Showing all posts tagged: film production

Rotten Tomatoes film scores may not be accurate or reliable

8 September 2023

When it comes to quickly gauging whether a movie is worth watching (since life is too short for bad films), I glance at its Metascore, a rating of a film which is calculated by Metacritic. This score is based on, as their FAQ page explains, a weighted average of reviews from top critics and publications.

Take note of that definition, its significance will become apparent shortly. In terms of Metascores though, I find ratings of sixty-five or more usually means a feature is worth watching, and in most cases — though there are exceptions — the higher the score, the better film will be. Particularly films with scores going up into the eighties and nineties. And no doubt, it is every filmmaker’s dream to attain the perfect score of one hundred.

The other major player in the film rating business is Rotten Tomatoes. Despite probably being a more recognised brand than Metacritic, I’ve never really bothered much with the Rotten Tomatoes scores.

This stems partly from my initial misunderstanding of how Rotten Tomatoes worked, and the way I used to (mis)read a Rotten Tomatoes score, combined with the site’s name. To my then warped way of thinking, a score of, say, one hundred, suggested to me, until I eventually saw the error of my ways, that the title was one hundred percent rotten.

Yeah, right, whatever. But there’s always been something about the Rotten Tomatoes metric that has never quite felt right to me. For instance, only moments, it seemed, after being released in March 2022, Tom Gormican’s 2022 feature The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, had attained a Rotten Tomatoes score of one hundred. I remember thinking to myself, how could that be? Surely a film needed to be widely acclaimed, by numerous critics, and audiences — something that would take time — to earn such an accolade.

That early score of one hundred was likely an incongruity, based on a low number of positive reviews. Today the title has a slightly more modest Rotten Tomatoes score of eighty seven, while Metacritic rates it a sixty eight. I haven’t yet seen The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent but a score of sixty eight sounds to me like it’s closer to the mark.

But the one hundred score garnered, albeit temporarily, by The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent says a lot about the weaknesses of the Rotten Tomatoes scoring system, and in particular, how the ratings can be exploited, as Lane Brown and Luke Winkie, writing for Vulture, point out:

But despite Rotten Tomatoes’ reputed importance, it’s worth a reminder: Its math stinks. Scores are calculated by classifying each review as either positive or negative and then dividing the number of positives by the total. That’s the whole formula. Every review carries the same weight whether it runs in a major newspaper or a Substack with a dozen subscribers.

In the course of their investigation into Rotten Tomatoes, Brown and Winkie discovered evidence that some publicity companies were paying little known film critics, who were often bloggers, to write, for an incentive, a positive review of a film that had not been faring well at the hands of other critics. To reverse a poor Rotten Tomatoes score, it is, or was, merely a matter of publishing a sufficient number of positive reviews — regardless of the integrity of the publication — to offset the negative write-ups.

Trying to manipulate a Metascore in the same way, would be somewhat more difficult — though doubtless not wholly impossible — given Metacritic draws only on the reviews of established film critics and publications. This is an unfortunate outcome for film-goers, who felt they could rely on the accuracy of a film’s Rotten Tomatoes score, when deciding what to pay to see.

And to be clear, I have no problem with little known bloggers writing about film. I do so myself. But I think an assessment model more akin to Metacritic — where only the reviews of writers and publications with a certain reputation are considered — needs to be adopted by Rotten Tomatoes.


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Barbie by Greta Gerwig earns one billion dollars at box office

10 August 2023

With Barbie, American filmmaker Greta Gerwig has become the first woman director to make a billion dollar earning movie. In addition, Barbie is, so far, just one of nine films to reach the milestone featuring a woman as the main protagonist:

Nine, that is, if you count female fish. Finding Dory (2016) swims in the billion dollar club, along with the animated princesses of Frozen (2013), Frozen II (2019) and Beauty and the Beast (2017). Two mega-franchises managed to spit out a billion-dollar film with women at the story’s heart: Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) and Captain Marvel (2019). Then, two other billion dollar one-offs: Titanic (1997) and a live-action Alice in Wonderland (2010).


