“The studios didn’t invent Rotten Tomatoes, and most of them don’t like it,” says director Paul Schrader. “But the system is broken. Audiences are dumber. Normal people don’t go through reviews like they used to. Rotten Tomatoes is something the studios can game. So they do.” — from Lane Brown‘s “The Decomposition of Rotten Tomatoes,” a 9.6. Vulture article.

Excerpt: “In a recent interview, Quentin Tarantino, whose next film is reportedly called The Movie Critic, admitted that he no longer reads critics’ work. ‘Today, I don’t know anyone,’ he said (in a translation of his remarks, first published in French). ‘I’m told, ‘Manohla Dargis, she’s excellent.’ But when I ask what are the three movies she loved and the three she hated in the last few years, no one can answer me. Because they don’t care!’

“This is probably because Rotten Tomatoes — with help from Yelp, Goodreads, and countless other review aggregators — has desensitized us to the opinions of individual critics.

“Once upon a time, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert turned the no-budget documentary Hoop Dreams into a phenomenon using only their thumbs. But critical power like that has been replaced by the collective voice of the masses. A third of U.S. adults say they check Rotten Tomatoes before going to the multiplex, and while movie ads used to tout the blurbage of Jeffrey Lyons and Peter Travers, now they’re more likely to boast that a film has been “Certified Fresh.”

“To filmmakers across the taste spectrum, Rotten Tomatoes is a scourge.

Martin Scorsese says it reduces the director ‘to a content manufacturer and the viewer to an unadventurous consumer.’ Brett Ratner has called it ‘the destruction of our business.”’But insiders acknowledge that it has become a crucial arbiter. Publicists say their jobs revolve around the site. ‘In the last ten years,’ says one, ‘it’s become much more important as so many of the most trusted critics have retired without replacements.’

“An indie-distribution executive says, ‘I put in our original business plan that we should not do films that score less than 80. Rotten Tomatoes is the only public stamp of approval that says, ‘This is of immense quality, and all critics agree.’”

“But despite Rotten Tomatoes’ reputed importance, it’s worth a reminder: Its math stinks. Scores are calculated by classifying each review as either positive or negative and then dividing the number of positives by the total. That’s the whole formula. Every review carries the same weight whether it runs in a major newspaper or a Substack with a dozen subscribers.

“If a review strad’les positive and negative, too bad. ‘I read some reviews of my own films where the writer might say that he doesn’t think that I pull something off, but, boy, is it interesting in the way that I don’t pull it off,’ says Schrader, a former critic. ‘To me, that’s a good review, but it would count as negative on Rotten Tomatoes.'”