"Crime took my mother AND father away from me. (flash) So i declared war on crime. (flash, flash, flash) Be good to your fathers...(flash) Or i swear i will hunt you down. (flash) ...and if you don't know what to get him, just take him out to a movie. (cue face-close up) A GOOD movie.(flash) At least 70% fresh on the Tomato-meter."
Enormously popular, influential filmsite that links to movie reviews across North America. The RT site then flags the reviews as either skewing positive ('fresh') or negative ('rotten') and gives the film an overall percentile rating based on how many there are of each type. For example, a movie with nine positive ratings and one negative would receive a 90%. If the reviewer also has a grading system beyond the fresh/rotten scale, then the percentage is averaged into the 'Average Rating' grade cleverly hidden beneath the Tomatometer.
Movies with a rating of 60% or over are officially dubbed 'Fresh' marked with a red tomato/dot, those below are consigned to the 'Rotten' pile with a green splat/dot. Either way, "That's just one person's opinion" is shot down: "No, it's 100+ people's opinions!" (Though the Tomatometer only ranks their vague opinion: a "like" and "love" are equal, "meh" and "hate" are equal. 90% of the critics thinking it was alright gets a better score than 50% of them thinking it was excellent)
The coveted 'Certified Fresh' rating is only given to a movie which has 40 or more reviews (5 of which must be "cream of the crop", meaning well-known critics like Roger Ebert). Once 'Certified Fresh', a movie keeps that designation unless the rating later drops below 60%.
All this makes it a good place to get a quick look at how the overall media buzz is trending for any given film. Following the percentage in the days up to the film's main release has become a popular pop-cult sport: watching the score rise and fall on the films you're looking forward to, crossing your fingers that it stays above that magic 60% until the site makes the call with the consensus statement about the film.
Has expanded in recent years to take in production details, thus includes pre-release reviews, articles and often trailer links.
Rotten Tomatoes has forums, but unfortunately they were remodeled a while back[when?] and the new version actually feels like something of a downgrade. Furthermore, both their comments and forums are often infested with spambots, which they don't seem to have any capability to stop.