Analyzing Rotten Tomatoes

7 July 2022
7 Jul 2022
3 min read

I became interested in examining divisive movie ratings between audience and critics. Specifically, Rotten Tomatoes has two metrics for rating movies: the audience score and the critic’s score. I wanted to take the data and pull out what are the films with the largest difference between these two scores. To put it a different way, I wanted to examine what are the movies that the audience loves but the critic hates, and what are the movies that the critics love but the audience hates.

As with any data problem, I first had to find out where I could access the data. A few google searches didn’t provide anything promising; it didn’t look like Rotten Tomatoes had an API feed that I could access. While investigating my scraping options, I came across this data source from Kaggle. Someone had already done the work for me, except for the data hasn’t been updated since 2020.

The Python code ended up being the easiest part of this - I created a column called diff by subtracting the audience rating from the critic rating and then sorted by df['diff'] descending to see the highest critic rating with the lowest audience rating. Once I had that, I flipped the sort order to ascending to see the highest audience rating with the lowest critic rating.

Without further ado, the top five highly rated critic movies with the lowest audience ratings are:

  1. Outside the Law
  2. Everybody Knows… Elizabeth Murry
  3. Vengeance Valley
  4. Knock Down the House
  5. Never Rarely Sometimes Always

These all seem to match expectations. I’m seeing two documentaries, but they all seem to have been released at movie festivals 1 except for Vengeance Valley.

And the five highest-rated audience movies with the lowest critic reviews are:

  1. 96 Souls
  2. Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?
  3. Hating Breitbart
  4. The After Party
  5. Home

What’s interesting about the five highest-rated audience movies is that there ended up being two documentaries, which surprised me (numbers 3 and 5, per the data). However, I also did see two comedies, which makes sense to me. Another factor here is that all five of these only had a small number of critics review them (in order: 6, 11, 9, 5, 5). It’s easy then to have five critics all put zero, leading to a low critic score.

Overall this was an insightful look at a few divisive movies. I’m not one to let critics dictate what movies I should watch2, but overall there’s further potential to explore what movies may be underrated or undervalued. Hopefully, there’s further exploration into a Rotten Tomatoes API to further explore this rich dataset more frequently.

  1. Examples include Sundance or Cannes ↩︎

  2. See my love of The Fast and Furious franchise ↩︎

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