Brett Ratner is the director of three “Rush Hour” movies, one of the worst “X-Men” entries, the comedic ensemble flop “Tower Heist” and blockbuster franchise flop “Hercules.” However, you might be surprised that as a producer, he’s wielded his wallet behind Alejandro G. Iñárritu‘s “The Revenant,” Warren Beatty‘s “Rules Don’t Apply,” that big Woody Allen documentary on PBS, that great John Cazale doc “I Knew It Was You,” and other projects that highlight his often-not-talked-about cinephile and business side. So it’s perhaps understandable why he has a bone to pick with Rotten Tomatoes.
Speaking at the Sun Valley Film Festival, the filmmaker made it clear he’s no fan of the review-aggregating site for becoming the de facto critical verdict on a movie, citing “Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice” (a film his company RatPac helped finance) as a movie that was unduly affected by the plethora of terrible reviews.
“The worst thing that we have in today’s movie culture is Rotten Tomatoes,” he said. “I think it’s the destruction of our business. I have such respect and admiration for film criticism. When I was growing up film criticism was a real art. And there was intellect that went into that. And you would read Pauline Kael’s reviews, or some others, and that doesn’t exist anymore. Now it’s about a number. A compounded number of how many positives vs. negatives. Now it’s about, ‘What’s your Rotten Tomatoes score?’ And that’s sad, because the Rotten Tomatoes score was so low on ‘Batman v Superman’ I think it put a cloud over a movie that was incredibly successful.
“People don’t realize what goes into making a movie like that,” Ratner continued. “It’s mind-blowing. It’s just insane, it’s hurting the business, it’s getting people to not see a movie. In Middle America it’s, ‘Oh, it’s a low Rotten Tomatoes score so I’m not going to go see it because it must suck.’ But that number is an aggregate and one that nobody can figure out exactly what it means, and it’s not always correct. I’ve seen some great movies with really abysmal Rotten Tomatoes scores. What’s sad is film criticism has disappeared. It’s really sad.”
In fairness to Ratner, he does have a point that movies being reduced to percentage scores isn’t good for anyone. But even Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, two of the most revered and popular critics in recent memory, weighed the fate of every movie they reviewed on their thumbs. So, the nostalgic glow for criticism of yore may need to be tempered.
Rotten Tomatoes shared a statement that their site makes “it easier than it has ever been for fans to access potentially hundreds of professional reviews for a given film or TV show in one place.” And while that may be true, let’s be real — most people are looking at the number, maybe skimming some review clips, making a decision to see a film or not, and getting on with their lives.
Thoughts? Let us know in the comments section. [EW]