Chris Evans has conquered the world as Captain America, so the only competition that remains is other handsome, rich, famous guys named Chris. Specifically: Hemsworth, Pine, and Pratt. But because nobody wants them damaging their pretty, heavily-insured faces in some hunky battle royale, Rotten Tomatoes is stepping up! We re using stats like box office, Tomatometers, and best franchises to settle the ultimate Chris debate once and for all!Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.
The Blacklist Sneak Peek: James Spader and Harry Lennix Contemplate Moral Ambiguity Cooper tells Red about a suspicious political opportunity in this clip from "Ogden Greeley," episode 8 of season 8. by RT Staff | February 26, 2021 | Comments
The frontpage in 1998. One problem: Senh had left Design Reactor and taken Rotten Tomatoes with him. The site was still hosted on Design Reactor s servers, but the trio decided that Senh would leave the company to devote himself to his passion project, and be replaced by a new Creative Director. Senh left the Bay Area and went back to Sacramento, but the accumulative work burnt him out. Even Rotten Tomatoes – where everything was still manual and included treks to the library to copy review quotes from newspapers – had lost its luster. The site stopped being updated for several weeks. People wrote in asking what was happening. Perhaps, Senh thought, he’d take a crack at his original love: Filmmaking.Senh got in touch with two Sacramento high school friends: Bobby Ly, an accountant who clerked at his family s Chinese video store where Senh rented Hong Kong movies, and Binh Ngo, who at the time was working the night shift at a veterinarian clinic. Bobby would nominally update Rotten Tomatoes, while Senh and Binh set out to shoot a movie, using Robert Rodriguez’s Rebel Without a Crew – which chronicles the director’s early and frugal days in the industry – as a guide and bible. The plan was to adapt horror novelist Dean Koontz’s novel Fear Nothing, whose protagonist has xeroderma pigmentosum, a genetic disorder that causes severe sunburn and skin pigmentation after brief daylight exposure, something that would facilitate many night shoots. After a few weeks, they had enough footage to show to close friends and family, including Binh’s sister, whose response was blunt: “This is horrible.”“How did that feel?” I asked Senh.“Not good,” he says, laughing.Did negative reviews save Rotten Tomatoes? Maybe, but both Bobby and Binh had convinced Senh that Rotten Tomatoes was still worth pursuing. The three resumed work on the site. Fear Nothing remains un-adapted.Léolo, which inspired the Rotten Tomatoes name, and A Bug s Life, whose site traffic suggested RT was being making an impact in the industry. (Photo by Pixar/Courtesy Everett Collection)Cut to early 1999, with the dotcom bubble in full bloom. I could tell because I was in high school in San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley, and traffic was getting worse every day. Modern life had evolved computers from luxury to necessity, and mass adoption of the Internet was connecting the world in an unfathomably exciting new way. And with that, new opportunities to get rich. An idea, presented well enough, was enough to get venture capitalists to rattle their bank accounts for cash to invest, as a billion dollars in frenzied speculation transformed the Bay Area.Design Reactor was growing, significantly helped along by a deal with Disney to create and maintain everything Disney Channel online. Things were going well enough that they hired a CFO, Lily Chi, and a Marketing Director, Paul Lee, who had actually been one of Design Reactor’s co-founders.Still, people weren’t exactly tripping over themselves to invest in a web design firm. It was the ’90s. They wanted edgy, extreme. Rotten Tomatoes was identified as the breakthrough Trojan horse. Senh accepted an offer from Patrick and Stephen to reunite, bringing Binh and Bobby with him. Patrick, who was the best of the group when it came to working with people and managing relationships, raised .2 million across 1999. Rotten Tomatoes aimed to be incorporated January 2000. Design Reactor and its business would be taken over by another company in San Jose at that point. All 25 of its current employees elected to make the jump over to Rotten Tomatoes the next year.Meanwhile, with Rotten Tomatoes back in the fold, Design Reactor’s Susan Nakasora was brought over to RT right away. She had an English degree, and her job was to copyedit everything on site, including the quotes from reviews that you see on a movie’s page. Binh, relatively along for the ride, was installed as Rotten Tomatoes’ first editor-in-chief, though most of the writing involved creating spotlight copy on the homepage pointing to movies around the site. This was the start of the editorial team at Rotten Tomatoes.Binh, jokingly reflecting on the job, told me: “I kept on thinking that I only wrote two sentences through all my time there: ‘Click here’ and ‘Read more. ”(It wouldn’t be until November 2004 that Rotten Tomatoes would expand into news coverage, with features, interviews, and more. The first article we posted reported on development rumors of a Halo movie. Some things never change.)During this time, publicists began inviting staff to early movie screenings. Binh and Senh recall showing up and being denied entry the first few times, as studio representatives believed their invites to be fake. Binh presumes this was because they were fresh-faced Asians in a white male-dominated field, though Senh takes a broader interpretation.