I am Matt Atchity, and I've been the Editor-in-Chief at Rotten Tomatoes for the last five years.

As proof, this is me in our office (aka the Tomatoplex).

I'm also on Twitter @Matchity and you can see some of my media appearances on YouTube.

I didn't start Rotten Tomatoes, by the way, but I've been covering entertainment on the web since 1996.

We see posts about Rotten Tomatoes on Reddit from time to time, so we thought it would be fun to answer any questions from Redditors.

Edit: Thanks for all the great questions - logging off for a few hours, but I'll try and get back on later tonight for some more answers.

2nd Edit: Back on for a little bit, to get to some of the newer questions.

3rd Edit: Signing off for the night (wife's orders). Thanks for all the great questions!

Comments: 1915 • Responses: 54  • Date: 

knghtwhosaysni1244 karma

Any chance of getting rid of this popup? Or maybe just stop showing it after we have seen it 100 times?

matchity1176 karma

For what it's worth, I don't like that pop-up either.

I_have_a_Secret798 karma

If this AMA results in the removal of this popup then I will go to sleep tonight knowing we did something good for the world.

matchity986 karma

The product team is telling me this is going to be addressed. It probably won't go away completely, but it should show up less.

Richie1984770 karma

Given how influential your site is, do you ever get pressure from studios to try and fudge the system to move an expensive stinker from rotten to fresh? If so, how do you respond?

matchity1018 karma

We get a lot of calls from studio publicists if a movie is right on the dividing line. We know that film directors are watching the scores because one of two things will happen:

  1. We'll get a bunch of links to reviews from critics or sites that don't meet our qualifications
  2. We'll get asked to change a rotten review to a fresh one, because the review is neutral.

In the case of #1, we'll just say that the reviews don't qualify. In the case of #2, we'll ask the critic if we've scored it right. If they tell us to change it, we will, but we have to hear it from the critics.

tmbcake13245 karma

Going off the end of that, do you feel the critic's recommendation for each film is a good idea, rather than going strictly off the numbers? A 2.5/4 rating isn't necessarily "rotten" or "fresh", yet it goes either way. On top of that, I recently saw on early reviews of The Master, Richard Corliss' rating is a 7/10, and remains the only "rotten" rating (at this time). Do you fee one way is better than the other?

matchity538 karma

2.5/4 may mean fresh to some reviewers and rotten to others. Our hope is that people are actually clicking through to read reviews, rather than basing their entire decision about the score.

We've thought about the possibility of changing things up, but in all honesty, keeping the system mostly simple is probably going to be our best bet. It allows for a level of transparency that we like, where as averaging out scores adds in a lot more subjectivity and reinterpretation than I think we're comfortable with.

Goeatabagofdicks725 karma

How do you think some of the most terrible movies actually make it to the big screen? I would assume at some point SOMEONE read the scripts and thought, "Wow, that's awful."

Does Rotten Tomatoes feel like being a peer review source to prevent the waste of production costs?

Love the website, thanks for making sure I don't waste my time!

matchity1298 karma

Funny you should say that... we interviewed Jason Statham, and some thing came up about some movies of his that weren't well received, and he said that you don't think you're making a bad movie when you're in the middle of shooting.

Cut to three months later, I'm interviewing Rosario Dawson, and she's joking about some of her Tomatometer scores, and I tell her what Statham said about not thinking a movie is going to be bad, and she says "Oh no, I knew that Pluto Nash would be bad" But she said she couldn't turn down the opportunity to work with Eddie Murphy.

superunhappyfuntime449 karma


matchity437 karma

Hey, hit me on Twitter @matchity, and I can help you out.

xcampkillx475 karma

Why isn't Taken 100%?

matchity1679 karma

Because we didn't get a threatening call from Liam Neeson yet.

I_have_a_Secret360 karma

I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I do have money.

I also have a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If my movies is 100% by tomorrow, that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.

matchity1343 karma

mgalexis464 karma

What are your Five Favorite Films? I'm a big fan of Rotten Tomatoes. Thanks for doing this AMA!

matchity1128 karma

We put our own five faves on the back of our business cards

Tipoe524 karma

I think this should be compulsory on every business card.

tron423299 karma

matchity323 karma


giddyupbugger29 karma

Searched RT for The Imposters. Doesn't find it. ಠ_ಠ

KitsuneRommel139 karma


That's a nasty typo on his business card.

