Rotten Tomatoes has revamped the way it classifies film and TV critics among its “Top Critics” as a way to increase diversity among pop culture criticism and provide a more inclusive range of opinions on a given film or show.
Previously, the company determined whether a critic was one of its Top Critics — filtering out a select few of the biggest names from the hundreds of other critics in the database that make up a film or show’s overall TomatoMeter score — based solely on their publication or employer’s status.
Now, however, Rotten Tomatoes will place a bigger emphasis on a critic’s individual qualifications and overall body of work in entertainment criticism. The aggregator also looked to podcasts and digital and video series as sources that are now eligible for Top Critic consideration.
With this latest change, 170 new critics have been approved as among the site’s Top Critics — including TheWrap’s head critic Alonso Duralde. Of those new names, 60% are women, roughly 25% are people of color and 24% publish critiques via video and podcast media.
The revamp comes on the heels of Rotten Tomatoes’ bigger push beginning in 2018 to make its overall database of critics more diverse. Its new criteria allowed the site to add 825 new critics, with just over half of them being women, including a majority of freelance writers.
“At Rotten Tomatoes, we continue our commitment to building a more inclusive critics pool that reflects and serves the global entertainment audience, and today we took another important step by modernizing our Top Critics program,” Jenny Jediny, Rotten Tomatoes head of critics relations, said in a statement. “Our team understands the value of the Top Critic designation and its ability to expand professional opportunities for critics. With an increased focus on individual merit and contributions to the field of criticism, our team is thrilled to award Top Critic status to an additional 170 deserving voices.”
“Professional critics have been the backbone of Rotten Tomatoes for more than 20 years and they have helped Rotten Tomatoes grow into the trusted resource for entertainment reviews and recommendations,” Paul Yanover, president of Fandango, Rotten Tomatoes’ parent company, said in a statement. “Revamping Rotten Tomatoes’ Top Critics program is another key move in our ongoing effort to increase inclusion and elevate the voices of underrepresented critics, ensuring that we serve our global audience with the best, most authentic information.”
The designation for Top Critics will now be determined by a selection committee that includes the Rotten Tomatoes critic relations and curation teams, as well as a recently formed advisory board of other critics and industry professionals.
A full list of qualifications for becoming a Top Critic, as well as the names on the advisory board, are listed here.
Rotten Tomatoes has also put in place grant programs to help critics from underrepresented groups attend film festivals — including Sundance, TIFF, SXSW and NYFF — as well as other workshops and networking events. The grant program additionally offers connections to editors, studio publicity, marketing executives and festival organizers. Rotten Tomatoes also established a multi-year Rotten Tomatoes fellowship with the USC Annenberg School of Journalism and Communications, and supports the LA Film Critics Association’s Ruth Batchelor Scholarships for female and minority students attending L.A.-based junior colleges.