Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes

Infobox Website

caption = ROTTEN TOMATOES: Movies and Games, Reviews and Previews
url =
commercial = Yes
type = Online movie reviews
registration = Optional
owner = Rupert Murdoch's News Corp
author = Senh Duong
launch date = 1998

Rotten Tomatoes is a website devoted to reviews, information, and news of movies. The name derives from the historical cliché of throwing tomatoes and other produce at stage performers if a performance was particularly bad.


Rotten Tomatoes was launched on August 19, 1998 as a spare time project by Senh Duong [ [ San Francisco Chronicle, 2000] ] . 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". [ [ Senh Duong interview, 1999] ] 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 from Yahoo!, Netscape, and USA Today within its first week of launch; it attracted "600 - 1000 daily unique visitors" as a result.

Duong teamed up with Patrick Lee and Stephen Wang, his former partners from the Berkeley, California-based web design firm Design Reactor to pursue Rotten Tomatoes as a full-time start-up company, officially launching on April 1, 1999 [ [ Rotten Tomatoes Oral History] ] .

In June 2004, IGN Entertainment acquired for an undisclosed sum [ [ Hollywood Reporter, 6/29/04] ] . In September 2005, IGN was bought out by News Corp's Fox Interactive Media [ [ Hollywood Reporter, 9/9/05] ] .

The site is one of the most heavily trafficked on the Internet, with an Alexa Internet ranking of 570 (July 2008).

The current Editor in Chief is Matt Atchity and the Vice President and General Manager is Shannon Ludovissy


Rotten Tomatoes staff search the Internet for as many websites as possible that contain reviews of particular films; from the amateur to the professional. 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 splatted tomato).

The website keeps track of all of the reviews counted (which can approach 250 for major, recently released films) 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 Roger Ebert, Desson Thomson/Stephen Hunter ("Washington Post"), and Lisa Schwarzbaum ("Entertainment Weekly"), 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 opinion. The ratings favor recent releases and films with large numbers of reviews over older films, due to the scarcity of archived reviews for such older films. Rotten Tomatoes members are also able to comment on individual critics' opinions, as well as rate the films themselves.

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. Films that are considered "fresh," have many reviews to base the "freshness" on, and have an excellent average rating (at least 75%) receive the "Certified fresh" label as well as the red tomato. Films with just 55-60% can have the certificate if there are many reviews and an excellent average (indicating that even "rotten" reviews were fairly supportive). There are films with 100% which don't have the certificate due to a rating average that is "good" but not "excellent" or because there are not enough reviews to be sure of the freshness.

As of August 2008, the best reviewed film on the site is "Toy Story 2":

"With a 100% Fresh rating based on 121 reviews, the continuing adventure of Woody, Buzz, and their crew of new and old friends is not only the best reviewed movie of 1999, it's the best ever featured on RT." [ [ ROTTEN TOMATOES: Golden Tomatoes: The 10 Best Movies for each of the Last 10 Years ] ]

There are several other films that have received a 100% freshness rating with fewer reviews including Dr. Strangelove, The Godfather and Airplane!, and there are over 200 films that have so far received a 0% freshness rating. The site has recently included a list of the "100 Worst Reviewed Films of All time." The top movie on that list is "".

In additions to reviews, Rotten Tomatoes hosts message forums, where thousands of participants take part in the discussion of movies, video games, music and other topics.

Influence on Profits

According to a non-scientific study by Erik Lundegaard, films released in 2007 which are scored fresh make, on average, $1000 more per screen than films which are scored as rotten. [cite web
title=Why We Need Movie Reviewers: Despite popular belief, critically acclaimed movies actually sell better

Another study by USA Today in 2003 also produced similar results - "the better the reviews, the higher the box office." The newspaper found that, contrary to popular belief, film critics and moviegoers agree more often than not. [cite web
title=Movie critics, fans follow surprisingly similar script
publisher=USA Today


Localized versions of the site are available in the UK and Australia. Readers accessing Rotten Tomatoes in those regions are redirected to a version of the site that provides local release dates, cinema listings, box office results and promotes reviews from local critics. 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 editors based in London and Sydney.


External links

* [ Official website]
** [ List of approved RottenTomatoes Critics]
** [ RottenTomatoes forums]
** [ Rotten Tomatoes: The Best of the Best Pictures]
** [ Rotten Tomatoes: The Worst of the Worst Pictures]

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