Moviegoers, critics, and the average internet user have all used the aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes at one point or another. The website categorizes films and shows from “fresh” to “rotten,” with rotten being those with lower ratings. Now it looks like the site’s scores have been manipulated for more than five years.
As noted via Vulture, it looks like a PR firm has manipulated movie scores on Rotten Tomatoes by paying the critics directly. This has been happening for years.
The PR firm, named Bunker 15, is said to pay as much as $50.00 for a single Rotten Tomatoes review. The payments, which aren’t typically disclosed, are usually given to obscure critics who happen to be part of a pool tracked by Rotten Tomatoes. Though it’s worth noting that the aggregation site’s rules prohibit “Reviewing based on a financial incentive.”
Director Paul Schrader, also a critic, spoke out against Rotten Tomatoes which he says is part of a “broken” system.
“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.”
The site responded by delisting a variety of Bunker 15 films from their website. Furthermore, they issued a warning to any critics that reviewed them. The warning emphasizes that they do not tolerate manipulation on their platform.
“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.”
It’s possible that there are other similar cases happening on the website. And while RT can try to remove these websites – it looks like moviegoers, critics, and even studios feel that audiences just rely too heavily on the platform. And, for that reason alone, it makes sense why manipulation is bound to happen.
Stay tuned to ScreenGeek for any additional updates on this situation with Rotten Tomatoes as we have them.