Depending on who you ask, Rotten Tomatoes is either one of the best or worst things to happen to cinema today. It spelled the death of films like The Dark Tower and Baywatch this summer. But it also lifted up good movies like Wonder Woman and Dunkirk.
The US movie-review site aggregates reactions from film critics into a consensus score that’s illustrated by either a “fresh” or “rotten” tomato to give moviegoers a rough idea of what to expect in theaters. This summer, US audiences aligned behind well-received big-budget films that took risks and broke from the tired storylines that Hollywood had been relying on.
Most of Rotten Tomatoes’ 10 best-reviewed wide-releases of the summer ranked among the top-grossing films of the season, domestically, or performed better than expected during a period plagued by disappointing box-office turnouts.
Wonder Woman, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Dunkirk, which were all praised by critics on Rotten Tomatoes, were among the five highest-grossing movies of the summer, with more than $150 million in total domestic returns and counting each. That includes the US and Canada.
And smart original films—i.e. those that weren’t adapted from books, comic books, or other earlier works—like Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver and the buddy comedy Girls Trip had stronger debuts than box-office analysts had anticipated.
Not every movie that was a hit with critics won over audiences. Steven Soderbergh’s heist film Logan Lucky was probably the best-reviewed movie of summer that no one watched. And smaller indies like It Comes At Night and The Big Sick had a harder time breaking out when they were released widely in 600 theaters or more. But they opened stronger than poorly reviewed movies, like Wish Upon and The Book of Henry that were released on comparable scales.
Audiences on Rotten Tomatoes also agreed heartily with critics on most of the top 10 films of the summer. Their favorites played out in a slightly different order. A greater share of audience members liked Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Megan Leavey, a biography about a young Marine and her combat dog, than Logan Lucky and the horror film It Comes At Night.