Stat-tastic Entry 1: Rotten Tomatoes

I’m going to kick things off for this series with one of the most widely recognized symbols of critical consensus for a movie:  Its score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Never before have so many people been so interested in the status of produce

Never before have so many people been so interested in the status of produce

For those few of you who aren’t familiar with the site, here are the basics.  Rotten Tomatoes is a website and database which scores movies by percentages of critics who scored a movie positively or negatively.  Any movie that receives a combined score of over 60% overall Fresh, while anything below 60% overall is considered Rotten.  Reviewers come from major news outlets, magazines, major websites and even a wide range of successful bloggers (one of my dreams is to one day become on of these reviewers, but as you can see the criteria for inclusion makes that a bit of a pipe dream for now).  Generally speaking, Rotten Tomatoes gives a good sense of what the majority of critics think of a film, and I’ve found that my positive/negative opinions of films fall in line with a movie’s Fresh/Rotten Status about 90% of the time.  That being said, here are a few issues with the site’s scoring system.


pitch perfect fight club

Bet you never thought you’d see these posters together

The percentage given is only an indicator of how many people liked a movie or disliked a movie, but not the degree of their like or dislike.  For example, both Fight Club and Pitch Perfect currently have the same scores on Rotten Tomatoes, but there are very few people out there who would argue that the latter is on the same quality level as the former.

In addition to that, a film’s critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes is only representative of a bank of about 200-300 critics that are eligible by the site’s requirements.  Because of that, films with more popular appeal usually wind up scoring higher than films with more critical appeal, meaning that your average Joe is much more likely to like a lower scored film like Ted than a higher scored film like The Sessions.

Now that that’s out of the way, I give to you 2012 in terms of Tomatometer.

– The overall non-weighted average Tomatometer for 2012 sits at 53 %.  Breaking this down, 58 films received a Fresh score, while the remaining 79 films received Rotten Scores.

– Ten films scored a 90% or above.  Genre-wise, these films were made up of six Dramas, two Science Fiction, one Action and one Horror.  Their combined domestic grosses were $1.574 billion, or 15.35% of the year’s total box office.

– Seven films scored below a 10%.  Genre-wise, these films were made up of three Horrors three Comedies, and one Action.  Their combined domestic grosses were were $137.16 million, or 1.34% of the year’s total box office.

Here are the 10 highest scoring films of the year with their percentage scores. In bold are films I included in my Top 10 of 2012.

  1. Argo – 96%
  2. Moonrise Kingdom – 94%
  3. The Sessions – 94%
  4. Looper – 93%
  5. Zero Dark Thirty – 93%
  6. The Avengers – 92%
  7. Cabin in the Woods – 92%
  8. Silver Linings Playbook – 92%
  9. Skyfall – 92%
  10. Lincoln – 90%

Here are the bottom 10 lowest scoring films of the year with their percentage scores.

  1. A Thousand Words – 0%
  2. One For The Money – 2%
  3. The Apparition – 4%
  4. Playing For Keeps – 4%
  5. The Cold Light of Day – 5%
  6. Silent Hill: Revelation – 6%
  7. The Devil Inside – 7%
  8. House at the End of the Street – 11%
  9. Red Dawn – 11%
  10. Alex Cross – 12%

Here are the average Rotten Tomato scores for each major genre.

  1. Documentary – 75.5%
  2. Drama – 65.2%
  3. Family (Includes most Animation) – 61.3%
  4. Sci-Fi – 58.8%
  5. Action – 52.7%
  6. Musical/Performance – 51.5%
  7. Comedy – 41.9%
  8. Horror – 31.7%*

Takeaways here?  Horror movie and Comedies have the highest ratio of Profitability to Critical Appeal of any other genre.

*Only 3 Horror Movies achieved a Fresh Score in 2012;  Cabin in the Woods, The Woman in Black, and Sinister.

Finally, here are the average Rotten Tomato scores of 2012 by Production Studio.  

  1. Fox Searchlight – 81%
  2. The Weinstein Company – 80.5%
  3. Focus Features – 78.7%
  4. Buena Vista (Disney) – 72.7%
  5. Sony Picture Classics – 69.0%
  6. Columbia/Tri Star – 63.3%
  7. CBS Films: 59.0%
  8. Universal – 56.9%
  9. Open Road Films: 51.8%
  10. Lionsgate – 49.1%
  11. Paramount – 48.0%
  12. Warner Bros. – 47.5%
  13. 20th Century Fox – 43.4%
  14. Summit – 42.0%
  15. Relativity – 37.8%
  16. LD Entertainment – 37.0%
  17. Screen Gems – 34.8%
  18. Romar 41 – 29.0%
  19. FilmDistrict – 17.7%
  20. Dimension Films – 13.0%

Main Takeaways here:

When it comes to Tomato Scores, the smaller the better; With the exception of Disney, the Top 5 studios by average score are all studios focused on small budget films.

It remains amazing to me that despite the critical and financial failings of nearly all of its movies, Relativity remains to exist as a studio.  Keep in mind these are the people that gave us Movie 43

Well, there you have it;  2012 in Rotten Tomatoes.  Did anything surprise you here?  Do you disagree with any of the positive/negative opinions for the Top/Bottom 10?  Sound off in the comments!

About r361n4

I'm a student at the University of Washington Majoring Business. I've always loved movies and my goal is to work on the financial side of the film industry. Until then though, I figure I'll spare my friends from my opinions and shout them from a digital mountaintop for anyone who's interested. After all, if a tree falls in a forest and nobody blogs about it, does it really happen?
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9 Responses to Stat-tastic Entry 1: Rotten Tomatoes

  1. johnlink00 says:

    Love this. I would actually say that horror and comedy make more bad movies than any other genre. People are willing to give a chance to a bad one (especially horror) in the hopes of finding the diamonds in the rough. At least, that is my experience as a lowly theater manager, haha. We always put horror or comedy in our big theatre web if everyone knows they will suck. They can always be counted on for a decent opening weekend.

  2. ckckred says:

    I like Rotten Tomatoes but I prefer Metacritic because Metacritic averages the critics’ ratings of the films.

  3. filmhipster says:

    Great post, interesting when all the numbers are crunched like that.

  4. Very, very interesting and informative post, man. Keep ’em coming!

  5. A Thousand Words – 0% AHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA good 😀

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