Rotten Tomatoes

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Rotten Tomatoes
Web address
Commercial? Yes
Type of site
Film review aggregator and user community
Registration Optional
Launched August 12, 1998; 17 years ago (1998-08-12)
Alexa rank
Increase 512 (Sept 2015)[2]

Rotten Tomatoes is a website launched in 1998 devoted to film reviews and news; it is widely known as a film review aggregator. Coverage now includes TV content as well. The name derives from the practice of audiences throwing rotten tomatoes when disapproving of a poor stage performance. The company was created by Senh Duong and since January 2010 has been owned by Flixster, which itself was acquired in 2011 by Warner Bros.

Since 2007, the website's editor-in-chief has been Matt Atchity.[3] Localized versions are available in the United Kingdom, India and Australia. From early 2009 to September 2010, Current Television aired the weekly The Rotten Tomatoes Show, featuring hosts and material from the website. A shorter segment was incorporated into the weekly show, InfoMania, but it ended in 2011. In September 2013, the website introduced "TV Zone", a section for reviewing scripted TV shows.


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 U.S."[5] As a fan of Jackie Chan, Duong was inspired to create the website after collecting all the reviews of Chan's movies as they were being published in the United States. The first movie whose reviews were featured 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. They officially launched it 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.[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]

By late 2009, the website was designed to enable Rotten Tomatoes users to create and join groups to discuss different aspects of film. One group, "The Golden Oyster Awards", accepted votes of members for different awards, as if in parallel to the better-known Oscars or Golden Globes. When 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 topics."[citation needed]

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 website.[11]


Rotten Tomatoes is a top 1000 site, placing around #500 globally, and top 200 for the US only, according to website ranker, Alexa.[12] Monthly unique visitors to the domain is 26M global (14.4M US) according to audience measurement service, Quantcast.[13]

Tomatometer critic aggregate score[edit]

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 staff 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). (Staff assessment is needed as some reviews are qualitative rather than numeric in ranking.)

Icon Score Description
Certified Fresh.svg 75–100% Certified Fresh. Films reviewed by at least 40 critics
(including 5 "Top Critics") are given this seal. They
would lose that seal if their scores drop below 70%.
Rotten Tomatoes.jpg 60–100% Fresh. The exception, "60–<74%", is when a film
garnered at least 40 critics (including 5 "Top Critics").
Rotten Tomatoes rotten.jpg ≤0-59% Rotten. Films with this score receive this seal.

The website keeps track of all of the reviews counted for each film and the percentage of positive reviews is calculated. (Major, recently released films can attract up to 300 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".

"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.[citation needed]

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 40 reviews from Tomatometer Critics (including 5 Top Critics). Films earning this status would keep it unless the positive critical percentage drop below 70%.[14] Films with 100% positive ratings but fewer than required reviews may not receive the "Certified Fresh" seal.

Golden Tomato Awards[edit]

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.[15] This was later renamed the Golden Tomato Awards.[16] 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 500 or less 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.[16] 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 the User category.

Films are further classified based on film genre. Each movie is eligible in only one genre, aside from non-English films, which can be included in both their genre and the respective "Foreign" category.

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 are initiated each year, usually the first of the new year. Reviews without ratings are not counted toward the results of the Golden Tomato Awards.[16]

Critics Consensus[edit]

Each movie features a brief summary of the reviews used in that entry's Tomatometer aggregate score.

Audience Score and reviews[edit]

Each movie features a "user average", which calculates the percentage of users who have rated the film positively, similar to calculation of recognized critics' reviews. The users' score is more detailed, because users rate the movie on a scale of 0–10. (Critic reviews generally use 4-star ratings and are often qualitative). A user score of 7 (equivalent to 3.5 stars on a 5-star scale) or higher is considered positive. Registered and logged-in users can rate and review movies.

Membership and user accounts[edit]

Free registration on the site gives immediate access to a user profile and a variety of features, including the ability to rate and review movies, discussion forums, and a members messaging system similar to email. Registration requires first and last name, birthdate, and email address (verified by email reply), passing a CAPTCHA test, and accepting the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Alternatively, a Facebook login may be used to create and access a user account.


Rotten Tomatoes message forums allow participants to discuss movies, video games, music and other topics.

Localized versions[edit]

Localized versions of the site are available in Britain, India, Australia and Mexico ( Readers accessing Rotten Tomatoes from France and Germany are automatically redirected to the British version of the site, which 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.[citation needed]


The Rotten Tomatoes API (Application Program Interface) 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.[17]

The Rotten Tomatoes Show[edit]

The Rotten Tomatoes Show on Current
Genre Movie Review Program
Created by Current
Written by Mark Ganek
Ellen Fox
Joel Church-Cooper
Presented by Brett Erlich
Ellen Fox
Daniel Higgs
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 77
Executive producer(s) Jeffrey Plunkett
Brett Erlich
Producer(s) Ben Stein
John Lichman
Editor(s) Dan Stoneberg
Szu-Hua Wang
James Stanton
Running time 22 minutes
Original network Current TV
Original release March 5, 2009 – September 16, 2010
Followed by Rotten Tomatoes on InfoMania

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.[18] Depending on when an episode was filmed and originally aired, ratings of movies might differ from ratings currently found on the website. The last episode aired on September 16, 2010. It returned as a much shorter segment of InfoMania, a satirical news show that ended in 2011.


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."[19] He said they work by "dumping reviewers onto one website and assigning spurious percentage-enthusiasm points to the discrete reviews."[19] According to White, such websites "offer consensus as a substitute for assessment."[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Warner Bros. – press release". Cision Wire. Retrieved May 4, 2011. 
  2. ^ " Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved September 4, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Matt Atchity", The Young Turks Show, January 22, 2009
  4. ^ Lazarus, David (April 26, 2001). "Fresh Look For Rotten Tomatoes / Help from college buddies elevates movie-rating website beyond hobby status". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved January 12, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Senh Duong interview, 2000". August 19, 1999. Retrieved December 4, 2009. 
  6. ^ Ryan, Tim. "Rotten Tomatoes Oral History". Retrieved December 4, 2009. 
  7. ^ "???". The Hollywood Reporter. June 29, 2004. Retrieved December 4, 2009. [dead link]
  8. ^ "Hollywood Reporter, 9/9/05". The Hollywood Reporter. September 9, 2005. Retrieved December 4, 2009. [dead link]
  9. ^ Graser, Marc (January 4, 2010). "Flixster buys Rotten Tomatoes". Variety. Retrieved January 4, 2010. 
  10. ^ News Corp. Unloads Rotten Tomatoes Onto Flixster | TechCrunch
  11. ^ Atchity, Matt. "Welcome to the Rotten Tomatoes TV Zone". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 17, 2013. 
  12. ^ "". Alexa. Retrieved November 28, 2014. 
  13. ^ "rottentomatoes". Quantcast. Retrieved November 28, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Licensing". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 9, 2014. 
  15. ^ "2nd Golden Tomato Awards". Rotten January 1, 2013. Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  16. ^ a b c "14th Golden Tomato Awards". Rotten January 1, 2013. Retrieved April 21, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Welcome to the Rotten Tomatoes API". Flixster, Inc. Retrieved November 28, 2014. 
  18. ^ "The Rotten tomatoes show on current". November 23, 2009. Retrieved December 4, 2009. 
  19. ^ a b c White, Armond (April 3, 2010). "Do Movie Critics Matter?". First Things. Retrieved March 26, 2001. 

External links[edit]