“They were generally wary of online critics and treated them as second-class citizens,” Senh says. “That was one of the reasons why I wanted to feature online critics on the Tomatometer.”THE MARKET CRASHES, BUT AN OFFICE MOVE-IN, SHOWBIZ FRIENDS, AND DIABLO LATE-NIGHTS GO A LONG WAYPatrick Lee in 2017. (Photo by Maggie West)January 2000: Three months before the dotcom bubble burst. Time to incorporate Rotten Tomatoes. One investor who was part of the .2 million angel funding had gotten cold feet, but Disney paying up on accounts receivable as Design Reactor was spun off to independence netted the team another million. Early after incorporating (under the name Incfusion, because something called Rotten Tomatoes was not considered a legitimate business), Patrick brokered a deal to have mySimon.com, a price search engine, integrated onto the site. Though no one could know it at the time, the monthly income from the deal would be crucial to RT’s imminent survival.On April 14, the bubble officially burst as the Nasdaq dropped 9% in one day. By the end of the week, the loss would be 25%, and by the end of the year, .75 trillion in Internet stock will have evaporated. Traffic in the Bay Area returns to normal.A 13-digit loss in market valuation spooked investors and the money dried up from the landscape. As other startups started dying overnight, the Rotten Tomatoes team knew hard decisions would have to be made.“At the end of the day, you can’t really fight the numbers,” Paul says. “We had an all-hands meeting, where we were honest with everybody that we have to start reducing headcount. We wanted to make sure that everybody had a chance to find something else. Because everybody was doing something very important, we had to downsize in a way that wasn’t disruptive to the business.”“We had to do what we had to do to stay alive,” Patrick says. “I remember it was 25, 21, 17, 14, 11, and then seven employees.”This was Senh, Patrick, and Stephen, the founders of Rotten Tomatoes; editorial members Binh and Susan; and CFO Lily with Marketing Director Paul.Stephen Wang in 2016. (Photo by Getty Images: Bloomberg / Contributor)More drastic measures would be taken. mySimon.com was not spared its fate as a dotcom casualty, and when that monthly income went away in 2001, Patrick and Paul opted to take no salary for the next six months. Everyone else took a 30%-50% pay cut. Patrick himself decided to move into the office.“Patrick and I were living off our savings, and one day, he had this idea that rent was his biggest expense,” Paul told us in our original oral history. “Using the justification that he was a neat freak (believe me, Patrick is borderline obsessive-compulsive when it comes to cleanliness), he kind of wondered aloud whether he could just simply move out of his apartment and live in the office.”Patrick recalled: “It wasn’t bad. We had those pretty nice couches that could expand out. I had a little fold-out mattress and a sleeping bag, so I was pretty well hidden in case a security guard came through.”Weekdays, they would work expanding the site. Weekends often saw casino trips to play poker, even down to Vegas, and hitting up the buffet line because food was cheap. Jet Li invited everyone to his house and treated them to magnificent Mongolian BBQ. Stephen got to know Ebert, and would travel to Chicago at his invitation to meet at film events he organized. A former employee who landed at Pixar got them tours and screenings at their campus down the street. And those late encounters with security at the office were never hard to explain because Senh, who disliked showing up before noon, would tinker on Rotten Tomatoes deep into the night. Some would stick around to watch movies, as others set up for that great gathering of those dotcom days: LAN parties.In our oral history, Susan recalled: “For a while there was an RT guild in World of Warcraft, consisting of several current (for that time) and past employees, plus some friends. The guild’s tabard symbol was a shape that somewhat resembled a tomato splat. Binh was awesome – a gnome warrior who wore a deep sea diving helmet.”“We would all end up playing Diablo II, until like two in the morning,” Patrick tells me. “Either fall asleep in the office or go home, and then do it again. And then on the weekends, Friday night, we would play until six in the morning, until we’re literally falling asleep at our computers.”Dance Dance Revolution was another favorite party game, which Binh suspects didn t ingratiate the team with their office neighbor the floor below.The brand was on the brink, and times were rough, but everyone still believed in Rotten Tomatoes as a viable business. They were devoted to the site, but also to each other, working on this shared mission and developing a small, unique Asian-American community in this dingy Bay Area office.Patrick’s hunch to keep your friends close after graduating was right. That was the uniqueness I felt when I first arrived – a lingering philosophy of kindness and generosity. I asked if anyone considered leaving.“No, not really,” Stephen says. “I just really enjoyed working on the project during those years. I enjoyed working with Senh and Pat and Paul. Despite all of the business challenges, the site continued to grow, the user base continued to grow. It was a steady path upwards.”There was a sense of family at Rotten Tomatoes, and for some it would become literal: Senh ended up marrying Binh’s cousin, while Susan married Patrick’s brother, Bryan.BETTER LUCK TODAY: THE SITE RECOVERS AND STARTS GIVING BACK TO ASIAN-AMERICAN CREATIVES