Rotten Tomatoes Alternative CherryPicks to Battle Gender Imbalance in Film Criticism

Miranda Bailey - 2017 Film Independent Spirit Awards - Getty - H 2018
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"I'm trying to create more diversity," film producer/director Miranda Bailey tells THR about her new female-critics-only site.

In the midst of annual studies measuring representation behind the camera, Hollywood is well aware that it needs to give female directors more opportunities to tell their own stories.

But film producer/director Miranda Bailey (The Squid and the Whale, Diary of a Teenage Girl) insists the gender imbalance among U.S. film critics — the vast majority are men — also needs addressing.

So she's launching CherryPicks, a Rotten Tomatoes-style site featuring female-only critics so they can recommend movies to like-minded women headed to the multiplex or streaming services and get their critical voices amplified.

"We're creating a platform where women can go to and see what other critics that are their gender think about art and media," Bailey told The Hollywood Reporter. She added that the current #MeToo and Time's Up campaigns have no direct bearing on CherryPicks' launching.

Instead, the site, unveiled at SXSW, has emerged because just over half of moviegoers and new streaming music users are women — and most art and media critics are men. "I'm trying to create more diversity," Bailey explained.

CherryPicks is also part aggregation: Like Rotten Tomatoes, the site will bring the best of female critics and their analysis and recommendations to a mostly female audience. Bailey said tentpoles like Black Panther and Star Wars: The Last Jedi may or may not get a vastly different score when recommended by female or male critics because neither is especially female-skewing.

But films like Bad Moms may well nab a high Rotten Tomatoes score because, she said, mostly male critics review and like such gag-filled pics. Women critics, by contrast, may "have noticed Bad Moms is not a particularly good movie ... and will have a totally different score," Bailey added.

Where Rotten Tomatoes has red tomatoes and a green splat, CherryPicks has pits and a fresh bowl of cherries. The bottom line, Bailey said, is movies that get a higher score from women critics may find an audience likely to elude them when mostly male critics judge their critical and commercial value.

"This is a way for us to cherry-pick out female opinion, because there's not enough of us," Bailey insisted. Besides getting more women critics to generate all-important film buzz, she added that CherryPicks also aims to get more female-driven stories and movies, written and directed by women, into cinemas.

"There's no way to change the kinds of movies we make if the people telling people which movies to see all think one way," Bailey said. The female-only critics site will also look to warn audiences about entertainment content that objectifies women, or contains onscreen violence against women.