What is Rotten Tomatoes?

Understand what it means to be "Certified Fresh"

Screenshot from rottentomatoes.com

Rotten Tomatoes

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Rotten Tomatoes is one of the oldest TV show and movie review aggregation websites on the web. The service collates reviews from professional critics and uses that information to generate an overall percentage score via its Tomatometer. Entertainment with a ranking of at least 60 percent receives a Fresh score, while certain content consistently ranking at 75 percent or above may be eligible for a coveted Certified Fresh rating.

How Does Rotten Tomatoes Work?

Rotten Tomatoes has many sections, but its most recognizable feature is its Tomatometer movie and TV show ranking system.

Reviews from professional critics accompany the release of most new movies and TV shows. But for entertainment fans who find reviews useful, reading even a few write-ups can prove time-consuming, and reviewers opinions will often vary. 

Rotten Tomatoes tries to solve this problem by aggregating an array of reviews and providing film and TV watchers with a simple rating system known as the Tomatometer. Each film and TV show listed on Rotten Tomatoes gets a Tomatometer score and a Fresh or Rotten ranking.

How Rotten Tomatoes Uses Reviews to Rate Films and TV Shows

A team of Rotten Tomatoes curators collectively read thousands of movie and TV critiques each week, deciding if the subject of each piece is Fresh (good) or Rotten (bad). Pre-approved critics can submit their reviews for consideration, but the Rotten Tomatoes team also looks at unsolicited write-ups.

A film's Tomatometer score comes from the overall percentage of reviews curators deem positive. The resulting figure then informs whether a movie or show receives a Rotten, Fresh, or Certified Fresh status.

Entertainment scoring less than 60 percent overall is ranked Rotten; 60 percent or higher earns a Fresh rating. Certified Fresh is reserved for content that has been positively reviewed by at least five top critics, consistently achieves a Fresh score of at least 75 percent, and has a minimum number of reviews relative to the scope of its release.

For example, if curators read 90 reviews for the latest blockbuster, and they deem 74 of those write-ups are primarily good, the movie receives a Tomatometer rating of 82 percent. This result means the film is ranked Fresh. If it meets Rotten Tomatoes' full criteria, it will rank as Certified Fresh.

Tomatometer scores are accompanied by pull quotes from the reviews that fed into the score, along with their individual Fresh or Rotten rating. 

How Rotten Tomatoes Uses Audience Scores to Rate Films and TV Shows

Rotten Tomatoes' Audience Score lets users rate the films and shows they've seen. Similar to the Tomatometer, ratings are collected together to provide an overall percentage score, which then translates to a Fresh status (represented by a full popcorn bucket) or a Rotten status (a tipped over popcorn bucket).

How Rotten Tomatoes Uses Reviews to Generate an Audience Score

As with the Tomatometer system, Rotten Tomatoes generates an Audience Score by looking at the percentage of positive user-generated reviews a title gets. For TV shows, this score comes from the overall number of responses. For movies, Rotten Tomatoes only uses verified theater ticket purchases to weigh the final score. It's worth noting that while non-verified film reviews don't contribute to the overall rating, they're still viewable via the Audience Score breakdown.

Films and shows that collectively scores less than 60 percent from users receive a Rotten rating, while titles with 60 percent and higher earn a Fresh status.

Additional Features of Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes has lots of other features, including details of new films and TV shows and the latest box office results. These listings are accompanied by their Tomatometer score, allowing users to get a quick overview of what reviewers think.

Beyond reviews and rankings, Rotten Tomatoes offers original movie- and TV-related content like news, interviews, and articles.

Rotten Tomatoes also has a section for finding nearby film theaters, movie listings, showtimes, and the option to book tickets (all powered by Fandango). Again, all movie listings show their Tomatometer score.

How to Access Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes is available via the web at rottentomatoes.com. Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t have standalone mobile apps, but its scores are included in Flixter’s apps for iOS and Android.