Rotten Tomatoes made waves recently when they announced they were going to delay the reveal of the Justice League Tomatometer score until Thursday, November 16 (more than two days after the review embargo lifts), and it has more to do with the site’s new approach than anything else. It goes without saying the critical consensus for Zack Snyder’s DC heroes team-up is arguably the most anticipated of 2017, considering that a majority of the DC Extended Universe installments have proven to be divisive and Justice League went through a troubled production process that saw Joss Whedon oversee the reshoots after Snyder stepped down due to a personal tragedy. There’s a lot riding on this film’s success, so the question of whether it’s good or not is one many want answered.
Though the metric is inherently flawed, Rotten Tomatoes has become a go-to source for casual viewers to evaluate a movie’s quality. Because film is incredibly subjective, opinions on a work tend to be more nuanced than a pass/fail system, but there’s no denying the Tomatometer’s influence has grown lately. Studies this year even showed scores were influencing people’s moviegoing habits, so it’s clear the site has some power. With the Justice League review embargo lifting on Tuesday, November 14, many presumed that’s when the first Tomatoemeter percentage rating would come out, but instead, Rotten Tomatoes has turned it into a spectacle. Why?
Rotten Tomatoes’ Facebook Show
Let’s be clear about one thing at the top: this is not a hit job on the DCEU. Though Rotten Tomatoes isn’t averse to fanning the flames of the great fan/critic divide when it comes to the franchise’s tumultuous history with reviews, this is more about Rotten Tomatoes than it is DC. At the beginning of this month, the site launched a new Facebook show called See It/Skip It, hosted by Jacqueline Coley and Segun Oduolowu. In addition to the pair sharing their thoughts on the latest trending topics in entertainment, they also reveal a new Tomatometer score for an upcoming movie of TV show. For instance, that debut episode unveiled the consensus for A Bad Moms Christmas and Star Trek‘s original series.
Related: Rotten Tomatoes Explained
This is, frankly, a ploy on the part of Rotten Tomatoes to generate viewership for their fledgling program. They are no doubt keenly aware the interest audiences have in Tomatometer, and they’re simply making a show out of it, hyping up the latest score so people tune in. The longterm ramifications of this is a discussion for another day, but again, we cannot stress enough that Rotten Tomatoes is not singling out Justice League and the DCEU. As they’ve shown, they’re willing to do this for a mid-budget comedy sequel, so the weekly See It/Skip It reveal is in the early stages of becoming part of their normal process. One can only dream about what Rotten Tomatoes will do when the first Star Wars: The Last Jedi reviews start coming in.
Still, it’s no mere coincidence Justice League is the centerpiece of one of the first See It/Skip It episodes. Early reactions to the movie have already appeared on social media, and while they’re generally positive, the response is more mixed than enthusiastic. Whether Justice League ultimately is fresh or rotten, its score is going to be the point of contention for comic book movie fans, who desperately want to know if the first DC ensemble piece lives up to the hype. Remember, in the wake of Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad being widely panned, fans actually set up petitions to shut Rotten Tomatoes down due to a perceived bias against the DCEU, so this is something people deeply care about. Especially with Wonder Woman becoming the highest-rated superhero movie of all-time, everyone wants to know how Justice League stacks up.
DC fans might have felt slighted by the review aggregate in years past, but this situation is more about Rotten Tomatoes’ changing strategy as they look to evolve as a platform than anything else. Justice League just had the fate of being the first massive blockbuster in this new era, so it’s being used as a launching pad to give viewers an idea of how the site’s new system will work. This method has been subject to much criticism since it was announced, as many feel it overstates the importance (and point) of the Tomatometer, yet the site is forging ahead undeterred. For better or worse, this is the new norm for Rotten Tomatoes, and not just them making a dog and pony show out of DC.