For all film-goers, two sites have always been the guiding point for films when spoiled for choice. IMBD and Rotten Tomatoes have now become synonymous with the word rating itself. But have you ever wondered how do they decide which film is worth watching? Here is how Rotten Tomatoes works and why perhaps it could be cheating you.

Rated Fresh , one of three possible ratings

How Rotten Tomatoes Works

Rotten Tomatoes can give a film one of three possible ratings. A movie can be rated either rotten, fresh or certified fresh. A film is given Rotten when less than 60% critics give a positive review. A Fresh film for those above 60%. A Certified Fresh rating is given when a film has a rating of 75% or better. Movies opening in limited screens need at least 40 reviews from Tomatometer Critics which include 5 Top Critics. Movies opening worldwide need at least 80 reviews which must also include 5 Top Critics. A TV show must have a score of 75% OR better with at least 20 reviews which again must include 5 Top Critics. If the score ever drops below 70% then the movie or show loses its Certified Fresh status.

Up Movie Rotten Tomatoes
Up with a Rotten Tomatoes Rating of 98%

The Problem With The System

If one understands the way that Rotten Tomatoes works then the problem only becomes even more apparent. The rating is given as an average of what a group of critics think about the movie rather than an exact rating of the movie itself. The % on Rotten Tomatoes is not an index for quality but rather how much critical consensus is present about whether the movie was decent or not. It is the average of all the reviews of the movie.

For example, the movie Up was given a Rotten Tomatoes score of 98% while Dunkirk was also given a score of 92%. To a person who just googled the rating of both, it could very well mean that Up was better than much better than Dunkirk. However when the average ratings are checked Up scores an average rating of 8.7/10 while Dunkirk scores 8.66/10. That’s an extremely small difference. But why was there such a gap in the ratings though? The answer is variance. The reason Dunkirk was given a lower score because there was simply less agreement on the data. More variance present means a lesser score.

Dunkirk Rotten Tomatoes
Dunkirk with Rotten Tomatoes Rating of 92%.

As long as people understand that the score is based on critical consensus then the Rotten Tomatoes is a useful ratings aggregator . However, to get a more personal and specific review, you should always read the opinions of the critics you trust the most.

To read some unbiased film reviews,click here.

To go to Rotten Tomatoes and find out more on their rating, click here.

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