Appearing at the Sun Valley Film Festival this week, director and producer Brett Ratner went on the offensive against the website Rotten Tomatoes. The source has long been considered a solid barometer in which to view the moviegoing public's response to a release. But the filmmaker argued that the lack of oversight is part of a bigger problem in the industry.
While there is certainly a lot of merit to this perspective, many will find it rich that a man who had a major hand in productions like Movie 43, Hercules, Tower Heist and Horrible Bosses can lecture the audience on their preferences. That experience would have made him incredibly cynical of the entire process, something which he expanded on at the festival.
Criticism Used To Be An Art Form: Ratner
With the passing of the iconic Roger Ebert in recent times and the advent of consumer-driven content, Ratner went as far as to say Rotten Tomatoes was a key contributor to the destruction of the movie business. He is not alone in this sense, with the site petitioned to shut down following the upheaval of Suicide Squad and BvS ratings.
“The worst thing that we have in today’s movie culture is Rotten Tomatoes. I think it’s the destruction of our business," he remarked to Entertainment Weekly. "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.”
Rather: The Death of the Genuine Critic
The 47-year old went a step further, putting forward the notion that genuine film critique was all but dead. A hyperbolic statement to say the least.
“It’s mind-blowing. It’s just insane, it’s hurting the business, it’s getting people to not see a movie. 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.”
RT Agree With Ratner, But Push For Context
As opposed to letting the comments sit out there without a repost, Jeff Voris from Rotten Tomatoes surprisingly agreed with many of the points the filmmaker put forward. However, he did stress how crucial it was for the website to delve into the detail and urged prospective moviegoers to branch out their research before making a final decision.
“At Rotten Tomatoes, we completely agree that film criticism is valuable and important, and we’re making it easier than it has ever been for fans to access potentially hundreds of professional reviews for a given film or TV show in one place," Voris stated. "The Tomatometer score, which is the percentage of positive reviews published by professional critics, has become a useful decision-making tool for fans, but we believe it’s just a starting point for them to begin discussing, debating and sharing their own opinions.”