TheLobotomizer79 karma

Tsk-tsk Mr. Editor in Chief.

matchity41 karma

Yeah, I know. The new ones are on order.

reconditereference353 karma

What rating have you disagreed with the most? What has been your biggest surprise?

matchity753 karma

I hated The Tree of Life, but most of the critics loved it, so maybe I was missing something.

And I was pleasantly surprised to see Fast Five get a fresh rating, but I love those movies anyway. I was kinda surprised to see Expendables 2 end up as fresh.

Tactful248 karma

The last half-hour of Ex2 is a fucking brilliant, self-aware, hilarious over-the-top action romp. It's refreshing to see something action-based not take itself seriously for once.

The first half of Tree of Life is amazing. It's like 2001. Maybe give the first half a serious re-watch and see if you budge at all on that one.

matchity433 karma

Yeah, I probably should. I remember sitting through it, and spending most of my time thinking "what the fuck is this!?"

michaelt123347 karma

Is there any chance of the search/sort feature becoming more specific. For example it would be neat if I could search for something like "Highest rated comedies in the last 5 years with more than 50 reviews" or something to that effect.

matchity319 karma

That's a long shot. Our development team is handling a lot of different priorities right now, and although those sorts of improvements are on a "to do" list, it's a really, really long list.

Some_Crazy_Canuck91 karma

If I may, what are some of the ideas on this "to do" list?

matchity356 karma

1 and #2 are "Don't talk about the 'to do' list"

Zumbini76 karma

I had a feeling you'd make movie references.

matchity150 karma

We can't have any conversations in the office without some quote from something.

thequestion6343 karma

Any thoughts on Metacritic?

matchity608 karma

I think they're good at what they do, but I think our site is more fun. But obviously I'm biased.

I think a weighted average like theirs potentially opens the door to a lot of subjectivity on behalf of the aggregators, but we get similar criticism about how we handle neutral reviews.

Ultimately, we're both assigning numerical values to subjective analyses, so users have to pick which version of that they like more.

oaktreeanonymous359 karma

I like your site a lot more than metacritic, and link to it all the time in my own blog posts and such, which is why I hope you'll see this comment:

You guys should expand to television as well!

Some of the best "films" out there are being broadcast once a week on TV. It's not really that hard to argue for watching the latest episode of Breaking Bad or Mad Men instead of the most recent drivel being shown on my local theater screen. As such, It'd be awesome to get Tomatometer scores for TV shows (or individual seasons of TV shows).

matchity822 karma

Stay tuned on that one...

pillowhugs265 karma

Tomato a fruit or a vegetable?

matchity466 karma

Botanists say fruit, government says vegetable, I think.

thequestion6204 karma

How does someone become a "Top Critic"? Do you feel the ratings system is weighed fairly?

matchity262 karma

The criteria for being a Top Critic are here. In a nutshell, we're looking for the people or sources that have the largest reach of the best writing.

We do try and make the system fair, in that it basically boils down to one critic - one vote.

snap_wilson156 karma

"Print publications must achieve and maintain status as one of the following: - A top 100 daily US newspaper - A top 100 weekly US newspaper"

What will you do when there are no more newspapers?

matchity345 karma

Not sure yet. Honestly, that's something I really worry about.

luciditynow189 karma

I'm a long-time metacritic user. How would you convince me that Rotten Tomatoes is better? I prefer metacritic because they use numerical scores (which allows greater accuracy than a simple rotten or fresh), among other reasons.

matchity949 karma

I think we have a broader pool, and a more democratic system, but I think Metacritic does a fine job doing what they do.

But if you like them better, then hey, that's like, your opinion man.

drunkmonkey81172 karma

The Godfather Part II shows 2 rotten reviews, but when I try to read them, only one critic is shown. What did you do to the other guy?

matchity563 karma

Ask Luca Brasi.

AdmiralWhackbar147 karma


matchity480 karma

Probably The Fifth Element. It's kind of a mess, but I love it.

InspecterJones216 karma

Nothing guilty about it for me.


matchity203 karma

chicken, good!

tmbcake13118 karma

An interesting aspect of Rotten Tomatoes (and I guess all websites where comments are allowed) is that, with the scoring system the way it is, people are always rooting for an 100% rating or a 0% rating. To the users of your site, this is exciting, and honestly it is. Very rarely do movies score these numbers and it's really a joy whenever they do.

