15 Notable Divides Between Audience and Critic Scores on Rotten Tomatoes


Love it or hate it, the movie and TV review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes has become somewhat of a boogeyman in Hollywood, compiling both audience and critic opinions of a given title and evaluating its quality in a binary system as either “rotten” or “fresh.” Often, the consensus among both regular movie-goers and critics is mostly unified, save for a small percentile difference on either side.

In the years since its inception, however, Rotten Tomatoes has played host to its fair share of divisive films, made evident through a misaligned gap between each demographic’s respective score. So, while critics’ opinions often inform that of the general audience (and vice versa), films with divided Tomatometers like Venom and Us prove that in some cases, it’s best to agree to disagree.

15 ‘Don’t Look Up’ (2021) — 23% Divide

Directed by Adam McKay

Image via Netflix

The divisiveness in the discourse surrounding the allegorical satire Don’t Look Up was replicated in the Tomato-verse, where the Adam McKay film currently holds a 22% divide. While the sheer spectacle of Don’t Look Up’s cast may have won most audiences over (earning a 78% score), McKay’s heavy-handed and overly ambitious messaging was critiqued by reviewers with a 55% Tomatometer. It may not be the biggest Rotten Tomatoes gap, but it sure is significant.

Despite the debate (or maybe because of it), Don’t Look Up became one of the lowest-rated Best Picture Oscar nominees on Rotten Tomatoes, an occurrence that undoubtedly didn’t surprise its naysayers. That’s the thing about these kinds of satires: As long as their themes and sense of humor fit audiences’ tastes, it all works out; but it’s just as easy for people to find them off-putting.

Don’t Look Up

Release Date
December 24, 2021

Adam McKay

138 minutes

14 ‘We’re the Millers’ (2013) — 28% Divide

Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber

The comedic tale of a would-be drug dealer and his fake family found its star power in Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis, with enough zingy one-liners to compensate for a somewhat predictable third act. While audiences seemingly took comfort in We’re the Millers‘ formulaic take on the road movie, giving it a 76%, the film’s inability to make better use of its comedic talent left something to be desired among critics, with a 48% Tomatometer to prove it.

In any case, Jennifer Aniston’s rightful place as America’s sweetheart remained intact among both audiences and critics alike. The problem with the movie doesn’t lie in the jokes or the cast, just in the lazily plotted storyline and the way it sort of squanders whatever potential the star-studded cast had.

Rent on Apple TV

13 ‘The Greatest Showman’ (2017) — 29% Divide

Directed by Michael Gracey

Zac Efron and Zendaya interacting in The Greatest Showman
Image via 20th Century Studios

Dazzling choreography and costume design were enough to win over general audiences in 2017’s The Greatest Showman, only enhanced by energetic performances from the likes of Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, and Zendaya. It’s a feel-good tale of acceptance, with a few fun musical numbers thrown in for extra measure, which 86% of viewers loved. However, only 57% of critics were as approving.

While one of Hugh Jackman’s great performances was enjoyed by both demographics, some were displeased with the depiction of the historical figure he portrayed: P.T. Barnum, a less-than-ethical entertainer and businessman that engaged in lots of shady practices during the course of his career. The film’s inaccurate take on its real-life showman was largely debunked by critics, though audiences didn’t seem to mind nearly as much.

The Greatest Showman

Release Date
December 20, 2017


12 ‘Sausage Party’ (2016) — 32% Divide

Directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan

Animated bun and sausage in Sausage Party movie
Image via Sony Pictures

Comedy is perhaps the most subjective movie genre. The kinds of humor that work for some may be entirely unappealing to others. So, when Seth Rogen’s anthropomorphized groceries came to life in Sausage Party, they left critics salivating at an 82% Tomatometer score, but audiences with a bad taste in their mouths at a 50% rating.

Acclaimed by cinephiles for its raucously profane gags and unexpected intellectual depth, the film faced harsher criticism by general movie-goers, who perhaps sought the kind of thoughtless fun promised by Rogen’s less abstract films. Perhaps, then, this polarizing supermarket comedy is best left on the shelf.

11 ‘Us’ (2019) — 32% Divide

Directed by Jordan Peele

Close up of Lupita Nyong'o as Red looking at the camera with her hands on her face in Us movie
Image via Universal Pictures.

Perhaps it was the curse of the sophomore slump that steered audiences away from Jordan Peele’s Us. The follow-up to Get Out promised all the popcorn-friendly trappings of its predecessor, but Us‘ take on the home invasion genre may have been too subversive for horror-seeking movie-goers. They gave it a 61%, as opposed to critics’ 93%.

