Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese (finally) won an Oscar in 2007 for The Department. Getty Images

Martin Scorsese has written a scathing criticism of Hollywood's obsession with box office takings and review-aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, which he says has "absolutely nothing to do with real film criticism".

Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, the legendary director of Taxi Driver and Goodfellas explained how he was spurred into writing the piece by Darren Aronofsky's Mother!, which was critically praised but didn't perform at the box office.

"People seemed to be out for blood, simply because the film couldn't be easily defined or interpreted or reduced to a two-word description," he wrote.

"Box office is the undercurrent in almost all discussions of cinema, and frequently it's more than just an undercurrent.

"The brutal judgmentalism that has made opening weekend grosses into a bloodthirsty spectator sport seems to have encouraged an even more brutal approach to film reviewing.

"I'm talking about market research firms like Cinemascore, which started in the late '70s, and online 'aggregators' like Rotten Tomatoes, which have absolutely nothing to do with real film criticism.

"They rate a picture the way you'd rate a horse at the racetrack, a restaurant in a Zagat's guide, or a household appliance in Consumer Reports. They have everything to do with the movie business and absolutely nothing to do with either the creation or the intelligent viewing of film.

"The filmmaker is reduced to a content manufacturer and the viewer to an unadventurous consumer."

Rotten Tomatoes rounds up professional reviews of films, creating a percentage from the average score given, which in turn decides where it's certified 'Fresh' or 'Rotten' dependent on whether the average is above or below 60%.

The public can also attribute to an audience score, which shows the percentage of viewers who reviewed a film positively.

In recent years it has become the go-to website for a simple overview of a film's critical reception, but it is often criticised for disregarding the nuance of criticism by boiling complex thoughts down into easily-digested numbers.

"These firms and aggregators have set a tone that is hostile to serious filmmakers – even the actual name Rotten Tomatoes is insulting. And as film criticism written by passionately engaged people with actual knowledge of film history has gradually faded from the scene, it seems like there are more and more voices out there engaged in pure judgmentalism, people who seem to take pleasure in seeing films and filmmakers rejected, dismissed and in some cases ripped to shreds. Not unlike the increasingly desperate and bloodthirsty crowd near the end of Darren Aronofsky's Mother!

"After I had a chance to see Mother!, I was even more disturbed by this rush to judgment, and that's why I wanted to share my thoughts. People seemed to be out for blood, simply because the film couldn't be easily defined or interpreted or reduced to a two-word description.

"Is it a horror movie, or a dark comedy, or a biblical allegory, or a cautionary fable about moral and environmental devastation? Maybe a little of all of the above, but certainly not just any one of those neat categories."

Scorsese's full essay goes into lot more detail and is well worth reading to appreciate his more nuanced argument.