The Rotten Tomatoes rating for F9 went from fresh to rotten. Why did it bomb, and how does it stack up against the other Fast & Furious films?
F9 began with a fresh 67 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, rising to over 70% during its international run, but dropped to “rotten” after its release in the United States, alternating between “fresh” and “rotten” at the 59 percent -60 percent threshold, giving it the lowest score since the franchise was rebooted with Fast Five. It’s not uncommon for Bad Tomatoes numbers to swing wildly once new batches of reviews arrive, such as Wonder Woman 1984 dropping to rotten after its opening weekend, despite a good score following pre-screenings, but it’s not customary for the Fast and Furious franchise to do so.
While the Fast and Furious franchise has always had a loyal following and done well at the movie office, it wasn’t until it transitioned into the super-spy brand that it is now that it began to win over critics and make enormous box office splashes. While Rotten Tomatoes gave the first four films a “rotten” rating, things quickly improved after that. Fast and Furious 6 was “certified fresh” at 70%, Furious 7 was “certified fresh” at 82 percent, Fate of the Furious was “certified fresh” at 67 percent, and even the Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw spin-off was “certified fresh” at 67 percent. The new film is notable not only for having the lowest score but also for the fact that it went from “fresh” to “rotten” in such a short period of time, despite the fact that the reason for this is understandable.
The Fast and the Furious franchise’s biggest boost in popularity occurred with The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, when foreign box office surpassed domestic box office for the first time, with 60 percent of the nearly $160 overall box office coming from international regions. That amount has only risen, with international markets accounting for nearly 82 percent of the global box office for Fate of the Furious. F9 presently has about 75% international grosses, albeit this will be skewed by the fact that the domestic box office is still recuperating from the pandemic.
Although reviews and box revenue do not always correspond, the rising divide between domestic and international box office in the Fast and Furious franchise is indicative of the franchise’s higher popularity abroad. Because F9 was released in China a month before it was released in the United States, the first batch of reviews came from a region where the franchise is more popular, resulting in a massive influx of new reviews when it was released in the United States, going from 23 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes on May 30th to nearly 200 after the domestic release.
The quantity of Rotten Tomatoes reviews for F9 has decreased significantly. The amount of reviews submitted to Rotten Tomatoes for each Fast and Furious film has increased from film to film, beginning with Fast and Furious, which received 177 reviews, about 40 more than The Fast and Furious: Toyko Drift, which received 343. F9 has only 262 at this moment, which is less than Furious 7. The amount of reviews submitted has no bearing on the final score, however, the more there are, the better. The less each new review affects the overall score, the better. F9 shouldn’t expect many more reviews at this point, but the fact that it’s hovering between “fresh” and “rotten” on the Tomatometer implies it could still switch ratings a few times more.