M. Night Shyamalan Hates The Biggest Review Site

M. Night Shyamalan says Rotten Tomatoes has a negative effect on filmmakers today.

By Charlene Badasie | Published

m. night shymalan

M Night Shyamalan says review sites like Rotten Tomatoes have changed the way filmmakers approach their craft. Speaking to Yahoo! Entertainment, the 52-year-old said the site creates a perception of what art should be. And that limits the industry’s ability to create new and exciting work. “Hollywood represents a kind of systemization of art now,” he told the publication.

Comparing the filmmaking landscape to the late 1990s, M Night Shyamalan said the aggregate reaction of viewers didn’t exist back then. “Now, there’s kind of a group forum of what one perceives art to be,” he explained. “Like Rotten Tomatoes and stuff, where it’s perceived that 200 people say this about the film, and then the audience is having an aggregate reaction.”

As a result, the system is making more decisions based on that aggregate. “I think back in 1998, 1999, it wasn’t quite that way. We were still an original movie industry,” M Night Shyamalan continued. He said filmmakers would ask questions about the impact and originality of their work since those were the metrics that mattered back then.

He also credits the old metrics with fostering an explosion of creativity since Rotten Tomatoes didn’t exist. “When Sixth Sense came out, you had one of the greatest years of original storytelling, with The Matrix, Magnolia, American Beauty, The Insider, and Blair Witch,” M Night Shyamalan added. “All these movies came out, all of them phenomenally successful, all around the world.”

M Night Shyamalan explained that it was a “spec screenplay market” back then which offered more opportunities to filmmakers trying to break into the business. “Somebody in Idaho could write this incredible thriller and be bid on because that was what they were looking for. So it was a very exciting time,” he told Yahoo! Entertainment, saying he was built for that time.

The famed director also noted that the change in trends is an indicator of where we were and what the world needed from their entertainment. These days, people gravitate toward the comfort of things that they already are familiar with. He attributes this to life generally being more precarious. M Night Shyamalan isn’t the only director unhappy with review aggregates.

In 2017, Martin Scorsese slammed Rotten Tomatoes and its influence on studios, filmmakers, and audiences in an op-ed for The Hollywood Reporter. “These firms and aggregators have set a tone that is hostile to serious filmmakers,” he wrote, taking a much harsher tone than M Night Shyamalan. “Even the actual name Rotten Tomatoes is insulting.”

Scorsese also noted how film criticism written by people with actual knowledge of film history has gradually faded. Instead, those voices have been replaced by “pure judgmentalism” from people who seem to enjoy seeing films and their creators rejected, dismissed, and ripped to shreds. Meanwhile, M Night Shyamalan’s movies have received a mixed reception on Rotten Tomatoes.

m night shyamalan
Knock at the Cabin

The director has nine projects certified “fresh” while another nine have been declared “rotten.” But his latest offering, Knock at the Cabin earned his best Rotten Tomatoes score since 2016, with a critic score of 68%. Written and directed by M Night Shyamalan, the apocalyptic psychological horror is based on the 2018 novel The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul G. Tremblay.

The story follows a family of three who are vacationing at a remote cabin. But their peace is disturbed when they are suddenly held hostage by four strangers, who demand they sacrifice one of their own to avert the apocalypse. The M Night Shyamalan film stars Dave Bautista alongside Jonathan Groff, Ben Aldridge, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Kristen Cui, Abby Quinn, and Rupert Grint.