Time to understand where movie ratings come from

By Natasha Muhametzyanova, Contributing Writer

Ever wondered what makes some movies draw crowds to theaters while others become absolute flops? There might be a dozen of reasonable factors: cast, script, quality of production. Unfortunately, those things are ignored in favor of simplified movie rating systems such as Rotten Tomatoes and Internet Movie Database (IMDb).

It might seem rather harmless, and even logical to check out ratings of the movies you want to see. After all, nobody wants to waste their ten dollars and leave a theater disappointed. But before relying on movie ratings, let’s first figure out how they work.

According to the Rotten Tomatoes official website, the Tomatometer (a system that turns movie reviews into percentage-based rating) is based on the reviews coming from top 100 daily and weekly US newspapers and top ten entertainment publications.

Such standards reduce chances for many alternative and indie publications’ writers to share their opinions with a large audience while a lot of alike magazines such as People and Entertainment Weekly take over public opinion.

Looking through the ratings it also becomes clear that some movies fit better in the system than others. With unbelievable consistency, Tomatometer grants good ratings to the movies general public and social media find appealing such as Harry Potter (78-96%) and Captain America(80-90%) while giving low scores to the movies which displeased the audience even before they hit theaters. Remember unfortunate The Amazing Spider-Man II (53%) and Terminator Genisys (26%)?   

You may agree that those movies deserved the ratings they got, yet more often than not official movie ratings drastically differ from the audience score – a rating any mortal who watched a film can contribute to.

It happened with Batman v Superman which got 27% on Tomatometer against 66% audience score and so did newly released heist thriller Now You See Me 2 with 34 to 66%. Such discrepancy in scores leads to a question, whose opinions do movie ratings actually represent?

It looks like without enough hype in the media and absolute admiration from critics it is almost impossible to receive a good rating. Such system pushes down most of the non-blockbuster movies. So the majority of low budget films, Christmas movies and romantic comedies are doomed from the start.

Every story has its own fan somewhere. Unfortunately, you may never find your favorite movie just because critics bashed it, and your friends followed. Do not miss out something you may like just because others say you shouldn’t. Your brain is not rotten, so why listen to Rotten Tomatoes?