The film’s high concept was appreciated by cinephiles, who praised the film’s chess-like attention to detail and its particular comedic flair. Divisive as it might’ve been, critics and audiences found common ground in their equal appreciation of the award-worthy yet criminally snubbed lead performance by Lupita Nyong’o.

Us (2019)

Release Date
March 22, 2019

116 minutes

Watch on Fubo

10 ‘Passengers’ (2016) — 33% Divide

Directed by Morten Tyldum

Forlorn Jennifer Lawrence and onlooking Chris Pratt in Passengers movie
Image via Sony Pictures

While neither demographic was particularly fond of Passengers (audiences only scored it a wanting 63%), critics seemingly had a harder time getting past the film’s problematic central premise (giving it 30% approval). For general movie-goers, Passengers‘ big-budget sets and the natural chemistry of its leads might have compensated for Chris Pratt’s concerningly flawed character.

Among more critical audiences, however, the protagonist’s decision to wake up Jennifer Lawrence’s character was almost universally panned. Many claimed that, through a simple change of perspective, Passengers could have achieved “Fresh” status. Frankly, this is a story that warrants a better-written remake, because its premise could make for a tantalizing psychological thriller.


Release Date
December 21, 2016


9 ‘Noah’ (2014) — 34% Divide

Directed by Darren Aronofsky

Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly in Noah
Image via Paramount Pictures

Darren Aronofsky has dipped his toes in all sorts of genres, including the Biblical epic, though he didn’t really have as much success there as he had in others. His Noah stars Russell Crowe as the Biblical figure, a man chosen by God to undertake a momentous mission before an apocalyptic flood cleanses the world. Critics responded relatively well to the film, giving it a 75%, while less-receptive audiences earned it a score of 41%.

Arguably the strangest project of Aronofsky’s career thus far, Noah was praised by most critics for its unique approach to the material and willingness to explore complex themes in quasi-surrealistic ways. But while critics found the film’s weirdness to be a strength, viewers thought it made it absurd and confusing, brought down by an annoying sense of self-seriousness.


Release Date
March 28, 2014

138 Minutes

8 ‘Captain Marvel’ (2019) — 34% Divide

Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck

Brie Larson looking heroic in a desert in Captain Marvel
Image via Marvel Studios

A rare case in which the usually satisfying formula of a superhero film was lost on the general audience but lauded by critics, Captain Marvel will have a hard time recuperating from her lackluster debut. Unable to meet the expectations of its Marvel viewership, fans gave the movie a 45% rating, while critics went for a much more lenient 79%.

What was perceived as miscasting on one end of the spectrum was, among critics, considered a progressive move within a male-dominated genre. This infused Captain Marvel with enough cultural relevance to offset its clichés and stand on its own within the broader MCU canon, becoming a surprise box office hit.

Captain Marvel

Release Date
March 8, 2019

Anna Boden , Ryan Fleck

123 minutes

7 ‘The Super Mario Bros. Movie’ (2023) — 36% Divide

Directed by Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic

Mario and Luigi smiling with their fists raised in the air in The Super Mario Bros. Movie
Image via Universal Pictures

In a year that in many ways defined the future of video game movie adaptations, a lot of pressure was resting on the shoulders of The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Illlumination’s attempt at translating the adventures of the iconic jumping plumber into the silver screen. While critics were indifferent to the result (giving it a 59% score), audiences and their impressive 95% score were much more receptive.

Colorful, breezily paced, and filled to the brim with Easter eggs that Nintendo fans were delighted to see, the film certainly earned its rightful place in the hearts of families around the world, even if critics found the writing way too hollow to enjoy.

6 ‘Spy Kids’ (2001) — 46% Divide

Directed by Robert Rodriguez

Still from Spy Kids of surprised main characters
Image via Dimension Films

Somewhat unprecedented for a film that includes life-sized animated thumbs and flashy CGI, Spy Kids was a surprise critical hit upon its initial release in 2001, receiving a glowing score of 93% among professional reviewers. Audiences, much more unimpressed, gave it a score of 47%. It’s not the worst audience score Rotten Tomatoes has seen, but it’s certainly nothing commendable, either.

While it was the film’s main strength among critics, Spy Kids‘ sheer absurdity was lost on general audiences. The Island of Lost Dreams, the first sequel, scored the franchise its second certified “Fresh” rating. However, the kids seemingly lost their mojo by the third film, which was later deemed “Rotten” by both critics and audiences.