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A sequel to The Way on the way says filmmaker Emilio Estevez

20 July 2023

I mention Emilio Estevez’s 2010 movie The Way one day, and the next I learn the American director is working on a sequel to the film, which was set on the Camino de Santiago, in Spain.

I also discovered The Way was re-released in American cinemas last May. Estevez describes the film as being more of its time today, than when it was made thirteen years ago, given people’s desire to embrace travel again after the Covid lockdowns. There’s clearly something in that sentiment, as I know of several people who have spent time walking the Camino this year.

Martin Sheen, Estevez’s father, and star of The Way, has indicated interest in being involved in the sequel, but aside from that little else is known about the proposed new film, with Estevez still to work out the finer details of the story:

We’ve been talking about doing a follow up, a sequel of sorts. Martin says he’s up for it and I’ve cracked the code for what it would be. I will go to Spain to do promotion for this, but also testing the waters for what a sequel might look like.

As of time of writing, there’s no mention of the sequel on Estevez’s IMDb page, meaning the project isn’t even in pre-production yet, so fans of The Way will be waiting sometime for it to arrive.


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The fiery brilliance of Oppenheimer was achieved with no CGI

11 July 2023

Oppenheimer, American filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s bio-pic about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the American scientist often referred to as the “father of the atomic bomb”, opens in Australian cinemas on Thursday 20 July 2023.

This is a film that stands to be remarkable for many reasons, but few people would have ventured to say that would be on account of computer-generated imagery (CGI), or, as the case may be, lack thereof. But according to Ryan O’Rourke, writing for Collider, Nolan has said Oppenheimer contains no CGI whatsoever.

Take a look at all fiery explosions we see in the trailer. Is the absence of CGI incredible, or what?


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An Oscar Award for film stunts may be on the way

25 June 2023

American filmmaker Chad Stahelski, possibly best known for directing the John Wick films, starring Keanu Reeves, believes an Oscar Award for movie stunts is forthcoming.

While promoting the latest instalment of the franchise, John Wick: Chapter 4, earlier this year, Stahelski, a stunt actor himself, said he spent time talking to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who present the Oscars annually, and described the process as “incredibly positive”:

In a recent interview with to mark the Blu-ray release of “John Wick: Chapter 4,” Stahelski announced that conversations about a stunt Oscar have finally taken place “in the last couple of months” between the Academy and a contingent of stunt coordinators.

“We’ve been meeting with members of the Academy and actually having these conversations, and, to be honest, it’s been nothing but incredibly positive, incredibly instructional,” Stahelski said. “I think, for the first time, we’ve made real movement forward to making this happen.”

Earlier this year, entertainment and culture magazine Vulture, frustrated by the Academy’s apparent lack of interest in the matter, established their own awards for film stunts. Winners, who were announced in March 2023, included Top Gun: Maverick (surprise, surprise), The Batman, and Nope.


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Behind the scenes images from the making of Asteroid City by Wes Anderson

14 June 2023

Design magazine Wallpaper* has published a selection of photos taken during the production of the new Wes Anderson film, Asteroid City. Anderson worked with his long-time collaborator, production designer Adam Stockhausen, to create the trademark “Andersonesque” sets of Asteroid City:

Stockhausen achieved the hyperrealistic quality of Asteroid City through the use of forced perspective: the town becomes desert and bleeds into the horizon, all on a set the size of a football field and its boundaries seemingly imperceptible.


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Vulture magazine does their own stunts, stunt awards that is

11 February 2023

New York based pop-culture publication Vulture has established their own film award — a “mini-academy” — to recognise the work of stunt professionals:

Since the AMPAS won’t properly fete achievements in stunts, we’re going to do it. We’ve spent the past few months assembling our own mini-academy of stunt professionals: a select group of stunt people, writers, filmmakers, and other industry professionals (including cinematographers and visual-effects artists) who helped us establish our own set of relevant and distinct stunt awards in a variety of categories, honoring work in feature-length films released between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022.

Good work. Action movies, plus a lot more, wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for stunt actors. Nominations are spread across ten categories, which includes a lifetime achievement award. Winners of the inaugural stunt awards will be announced on Monday 6 March 2023.


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