the lowest of star Will
That marketing tactic can backfire, and drew the vocal disgust of
influential critics such as Roger Ebert, who was prone to derisively
condemn such moves, with gestures such as "The Wagging Finger of
Shame", on At the Movies. Furthermore, the very nature of
withholding reviews can draw early conclusions from the public that
the film is of poor quality because of that marketing
On February 26, 2019, in response to issues surrounding coordinated
"bombing" of user reviews for several films, most notably Captain
Marvel and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, prior to their release,
the site announced that user reviews would no longer be accepted until
a film is publicly released. The site also announced plans to
introduce a system for "verified" reviews, and that the "Want to See"
statistic would now be expressed as a number so that it is not
confused with the audience score.
In January 2010, on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the New
York Film Critics Circle, its chairman
Armond White cited Rotten
Tomatoes in particular and film review aggregators in general as
examples of how "the Internet takes revenge on individual expression".
He said they work by "dumping reviewers onto one website and assigning
spurious percentage-enthusiasm points to the discrete reviews".
According to White, such websites "offer consensus as a substitute for
Director and producer
Brett Ratner has criticized the website for
"reducing hundreds of reviews culled from print and online sources
into a popularized aggregate score", and feels it is the "worst thing
that we have in today's movie culture". Writer Max Landis,
following his film Victor Frankenstein receiving an approval rating of
24% on the site, wrote that the site "breaks down entire reviews into
just the word 'yes' or 'no', making criticism binary in a destructive
Martin Scorsese wrote a column in The Hollywood
Reporter criticizing both
Rotten Tomatoes and
promoting the idea that films like
Mother! had to be "instantly liked"
to be successful.
While promoting the film Suffragette (which has a "fresh"
rating) in 2015, actress
Meryl Streep accused Rotten
Tomatoes of disproportionately representing the opinions of male film
critics, resulting in a skewed ratio that adversely affected the
commercial performances of female-driven movies. "I submit to you that
men and women are not the same, they like different things", she said.
"Sometimes they like the same thing, but sometimes their tastes
diverge. If the Tomatometer is slighted so completely to one set of
tastes that drives box office in the United States,
Rotten Tomatoes deliberately withheld the critic score for Justice
League based on early reviews until the premiere of its See It/Skip It
episode on the Thursday before its release. Some critics viewed the
move as a ploy to promote the web series, but some argued that the
move was a deliberate conflict of interest on account of Warner Bros.'
ownership of the film and Rotten Tomatoes, and the tepid critical
reception to the
DC Extended Universe
DC Extended Universe films at the time.
Internet Movie Database (IMDb)
List of films with a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes
List of films with a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes
^ Spangler, Todd; Spangler, Todd (May 23, 2019). "Rotten Tomatoes
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NBCUniversal (Comcast) (70%)
Warner Bros. (WarnerMedia) (30%)
Films with a 0% ra