Rotten Tomatoes

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Rotten Tomatoes
Type of siteFilm review aggregator and forum
LaunchedAugust 12, 1998
Alexa ranknegative increase 679 (December 2013)[2]
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Rotten Tomatoes
Type of siteFilm review aggregator and forum
LaunchedAugust 12, 1998
Alexa ranknegative increase 679 (December 2013)[2]

Rotten Tomatoes is a website devoted to reviews, information, and news of films, widely known as a film review aggregator. Its name derives from the cliché of audiences throwing rotten tomatoes or vegetables at a poor stage performance. The company has been owned by Flixster, a Warner Bros. company, since May 2011, and was created by Senh Duong.

As of 2007, the website's editor-in-chief is Matt Atchity.[3]


Rotten Tomatoes was launched on August 12, 1998, as a spare time project by Senh Duong.[4] His goal in creating Rotten Tomatoes was "to create a site where people can get access to reviews from a variety of critics in the US".[5] His inspiration came when, as a fan of Jackie Chan, Duong started collecting all the reviews of Chan's movies as they were coming out in the United States. The first movie reviewed on Rotten Tomatoes was Your Friends & Neighbors. The website was an immediate success, receiving mentions by Yahoo!, Netscape, and USA Today within the first week of its launch; it attracted "600–1000 daily unique visitors" as a result.[citation needed]

Duong teamed up with 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, officially launching on April 1, 2000.[6]

In June 2004, IGN Entertainment acquired for an undisclosed sum.[7] In September 2005, IGN was bought by News Corp's Fox Interactive Media.[8] In January 2010, IGN sold the website to Flixster, which produces the most popular movie ratings app for the iPad and other mobile devices.[9] The combined reach of both companies is 30 million unique visitors a month across all different platforms, according to the companies.[10] In May 2011, Flixster was acquired by Warner Bros.[1]

Rotten Tomatoes users can create and join groups that allow them to discuss different aspects of film, and one group—"The Golden Oyster Awards"—has its members vote for their winners of different awards, much like the Oscars or Golden Globes. However, when Flixster bought Rotten Tomatoes, they disbanded the groups, saying: "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 topics."

As of February 2011, new community features have shown up and others have been removed. For example, users are no longer able to sort out 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 website.[11]


Rotten Tomatoes staff first collect online reviews from authors that are certified members of various writing guilds or film critic associations. To become a critic at the site, a critic's original reviews must garner a specific amount of "likes". Top Critics are generally ones who write for a notable newspaper. The staff then determine for each review whether it is positive ("fresh", marked by a small icon of a red tomato) or negative ("rotten", marked by a small icon of a green splattered tomato). At the end of the year, one film will receive the "Golden Tomato", meaning it is the highest rated film that year.[citation needed]

The website keeps track of all of the reviews counted (which can approach 300 for major, recently released films—currently the record is held by The Dark Knight Rises (2012) with 304 reviews counted[12][not in citation given]) and the percentage of positive reviews is tabulated. 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%, then the film is considered "rotten". In addition, major film reviewers like those at Roger, Desson Thomson, Stephen Hunter, Owen Gleiberman, Lisa Schwarzbaum, Peter Travers, and Michael Philips are listed in a sub-listing called "Top Critics", which tabulates their reviews separately, while still including their opinions in the general rating. When there are sufficient reviews to form a conclusion, a consensus statement is posted which is intended to articulate the general reasons for the collective opinion of the film.[citation needed]

A Certified Fresh logo.

This rating in turn is marked with an equivalent icon when the film is listed, giving the reader a one glance look at the general critical opinion about the work. Movies with a "Tomatometer" of 75% or better and at least 40 reviews from Tomatometer Critics (including 5 Top Critics) receive the "Certified Fresh" seal. Furthermore, films earning this status will keep it unless the critical percentage drops below 70%.[13] As a result of the requirements for quantity of ratings, there may be films with 100% positive ratings which don't have the certificate due to insufficient reviews to be sure of the "freshness".[citation needed]

In addition to reviews, Rotten Tomatoes hosts message forums, where thousands of participants take part in the discussion of movies, video games, music and other topics. In addition, users are able to rate and review films themselves. Every movie also features a "user average" that calculates the percentage of users that have rated the film positively in a manner similar to how the critics' reviews are calculated. However, this score is more specific as the users are able to rate the movie on a scale of 0–10 (compared to critic reviews, which usually use 4-star ratings and are often simply qualitative). A user score of 7 (equivalent to 3.5 stars on a 5-star scale) or higher is considered positive. In January 2010, on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the New York Film Critics Circle, Armond White, its chairman, cited Rotten Tomatoes in particular and film review aggregators in general, as examples of how "the Internet takes revenge on individual expression" 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 assessment".[14]


Localized versions of the site are available in Britain, India and Australia. Readers accessing Rotten Tomatoes from France and Germany are automatically redirected to the British version of the site that provides local release dates, cinema listings, box office results and promotes reviews from British critics. The US version is available via a "US site" button on the homepage. The localized versions of the site contain all of the US editorial content, reviews and film lists and are augmented by local content maintained by an international editor based in Los Angeles.

The Rotten Tomatoes Show[edit]

The Rotten Tomatoes Show on Current
GenreMovie Review Program
Created byCurrent
Written byMark Ganek
Ellen Fox
Joel Church-Cooper
Presented byBrett Erlich
Ellen Fox
Daniel Higgs
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes77
Executive producer(s)Jeffrey Plunkett
Brett Erlich
Producer(s)Ben Stein
John Lichman
Editor(s)Dan Stoneberg
Szu-Hua Wang
James Stanton
Running time22 minutes
Original channelCurrent TV
Original runMarch 5, 2009 – September 16, 2010
Followed byRotten Tomatoes on InfoMania

In early 2009, Current Television launched the televised version of the web review site, The Rotten Tomatoes Show, which 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.[15] Depending on when an episode is filmed and originally aired, ratings of movies might differ from ratings currently found on the website. The last episode aired on September 16, 2010, although it did return as a much shorter segment of InfoMania.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Warner Bros. – press release". Cision Wire. Retrieved 2011-05-04. 
  2. ^ " Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2013-12-01. 
  3. ^ Matt Atchity on The Young Turks Show
  4. ^ Lazarus, David (April 26, 2001). "San Francisco Chronicle, 2001". Retrieved 2013-01-12. 
  5. ^ "Senh Duong interview, 2000". August 19, 1999. Retrieved 2009-12-04. 
  6. ^ Ryan, Tim. "Rotten Tomatoes Oral History". Retrieved 2009-12-04. 
  7. ^ "Hollywood Reporter". June 29, 2004. Retrieved 2009-12-04. [dead link]
  8. ^ "Hollywood Reporter, 9/9/05". Retrieved 2009-12-04. [dead link]
  9. ^ Graser, Marc (January 4, 2010). "Flixster buys Rotten Tomatoes". Variety. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  10. ^ News Corp. Unloads Rotten Tomatoes Onto Flixster | TechCrunch
  11. ^ Atchity, Matt. "Welcome to the Rotten Tomatoes TV Zone". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 17 September 2013. 
  12. ^ "The Dark Knight Rises — Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-06-12. 
  13. ^ "What is Certified Fresh?". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-12-04. 
  14. ^ White, Armond (April 2010). "Do Movie Critics Matter?". First Things. Retrieved 2001-03-26. 
  15. ^ "The Rotten tomatoes show on current". November 23, 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-04. 

External links[edit]