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Rotten Tomatoes’ Latest Class of Approved Critics Is 55% Female—a Huge Step for Inclusion


Rotten Tomatoes certified fresh logo.

Film criticism, like every other aspect of the industry, tends to be dominated by cishet white men. Rotten Tomatoes is trying to level the playing field with both their grants for underrepresented critics to attend film festivals and by welcoming in a large class of new Rotten Tomatoes-approved critics. Of the 600 critics, 55% are women, which means that the class has reached gender parity, a rare statement to be made.

Rotten Tomatoes will also renew their pledge of $100,000 to help critics from marginalized backgrounds attend festivals like TIFF and Sundance. Paul Yanover, president of Rotten Tomatoes’ parent company, Fandango, said in a statement (via Variety),

Rotten Tomatoes is connecting audiences with authentic, trusted information from professional critics and fellow fans, to help them discover entertainment and decide what to watch in theaters and at home.

Significant advancements are happening across Rotten Tomatoes, from the team’s work to increase critic diversity in the Tomatometer to expanding consumer confidence with the new Verified Audience Score. We are especially proud to commit to another $100,000 grant in 2020 to support film festivals and industry initiatives that further inclusion in entertainment criticism.

Another big move forward for Rotten Tomatoes is that 60% of the newly approved critics are freelancers. A majority of staff positions are still held by white cishet men; including more freelancers opens the door to critics from marginalized groups who aren’t able to snag coveted staff spots. As media changes and seems to shrink, staff positions are few and far between. By opening up the critical pool to those who freelance, you open the door to more inclusive voices who bring new perspectives to films, rather than the same voices for every project.

Festival accessibility is also important. Some critics don’t have the budget to travel to certain festivals to catch up with the latest releases, which makes it harder to diversify the reviews coming out of these festivals, which often determine early Oscar buzz. By creating grants for critics to attend, this levels the playing field and allows more critics to attend. Therefore, more critics to weigh in on the latest big releases. While this may seem silly, it’s important because we need to make sure that critics are as diverse as the audiences who’ll be seeing the films.

It’s important to make film criticism not only accessible for critics but inclusive for all audiences. Rotten Tomatoes gets an unfair amount of flack for aggregating reviews and is accused of bias towards certain studios, but they’re putting their money where their mouth is in terms of making critic inclusion a priority, and if you can’t respect that, then I don’t know what to tell you.

(via Variety, image:

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Kate (they/them) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions they have. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, they are now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for their favorite rare pairs.