Paul Schrader is calling out something rotten about review-aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes.

In a Vulture exposé over allegations that favorable reviews on RT can be purchased, Schrader weighed in on the current state of cinema when reviews are aggregated into a numeric score.

“The studios didn’t invent Rotten Tomatoes, and most of them don’t like it,” Schrader said. “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.”

Schrader continued, “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. To me, that’s a good review, but it would count as negative on Rotten Tomatoes.”

The Vulture article investigated the actions of movie publicity company Bunker 15, which allegedly was offering to pay critics for favorable reviews to boost ratings on the site for their client’s films. In a statement, Rotten Tomatoes wrote, “We take the integrity of our scores seriously and do not tolerate any attempts to manipulate them. We have a dedicated team who monitors our platforms regularly and thoroughly investigates and resolves any suspicious activity.”

“Master Gardener” director Schrader instead pointed to the fact that, regardless of publicity interference, RT users favor mass appeal titles instead of indies, despite even a film being “certified fresh.”

“If there was a new film by, I don’t know, Klaus Von Boringstein, and he had a three-hour drama about a housewife in the Middle Ages, do you think people would go see it because it had a 90 percent on Rotten Tomatoes? No,” Schrader said. “But if it were a movie about a serial killer in the wilds of Alaska and it had a 50 percent? They might check that out.”

Schrader previously called out the 2022 Sight and Sound poll awarding “Jeanne Dielman” the title of greatest film of all-time as a corrupted system.

“The sudden appearance of ‘Jeanne Dielman’ in the number one slot undermines the S&S poll’s credibility,” Schrader said in December 2022. “It feels off, as if someone had put their thumb on the scale. Which I suspect they did.”

He continued, “[Chantal] Akerman’s film is a favorite of mine, a great film, a landmark film but it’s unexpected number one rating does it no favors. ‘Jeanne Dielman’ will from this time forward be remembered not only as an important film in cinema history but also as a landmark of distorted woke reappraisal.”

Leave a comment