Rotten Tomatoes: Certified Fresh?

This summer, the movie reviews site Rotten Tomatoes sparked controversy after its critics gave a poor score to “Suicide Squad” despite positive reactions from fans.

Rotten Tomatoes provides an explanation on their website that the “tomatometer,” which is used to score movies and TV shows, is “based on the published opinions of hundreds of film and television critics.” The three ratings ““ rotten, fresh and certified fresh ““ reflect the amount of positive reviews critics have said about a movie.

In the tomatometer format, the numerical value a movie receives on Rotten Tomatoes serves simply to summarize the “percentage of positive professional reviews.” Rotten Tomatoes provides access to the reviews’ sources, which includes over 200 critics from about two dozen different film critic groups.

The site offers short passages of critics’ ideas and links to their full works, and also includes audience reviews alongside the critics’ opinions. Ongoing discussion about recently released films takes place in each movie’s forum, which primarily involves fans responding to critics’ opinions.

Critics and audience reviewers generally come to a consensus when rating movies, but in the case of “Suicide Squad,” the critics’ and fans’ reactions to the film are significantly different.

A brief look at the discussion forum for “Suicide Squad” proves that many non-critic viewers have expressed positive reactions to the film, and displeasure with the Rotten Tomatoes system. “I don’t get it, Rotten Tomatoes was a site to gain insight. These reviews are so misleading,” said one fan reviewer.

Though the fans and critics don’t match opinions on this summer film, the box office earnings suggest that the movie is doing better than a typical movie with bad reviews would. For two weekends in a row, “Suicide Squad” has sat at the top with an estimated $43 million earned, and set a new record for an opening weekend in August.

Since the ticket sales and movie reviews have fallen out of sync for what was a highly anticipated film, why did people decide to see a poorly reviewed movie?

One possible explanation lies in the underestimated devotion of DC Comics fans. After the initial poor results of “Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” earlier in the year, there was hope that “Suicide Squad” could make up for the failure. The timing of the film’s release could also have contributed to the record breaking opening weekend, but without in-depth research it would be mostly speculation.

The Rotten Tomatoes controversy between critics and fans is a familiar tension in the entertainment business, but it will be interesting to see how the tension will influence future reviews and the production of new DC films.