Spy Kids

Release Date
April 4, 2001

88 Minutes

Watch on Paramount+

5 ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ (2017) — 49% Divide

Directed by Rian Johnson

The Last Jedi
Image via Lucasfilm

The Last Jedi‘s measly audience score of 42%, comparable to that of critics’ 91%, can perhaps be explained by the lofty expectations of its die-hard fanbase, who just two years prior were treated to an almost-universally loved film in the nostalgia-filled The Force Awakens. General cinephiles praised director Rian Johnson’s filmmaking prowess, while years-long fans rejected the direction that the film took its characters in.

What resulted, in a rare case where a blockbuster swayed the oft-disapproving critic pool, was The Last Jedi receiving one of the lowest audience scores of any film in the Star Wars franchise. While the divide is stark, Disney’s eighth entry into the galaxy-spanning universe managed to perform well economically, scoring one of the biggest openings of any film in box office history.

4 ‘Uncharted’ (2022) — 50% Divide

Directed by Ruben Fleischer

Tom Holland as Nathan Drake in 'Uncharted'
Image via Sony Pictures

Action movies based on video games don’t have a great track record, and Uncharted was certainly not the one to break that pattern, as the 40% Tomatometer score for critics corroborates. Audiences would disagree, though, considering that they gave the film a 90% approval rating.

While the adaptation failed to capture the sense of scale and adventure of the games it’s loosely based on, its abundance of eye-popping action set pieces and fun throwbacks to old adventure films was enough to make it a worthy audience darling. Though some more demanding viewers and die-hard fans of the series would go so far as to call it one of the weakest efforts in video game adaptation filmmaking in recent years, others would be much more generous.


Release Date
February 10, 2022

1hr 56min

3 ‘Venom’ (2018) — 50% Divide

Directed by Ruben Flesicher

Tom Hardy as Venom, baring his teeth with his tongue sticking out in Venom
Image via Sony Pictures

While critics have grown increasingly tolerant (maybe even fond) of superhero movies, Tom Hardy’s outing as Venom proved that their acceptance has limits. What was a pulpy popcorn treat for audiences (shown in their 80% score), filled with fan-service origin stories and Marvel-adjacent cameos, was for critics on the other end of the spectrum: an overstuffed mess worthy of a 30% Tomatometer score.

Perhaps the audience’s enjoyment of the film is what translated as depthless to a more analytical audience, but it’s a difference of opinions that nonetheless resulted in one of the Tomatometer’s most hotly-debated discrepancies. Venom may not have Rotten Tomatoes’ biggest gap between audience and critic scores, but it comes surprisingly close. With Venom 3 already filming, only time will tell if it will receive a different response.


Release Date
September 28, 2018


2 ‘Super Troopers’ (2001) — 54% Divide

Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar

Image via Fox Searchlight Pictures

As derided by critics as it is adored by its cult following, the 2001 crime comedy Super Troopers is about five Vermont state troopers who try to save their jobs and outdo the local police by solving a crime before them. Its deplorable critic score sits at only 36%, but the much-more-positive audience score that made it a timeless classic is at a whopping 90%.

The movie’s Tomatometer critic consensus reads that it “will most likely appeal to those looking for something silly,” and that’s certainly what most of its fans love about it. Critics thought that its lowbrow humor and excessive length made for a somewhat unappealing time, but audiences think that it’s irresistibly charming, outstandingly funny, and a blast of fun.

1 ‘The Boondock Saints’ (1999) — 65% Divide

Directed by Troy Duffy

Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flannery as Murphy and Connor aiming their guns down in The Boondock Saints
Image via Franchise Pictures

The era-defining cult classicThe Boondock Saints, about two Irish Catholic brothers who become vigilantes wiping out Boston’s criminal underworld, has Rotten Tomatoes’ biggest difference between critics’ and audiences’ scores for a major motion picture. Its Tomatometer is a measly 26%, while audiences raving about this action thriller in the style of Quentin Tarantino gavie it a fantastic 91% score.

Despite a star-studded cast featuring the likes of Norman Reedus and Willem Dafoe, the movie couldn’t avoid being noteworthily divisive. While critics found it charmless and ugly, viewers thought that the humor complemented the film’s exciting action scenes spectacularly.

NEXT: Family Movies That Critics Loved, But Audiences Hated, According to Rotten Tomatoes


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