However, I've seen this as more of a problem on RT than other forums is that this desire, especially with highly anticipated (good or bad) films, seems to get a bit ugly when the streak is broken, most recently notable with the death threats that came after the first few "rotten" reviews of The Dark Knight Rises, or whenever a critic writes positively about a Friedberg & Seltzer film.

My question is how can you hope to control this, if at all on your website? Obviously when it got to death threats it was necessary not to allow commenting on the thread anymore, but there seems to be the amazing split with RT commenters where one person will trash the reviewer and the person directly below will say "hey we're allowed our opinions". Which side do you fall on, and how to you hope to gain traction with your users, if at all when it gets ugly?

matchity227 karma

I referenced this in another post, but when that dogpile happens, it really bums us out. It seems to happen most often with comic-book movies, and as a comic-book fan myself, it really depresses me.

I posted an article about this that week called "this is why we can't have nice things" and basically told people that we can disagree, but let's keep it civil. Or to quote Wheaton, "don't be a dick."

Ultimately, we're going to change how our comment threads are set up so that there isn't a thread for each review, and I think that will help a bit. But we're a pretty big platform, and once you hit a certain traffic level, the trolls definitely come out.

Lexpert1110 karma

  1. How do you determine whether a critique is Rotten or Fresh if the general tone of the article seems to be neutral?

  2. I'm sure you remember the ordeal with internet users flooding message boards of movie critics who gave The Dark Knight Rises a negative review, but there was one article in particular that I read who admitted that he hadn't seen the film yet. How can you add to/take away from a movie's tomato score based on someone who hasn't seen the film's opinion?

  3. How many miles do you recommend between tire rotations?

matchity140 karma

  1. In many cases, the critic submits the review with their own rating. But when we pick up the review, sometimes everyone in the office will read it, and if we really can't agree on a rating, we'll ask the critic. But if something's truly neutral, we'll usually mark it fresh; the phrase we use in the office in that case is "tie goes to the runner"

  2. In that case, we took the link down to that review as soon as we saw it.

  3. About 5,000 miles, depending on how you drive.

Roger_Dorn71 karma

I feel that the neutral comments really get me. For example, one of the reviews will be bad and i read it, and sometimes I feel like its a good review and shouldn't be a rotten tomato. Is there a system to determine if some of the neutral comments are rotten or not? It throws me off sometimes.

matchity134 karma

The neutral ones can be really hard to interpret sometimes. Sometimes three or four of us will read the same review to try and find a line that really defines where the critic stands. If we really can't figure it out, we'll ask the critic directly. That comes up a lot with Hollywood Reporter and Variety, where some of the reviews are as much about the box office potential as they are about the quality.

Tipoe70 karma


What is your favourite movie that has a 'rotten' rating?

matchity174 karma

Probably the first thing to come to mind would the The Fast and the Furious franchise.

LukeSimpson65 karma

Texting in theaters - what should we do here?

matchity195 karma

I could go on a huge rant here (I just did on last week's Rotten Tomatoes Radio show), but I'll just say that I don't think there's any justification for texting in theater full of people. You're either too dumb to realize you're distracting others that paid to see the movie, or you just don't care. Take your pick.

oobydoob63 karma

Why are the forums buried/hidden on your website?

I_have_a_Secret77 karma

Many websites do this. My understanding is that that they want to flush away some of the pleb posters. Those who will go into the depths of the site just to find the forums will mostly do so because they have something important to post.

Plus, regulars know how it all works so the website's already established userbase will add more to the discussion than the new influx of users coming in via google.

Sites that show up very often on Google's page 1 for different keywords do this kind of stuff.

matchity115 karma

That's been a very controversial issue inside the company, to be honest. RT has been owned by three different parent companies while I've been here (News Corp, Flixster, and now Time-Warner), and along the way, the various parent companies have had different philosophies about how the legacy forums would be dealt with. That's probably the most diplomatic way I can put it.

kryzchek61 karma

Would you be willing to become a regular contributor on the Adam Carolla podcast, like David Wild from Rolling Stone has? I would love a weekly segment discussing the crap coming out at the theaters.

matchity43 karma

We're working on that, but Adam's schedule gets really full really quickly (or so they tell me).

