At a time when film criticism is criticized for being dominated by white men, Rotten Tomatoes seeks to highlight more diverse voices.
The review aggregator, known for its "fresh" or "corrupt" Tomatometer ranking system, said the new criteria were based on new media platforms such as podcasts and Streaming – Shows, instead of relying only on written advice. In addition, the site will contain authors whose work can appear on personal blogs or other platforms instead of focusing only on the pieces they publish for specific print shops. As part of the change, over 200 new Tomatometer-approved critics have been added to Rotten Tomatoes and the service is expected to further expand its ranks.
The new criteria come after months of contact with critics to get their suggestions for ways to expand the pool of reviewers to include more women and people from under-represented communities.
"The feedback we received is that the movie review has changed," said Jenny Jediny, manager of Rotten Tomatoes critics. Layoffs on major print publications and magazines have left their mark, she said. "More people do freelance work, but our site did not reflect that, and we just focused on the reviews they wrote for pre-approved publications."
Inclusion has become a hot topic when it comes to making films, with different groups having more women and minorities in front of and behind the camera. As the topic of diversity in Hollywood becomes more and more urgent, the composition of the people who rate the best of cinema has remained stubbornly monochrome.
White critics wrote 82% of the reviews of the top 100 films last year, according to a recent USC study, while critics from under-represented racial and ethnic backgrounds made only 18% of reviews. Just over 20% of the 19,559 reviews evaluated by the authors of the study were written by women.
Some prominent figures in the entertainment industry are demanding a change. For example, actress Brie Larson made headlines suggesting that the lack of diversity influences reviews for films featuring protagonists of various races or backgrounds.
"I do not need a 40-year-old white guy to tell me what did not work for him on" A Wrinkle in Time, "Larson said at the Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards last June. "It was not done for him."
This in turn affects the cash receipts. Film goers often call on Rotten Tomatoes to make their ticket purchase decision. A weaker Tomatometer can have a noticeable financial impact.
Film festivals such as Sundance and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) are trying to change things by offering at least 20 percent of their top-level press credentials. represented critics. However, it is a costly business to come to these festivals and secure accommodations, especially for journalists working as freelancers. For this purpose, Rotten Tomatoes has set up a $ 100,000 grant program. Over the next year, the company will provide grants to nonprofit organizations to help critics with expenses associated with participating in the festival. The first $ 25,000 grant goes to the "American Friends of TIFF" fund so they can deduct their travel expenses to Toronto.
Paul Yanover, president of Fandango, the parent company of Rotten Tomatoes, said the site was not tinkering. Currently, Rotten Tomatoes separates "Top Critic," a term used by reviewers from well-known outlets, from the rest of the critical pack. That could change, he suggested. For Yanover, Rotten Tomatoes benefits from more votes.
"It creates a better product," he said. "More reviews mean we include more perspectives and more platforms … By opening wider the opening, we're more reflective of where film criticism is going."