Dune’s Rotten Tomatoes Score Hides How Positive Reviews Actually Are

Dune’s Rotten Tomatoes score is considered divisive, despite being fairly high, although it doesn’t truly reveal how positive reviews actually are.

Dune‘s first batch of reviews are considered divisive by some, but its Rotten Tomatoes score doesn’t properly indicate just how positive the early reactions to Dune actually are. While the positive score hardly puts the movie in a bad light, it does suggest there’s more negativity than there actually is.

Denis Villeneuve’s Dune adaptation has always faced a bit of an uphill battle, despite its stellar cast and the talents of Villeneuve. Dune has always been considered unfilmable, and the previous attempts to adapt it didn’t work out too well, and now the movie also faces a tough box office battle with chances of a part 2 sequel finishing the story pinned on its financial performance.


Related: Why Dune Was Always Destined To Be A Divisive Movie

The current Rotten Tomatoes score for Dune is 87%, which is a bit higher than the 85% Rotten Tomatoes average for the MCU (the best franchise to use as a Rotten Tomatoes benchmark due to its sample size and consistent performance on the platform) yet the actual average review score is 8 out of 10, which is far higher than the MCU’s 7.2 average. Another recent blockbuster, The Suicide Squad, has a higher score on the Tomatometer with 91%, but its average review score is lower than Dune‘s at 7.5 out of 10. Since Rotten Tomatoes only reflects the percentage of reviews that are generally positive vs generally negative, the score isn’t influenced by just how positive or negative the individual reviews are, only whether the score is thumbs up or thumbs down.

Dune Rotten Tomatoes score hides positive reviews

As a result, there tends to be a blindspot for more auteur-driven blockbusters. The same thing was seen with Blade Runner 2049, which had an 88% score and 8.2 out of 10 average review score. The real poster child for this Rotten Tomatoes flaw is Joker, which is only 68% despite a 7.3 average review score. In fact, looking to another review aggregator, Metacritic, which divides reviews into positive, mixed, and negative, shows there’s no actual negative reviews for Dune, only a handful of more mild “mixed” scores, which Rotten Tomatoes counts as “Rotten” scores.

Ultimately, Rotten Tomatoes didn’t design the Tomatometer to give a temperature check on the actual reviews, but just to give a rough estimate of where critics are leaning, but the use of a percentage measurement understandably suggests the score is a lot more nuanced. Everyone watching a movie will have their own experience and nobody ever aligns with critics all the time (especially considering even critics are rarely in complete agreement), but understanding the true functioning of the Tomatometer and how it impacts the scores on movies like Dune can help make sure everyone properly understands what Rotten Tomatoes scores actually mean.

Next: Dune’s Best Chance For Success is on Streaming, Not the Big Screen

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