How Are Metacritic Scores Calculated?




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Curious about how Metacritic scores are calculated? In this article, we’ll delve into the fascinating world of movie reviews and explore the complex process behind determining those numerical ratings we often see. Aimed at a diverse audience, including film students, industry professionals, and anyone intrigued by the meta-discussion surrounding movie reviews, our purpose is to shed light on the ethics, methodologies, and impact of film criticism. Through a variety of formats like FAQs, think pieces, and interviews with critics, we’ll provide well-researched insights supported by data, quotes from industry professionals, and academic references. So, let’s dive into the subject and uncover the secrets behind the Metacritic scores!

Overview of Metacritic

What is Metacritic?

Metacritic is a website that aggregates reviews of various forms of entertainment, including movies, TV shows, music, video games, and more. It compiles these reviews into a weighted average score, giving users an overall assessment of the quality and critical reception of a particular media product.

History of Metacritic

Metacritic was founded in 1999 by Jason Dietz and Marc Doyle, with the goal of providing a platform that could aggregate and summarize reviews from reputable sources. It quickly gained popularity and became a trusted source for critical analysis. Over the years, Metacritic has expanded its coverage to include multiple forms of entertainment and has become an influential platform in the industry.

Purpose of Metacritic

The main purpose of Metacritic is to help consumers make informed decisions about which movies, TV shows, music, video games, and other forms of entertainment to engage with. By providing aggregated scores, Metacritic aims to distill the opinions of professional critics and users into a single metric, making it easier for individuals to gauge the overall quality of a particular media product.

Components of Metacritic Scores

How are Metacritic Scores Calculated?

Metacritic scores are calculated using a weighted average system that takes into account the ratings given by professional critics and user reviews. Each review is assigned a numerical value, typically on a scale of 0-100, and the scores are weighted based on the perceived credibility and influence of the source. The weighted average is then calculated to generate the overall Metacritic score.

Weighted Averages

Weighted averages are an essential component of the Metacritic scoring system. They assign different degrees of importance to each review based on factors such as the reputation, experience, and influence of the critic or publication. This weighting system ensures that reviews from more influential sources have a greater impact on the final score.

Inclusion of Reviews

Metacritic aims to include a diverse range of reviews in its aggregation process. It considers reviews from professional critics, which typically come from established publications or reputable online sources. It also includes user reviews, which can provide a different perspective and voice. By incorporating both types of reviews, Metacritic offers a more comprehensive assessment of a media product’s overall reception.

Exclusion of Outliers

To maintain the integrity of the scoring system, Metacritic identifies and excludes outliers from its calculations. Outliers are reviews that deviate significantly from the overall consensus. By removing these extreme scores, Metacritic ensures that the final score reflects the general consensus of critical opinion.

Weighted Averages

Importance of Weighting

The importance of weighting in the Metacritic score calculation cannot be overstated. It allows for a more nuanced evaluation of reviews, giving greater weight to sources that are considered more credible, experienced, or influential. This approach accounts for the fact that not all reviews should be given equal weight, as the expertise and reputation of the critic and publication can significantly impact the validity of their evaluation.

How Scores are Weighted

Metacritic employs a proprietary algorithm to determine the weightings assigned to each review. While the exact details of this algorithm are not publicly disclosed, it is known that factors such as the reputation of the critic or publication, the size of the readership, and the relevance of the outlet to the specific media form being reviewed are taken into account. The algorithm aims to strike a balance between recognizing credibility and giving a fair chance to emerging voices or smaller publications.

Criticism of Weighting System

While the weighting system used by Metacritic has its merits, it has also faced its fair share of criticism. Some argue that the influence of certain publications or critics is overemphasized, leading to a skew in the final score. Others believe that the algorithm should be made more transparent, allowing users to understand how the weightings are determined. Despite these criticisms, the overall consensus is that the weighting system employed by Metacritic is generally effective in providing balanced and reliable scores.

Inclusion of Reviews

Types of Reviews

Metacritic includes two main types of reviews in its scoring system: professional critics’ reviews and user reviews. Professional critics’ reviews are typically written by recognized journalists or experts in their respective fields. User reviews, on the other hand, are contributed by everyday consumers who have experienced the media product and wish to share their opinions.

Selection Process

For professional critics’ reviews, Metacritic primarily includes reviews from established publications or reputable online sources. These sources are chosen based on factors such as their reputation, history of critical analysis, and relevance to the specific media form being reviewed. Metacritic aims to ensure that the selected sources represent a diverse range of perspectives and opinions.