Colinizhere861 karma

What actor do you dislike the most, out of everyone you can think of?

matchity203 karma

There are some people I'd like to see do better movies, like Adam Sandler, but Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison still make me laugh. But there's no one I really hate; I save my hate for people I know personally.

littletinyfred60 karma

Personally, what did you think of The Dark Knight Rises?

matchity215 karma

I liked it a lot. I don't know that it stands alone very well, but as a trilogy, Nolan's Batman movies are damn good.

nacholibrary59 karma

Have you ever eaten rotten tomatoes?

matchity177 karma

Not knowingly. I have been known to drink milk the day after it expires though.

charlotte278559 karma

Do you earn a decent salary? Unsure how much someone in your field would be expecting to earn.

norcon76 karma

Editor in Chief of an influential website like this.. should be at least..150k right?

matchity354 karma

I'm sending this recommendation to my boss.

NSFW19 karma

How does the Flixster/TWX ownership structure work? Do you get Time Warner stock? How much editorial freedom do you have, and are there any guarantees? Theoretically you could get a call from your boss's boss's boss's boss telling you to find a way to give the latest Warner Bros. film a push over that line from rotten to fresh or else he'll fire you and find someone who will--right?

matchity61 karma

No stock, but total freedom to write and cover what we want.

If I'd had any doubts about that, they were erased the week Dark Knight Rises opened. No one at WB gave me any direction on how to handle the commenter issues, or what to do when the incident in Aurora happened. After that week, we got some feedback from corporate PR that they thought we handled everything well, but at no point did they ask us to do anything differently.

We never heard anything like that while we were part of News Corp, either.

hypercluster53 karma

Will the Rotten Tomatoes Show ever come back? And what's your personal opinion regarding the scores? Would you see any "fresh" movie as a movie one should go watch? I personally like the seperation into fresh and rotten because oftentimes it's just too much about critics ratings.

matchity182 karma

That incarnation of the show if over, but we're trying to cook up some other things. And I'm trying to get Brett and Ellen to come on the Rotten Tomatoes Radio show; I see Brett every week at Current, when I'm shooting What the Flick.

Regarding scores, I think they can be a good tool in the decision making process if you're on the fence about seeing a movie. But if you're dying to see a particular movie, then go see it; it's ok to see (and like) a movie that the critics don't like.

Except Twilight. Those movies are terrible.

matesviewer53 karma

Describe your typical day.

matchity51 karma

The days vary over the course of the week, because we see most of the reviews come in on Thursdays and Fridays. Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays will be a lot of time planning coverage for the coming weeks, and then going to screenings in the evenings. On Thursdays I do a bunch of radio press appearances, my team is amassing reviews, shoot What the Flick, and then we have Rotten Tomatoes Radio. Fridays have more reviews, more press, and then eventually I go home.

Eh_for_Effort53 karma

Hey Matt, what would you say is your favorite ultra-cheesy movie to watch for laughs (Something along the lines of The Day After Tomorrow or The Core).

What is your favorite genre of movie?


matchity121 karma

My favorite genre of movie is probably sci-fi or action/adventure. And I love a good martial arts movie.

I just re-watched The Rock on cable the other day - does that count as cheesy? Loved it.

nacholibrary44 karma

What was it like in the beginning of your business?

Was it hard, did people have doubts?

matchity67 karma

Rotten Tomatoes began as a side project for a few employees at a company called Design Reactor in Emeryville, CA. This allowed them to fully develop and take risks with the RT concept. Once it became clear this was going to be huge, the site branched off onto its own.

You can see some of the stories about the early days of the site here

trainwreck36942 karma

What is the highest rated movie on Rotten Tomatoes? Lowest?

matchity152 karma

Best reviewed movie of all time is Toy Story 2 - 100% with 161 reviews.

Worst ever is Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever - 0% with 108 reviews.

I_have_a_Secret142 karma

Worst ever is Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever - 0% with 108 reviews.

Already added to my downloads list.

matchity72 karma

There's more where that came from here

Wicksy9238 karma

Have you ever spoke to an Actor/Actress who have had a joke or discussion with their film's ratings with you?

matchity95 karma

A lot. One of the coolest things about working at Rotten Tomatoes is that almost everyone in the film industry seems to know who we are and they use the site. I interviewed James Remar a couple of weeks back and he joked about how many bad movies he had on our site.

My favorite was probably interviewing the Broken Lizard guys. I love Super Troopers, and they all said to us "we love you guys, but you HATE us."

aooot32 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA. Welcome! Do you consider yourself to be movie-savvy? What was your occupation before this? Do you know of some amazing movies that have gotten little to no attention? If so, can you name a few? (Sorry to ask so many.. pick and choose if you wish!) :D

matchity60 karma

I like to think I'm relatively movie-savvy, but there are plenty of people who know more about the art and the business of movies than I do.

