Rotten Tomatoes Expanding Critics Outreach and Grant Program

Rotten Tomatoes, a resource for movie, TV and streaming recommendations, announced that it is furthering its commitment to increasing inclusion in entertainment criticism by expanding its Critics Outreach and Grant Program.

It has renewed its donation to the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) Media Inclusion Initiative, which provides financial support to accredited press from underrepresented groups. Since the launch of TIFF’s Media Inclusion Initiative in 2018, Rotten Tomatoes has contributed over $100,000 to the program.

“According to a recent survey we conducted with 350 Tomatometer-approved critics, 92% contend that the cost of travel and lodging still prohibits them from attending key festivals and conventions,” Jenny Jediny, Rotten Tomatoes director of critic engagement, said in a statement. “Supporting festival inclusion programs remains an important part of Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics Outreach and Grant Program and we’re thrilled to be expanding our mentorship initiatives and scholarships for aspiring critics from underrepresented groups.”

The survey participants said the top three challenges critics face today are finding new opportunities as a member of a marginalized community; turning movie and TV criticism into a full-time career; and sustaining a work-life balance.

The top three industry changes survey participants would like to see include better accessibility to screening invites; more diversity and inclusion among the critic community; and continued adoption of hybrid and virtual events and festivals.

Additionally, among the critics from underrepresented groups who were surveyed, 76% said that they are invited to screenings more often when a film or series has a specific relation to their group.

Rotten Tomatoes also announced today that it will renew its support of the 2022 Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s Ruth Batchelor Scholarship, which benefits aspiring film critics from underrepresented groups in the Los Angeles area. In Chicago, Rotten Tomatoes recently launched the “Emerging Critics Grant Program” with the Chicago Film Critics Association, designed to support diverse aspiring critics from the local area.

Rotten Tomatoes continues to add new Tomatometer-approved critics to its world-famous entertainment rating system. Each year, Rotten Tomatoes receives hundreds of applications for Tomatometer consideration, and evaluates potential candidates based on a set of criteria. The criteria were refreshed in 2018 to place a greater emphasis on each critic’s individual credentials rather than their outlet, allowing for a wider and more diverse pool of critics’ perspectives to be included in the Tomatometer.

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Among the more than 100 new critics that Rotten Tomatoes has added to its Tomatometer critics pool over the past year, 74% are from underrepresented groups, 48% are women, 38% are people of color, 76% are freelancers and 34% are from new media platforms, including YouTube, podcasts and broadcast.

Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics Outreach and Grant Program was established in 2018 with the mission to help increase inclusion in entertainment criticism and support the next generation of critics.​To date, Rotten Tomatoes has donated more than $350,000 to festival inclusion programs, college scholarships and more, helping more than 600 aspiring critics from underrepresented groups pursue their academic and professional goals.

Additionally, Rotten Tomatoes hosts educational and mentoring programs.  In 2021, it launched “RT Labs,” a free online educational resource platform designed to support aspiring critics through recorded expert panels, interviews, how-to guides and more.

As part of Rotten Tomatoes’ ongoing educational efforts, last month the brand hosted a panel discussion titled “Kicking Off Your Career in Film and Television Criticism” at the Asian American Journalists Association’s National Convention. The panel featured professional critics providing advice to early-career journalists and students seeking opportunities in film and television criticism.

Rotten Tomatoes Revises Audience Movie Ratings

Movie rating service Rotten Tomatoes is changing its Audience Rating System to feature verified ratings and reviews.

For eligible movies moving forward, Audience Scores will be made up of ratings from fans who are confirmed to have purchased tickets to those movies. Those fans’ written reviews will also display a “verified” badge.

“We know from our research that fans consult Rotten Tomatoes’ Audience Score along with the Tomatometer, when making decisions on what to watch,” Paul Yanover, Fandango president, said in a statement. “Having an Audience Score and reviews from fans who are confirmed ticket purchasers, will add even more usefulness to our product and increase consumer confidence.”

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Rotten Tomatoes users can opt-in to get their rating and review “verified” if they purchased their movie ticket on Fandango. Exhibitors AMC Theatres, Regal and Cinemark Theatres plan to participate as ticket purchase authenticators later this year. Every visitor to the Rotten Tomatoes site will still be invited to rate and review movies regardless of whether or not they are confirmed ticket purchasers. Reviews (both verified and unverified) will still be listed, with those that are verified marked with a “verified” badge, so that readers will know that the reviewer purchased a ticket to that movie.

On Fandango’s site and mobile apps, Rotten Tomatoes will begin powering Fandango’s fan rating system, replacing its previous five-star fan rating, according to the service. Once their ticket purchases are confirmed through their Fandango user account, Fandango ticket buyers’ ratings and reviews will now count towards the Verified Audience Score displayed on Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes, as well as on other platforms that syndicate Rotten Tomatoes scores.

The service has previously come under fire as users have been able to manipulate the Audience Score for a particular movie through coordinated online campaigns by those who hadn’t even seen the film. In particular, a recent campaign against Captain Marvel, which has a strong female character, drew criticism of the service.

The launch of Verified Ratings and Reviews is part of the Rotten Tomatoes’ overall plan to modernize its Audience Rating System over the next year, “making it even more helpful to fans as they make their entertainment viewing decisions,” according to a press release.

Rotten Tomatoes introduced an earlier product enhancement in February, and reports each change in a Product Update Blog.

In addition to enhancing its Audience Rating System, Rotten Tomatoes has been working over the past 18 months to increase the diversity of the critical voices that make up its Tomatometer, which aggregates the collective opinions of thousands of Tomatometer-approved critics for movies and TV shows, according to the release. Last August, Rotten Tomatoes made an enhancement to its critics community, by debuting revamped Tomatometer critics criteria. With an increased focus on the critic’s individual qualifications versus the publications that they write for, Rotten Tomatoes’ goal is to enable a wider and more diverse pool of critics’ perspectives to be included in the Tomatometer. Since launch, Rotten Tomatoes has added more than 500 new Tomatometer-approved critics and publications, with plans to add even more critics in the future, according to the release.

Additionally, Rotten Tomatoes announced the establishment of a $100,000 grant program to create more opportunities for critics serving underrepresented groups to cover major film festivals and gain access to press screenings. To date, Rotten Tomatoes has donated $25,000 respectively to the press inclusion initiatives at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, 2019 Sundance Film Festival and 2019 SXSW Film Festival and Conference, according to the release.

FandangoNow Offers Sale on Select Oscar Nominees Before Awards

Ahead of the 91st Academy Awards Feb. 24, FandangoNow, Fandango’s VOD service, is offering Best Picture nominees Green Book and The Favourite, Best Documentary nominee Free Solo, and Best Costumes and Best Makeup nominee Mary Queen of Scots at 30 percent off the listed price.

The flash sale starts Feb. 20 and ends Feb. 21. Consumers can access the discount using the promo code “FNOWOscar” at checkout.

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Fandango is also offering a downloadable 2019 Oscars ballot with Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer scores included.

FandangoNow Unveils 25 ‘Freshest’ Zombie Movies List to Celebrate ‘Living Dead’ Anniversary

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of zombie classic Night of the Living Dead, Fandango’s on-demand video service FandangoNow Oct. 1 launched a list of the 25 “freshest” zombie movies with the George Romero film taking the top spot.

The list was curated by movie review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes based on the movies’Tomatometer scores. (A movie gets a “Fresh” designation when at least 60% of its critic reviews are positive.)

On Oct. 1 only, fans can rent any (or all) of the zombie movies on the list at a discounted rate of $1 off the regular price when using the promo code LIVINGDEAD50 at checkout.

“Zombies owe their popularity today to a little low-budget film from Pittsburgh released 50 years ago today, and Night of the Living Dead has lost none of its power to shock, stun and terrify,” said Fandango managing editor Erik Davis. “With its stark, in-your-face black-and-white imagery of the dead coming back to flesh-eating life, director George Romero’s film made it clear to 1968 audiences that visceral horror no longer took the shape of Gothic frights like werewolves and vampires. It now looks just like your friends and neighbors, and there is no escape. To celebrate the ‘Dead’s 50th-anniversary FandangoNOW is hosting the top 25 zombie movies that you can view at home today, starting of course with the film that started it all.”

The list with Tomatometer scores is:

Night of Living Dead (1968) 97%
Train To Busan 96%
Dawn of the Dead (1978) 93%
Shaun of the Dead 92%
I Walked with a Zombie 92%
The Cabin in the Woods 91%
Return of the Living Dead 91%
Zombieland 90%
ParaNorman 89%
White Zombie 89%
[Rec] 88%
28 Days Later 87%
Dead Alive 86%
Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead 83%
The Plague of the Zombies 80%
Warm Bodies 80%
Dawn of the Dead (2004) 75%
Planet Terror 74%
Land of The Dead 73%
The Crazies 71%
28 Weeks Later 71%
Dead Snow 68%
Night of the Living Dead (1990) 68%
World War Z 66%
The Serpent and the Rainbow 61%