Before I was at RT, I had an online music business that failed (which is why I got back into web-based entertainment journalism) and before that I was at Yahoo Movies. I've been covering entertainment on the web off and on for about 15 years. I started out as a Universal Studios Tour Guide and I think I've taken that training to it's ridiculous extreme.

One movie I really tried to talk up last year was Warrior, and I was really happy to see Nolte get an Oscar nomination. He had a scene in that movie that had me in tears.

ak201229 karma

is there any movie with a 0% critic and 100% user or the other way around?

matchity95 karma

I don't think there is that large of a difference, but there are some with a difference of 40-50%. But I think comparing critics scores to user scores is an apples/oranges comparison. Users mostly choose movies they think they'll like, and they're usually right, so most users scores come from a self-selecting pool of people biased towards liking the film. I'm painting in broad strokes here, but the I think the numbers are kind of a false comparison.

robcrusoe28 karma

do you receive fan mails? what's the weirdest one?

has any of the film promoters ever tried to bribe you to review their movies? what's the weirdest one?

what about hate mails?

matchity77 karma

I don't get fan mail.

No one's tried to bribe me, but we do get filmmakers challenging our interpretation of a review. When that happens, we'll check with the reviewer to make sure it's right.

I don't get hate mail, but I do get nasty comments on YouTube.

morrison088027 karma

How do you feel about critics who slam overwhelmingly acclaimed movies, such as Toy Story 3 and E.T.?

matchity43 karma

If someone can legitimately back up their criticism, that's their right. We don't expect everyone to agree.

nacholibrary27 karma

How did you come up with the idea for the site's rating system?

matchity52 karma

That was created by the founders of the site (not me), but my understanding is that 60% works as a pretty clear supermajority.

the_lurkness_monster25 karma

Where do you see Rotten Tomatoes going from here?

What is your opinion on critics writing a negative review to gain traffic to their personal website?

matchity35 karma

We're trying to syndicate the score into more places, and we may expand what we're covering past just movies.

Regarding writing reviews to get traffic, if someone's flagrantly doing that, we try and address it. But it's slippery slope - we're not trying to enforce some kind of group think, and if someone can legitimately argue against the popular opinion, that's their right.

But when someone's been really obvious about it, we've addressed it, up to and including removal from our system if it looks like they're not being honest with their reviewing.

thisisnelson25 karma

Did you ever want to be a filmmaker growing up (or still want to)?

matchity77 karma

I wanted to be in movies, not really direct them or produce them. And then I realized I'd rather watch movies than make them.

BoxOLuv14 karma

Dear Mr. Atchity,

I used to intern at Rotten Tomatoes based out of downtown L.A. I aided the TV show with movie research, teleprompter, and any other errands my producers needed of me. During my time at the show I saw major changes within Current, especially with the RT show. The show shifted from user-submitted reviews to legitimate critics. This tragically changed the entire feel of the show, and in my opinion, killed the show. Even as I left the show, and after they offered me a position, I was never able to get a straight answer why this change occurred? Do you have any knowledge of why this happened.

P.S. - I was the longest intern the Rotten Tomatoes show had. I enjoyed my time thoroughly and look fondly back on the company as a whole. If there are any ever positions open, you can be your bottom dollar I'll be applying!

matchity10 karma

I replied to this, but I think it disappeared.

Anyway, that was a decision by the producers, and we didn't have much input on it. But my take is that since Rotten Tomatoes is about critics' reviews, I feel like having professionals was closer to the spirit of the site.

amoviescriptending13 karma

Thanks for doing this. I love RT!

What's the process of deciding which reviewers should be listed/counted towards the Tomatometer like? Additionally, what are the qualifications needed for one of them to be a "top critic" on there?

matchity20 karma

I just posted about this, but we have our criteria here

nightfan13 karma

One of the things that really stand out to me on the website is the user comments on the professional reviews. I think there is a very clear hivemind mentality among the user comments that is really disturbing - there are SO many hostile comments towards negative reviews for those "good" films and then so many patronizing comments towards positive reviews for "bad" films. How would you go about regulating these comments and improving discussion of these professional reviews?

matchity28 karma

Yeah, we're planning to move away from having individual comment threads linked to specific reviews, because I think that helps focus the dogpile that happens when someone goes against the majority. We'll have one thread for each movie that will be easier to police.