Quality Assessment

Metacritic also takes into account the quality of the reviews when including them in the scoring system. The website employs a quality assessment process, where the writing style, depth of analysis, and overall coherence of the review are considered. This ensures that only reviews that meet certain standards of quality and professionalism are included in the aggregation process.

Exclusion of Outliers

Identifying Outliers

To prevent extreme scores from distorting the final Metacritic score, outliers are identified and excluded from the calculation process. Outliers can come in various forms, such as excessively high or low scores that deviate significantly from the consensus. Metacritic uses statistical analysis techniques to identify these outliers and determine their exclusion from the final score.

Removing Outliers

When outliers are identified, Metacritic removes them from the calculation process to ensure the overall score reflects the general consensus of critical opinion. By excluding outliers, Metacritic aims to provide a more accurate representation of the overall critical reception of a media product. This process helps to filter out potential biases or extreme opinions that may not align with the majority view.

Effects on Overall Score

The exclusion of outliers can have a significant impact on the final Metacritic score. By removing extreme scores, the overall score becomes more reflective of the general critical consensus. This helps to mitigate the influence of outliers, ensuring that the final score provides a fair evaluation of the media product.

Factors Influencing Metacritic Scores

Impact of Professional Critics

Professional critics play a crucial role in shaping Metacritic scores. Their reviews often carry more weight due to their expertise, reputation, and influence. Positive reviews from respected critics can significantly boost a media product’s score, while negative reviews can have the opposite effect. The impact of professional critics highlights the importance of their evaluations in shaping the overall perception of a media product.

Influence of User Reviews

User reviews also have an impact on Metacritic scores. While they may not carry the same weight as professional critics’ reviews, they represent the opinions and experiences of a broader range of individuals. User reviews can provide unique perspectives and insights that differ from those of professional critics. Their inclusion in the scoring system acknowledges the value of public opinion in determining the overall reception of a media product.

Weighting of Scores

The weighting of scores assigned to each review is another factor that influences Metacritic scores. As mentioned earlier, the weightings are determined based on factors such as the credibility and influence of the critic or publication. The weighting system helps to balance the impact of different reviews, ensuring that those from more reputable or influential sources have a greater influence on the final score.

Criticisms of Metacritic

Lack of Transparency

One common criticism leveled against Metacritic is the lack of transparency regarding its scoring methodology. The specific details of the algorithm used to calculate the scores, including the weightings assigned to different reviews, are not publicly disclosed. This lack of transparency can lead to skepticism and questions about the fairness and accuracy of the scoring system.

Influence on Industry

Metacritic has become a powerful player in the media industry, with its scores often cited and used as a measure of success or failure. Some argue that the influence of Metacritic scores can put undue pressure on media creators and influence industry decisions. The impact of Metacritic on the industry raises concerns about the potential homogenization of content and the emphasis on critical reception over creative expression.

One-Dimensional Measurement

Critics also argue that Metacritic’s scoring system provides a one-dimensional measurement of quality. While the weighted average score can provide a general assessment, it does not capture the nuanced aspects of a media product’s strengths or weaknesses. Factors such as storytelling, visual aesthetics, and emotional impact may be overlooked or undervalued when reducing a media product’s evaluation to a single numerical score.

Alternatives to Metacritic

Role of Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes is another popular review aggregator that serves as an alternative to Metacritic. While Metacritic focuses on weighted averages, Rotten Tomatoes uses a different approach that calculates the percentage of positive reviews. Rotten Tomatoes’ system allows for a clearer representation of the ratio of positive to negative reviews, providing a different perspective for users making decisions about media consumption.

Other Aggregators

In addition to Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes, there are several other review aggregators that specialize in specific media forms. For example, IMDb focuses on movies and TV shows, while Rate Your Music aggregates reviews for music albums. These alternative aggregators offer different approaches and perspectives, catering to specific audiences and providing additional options for individuals seeking aggregated reviews.

Emerging Alternatives

As the media landscape continues to evolve, new alternatives to Metacritic are emerging. Some platforms are experimenting with different scoring systems or incorporating additional factors to provide more comprehensive assessments. These emerging alternatives aim to address some of the criticisms directed at Review Aggregators like Metacritic and provide users with a more diverse and nuanced understanding of media products.

Recent Trends in Metacritic Scores

Shifting Influence of Critics

In recent years, the influence of professional critics on Metacritic scores has seen some changes. With the rise of social media and digital platforms, new voices and perspectives have gained prominence in the media landscape. User-generated content and the democratization of criticism have led to a diversification of opinions and an expanded pool of reviewers. This shifting influence highlights the need to consider a broader range of perspectives when evaluating media products’ critical reception.

Impact of User Reviews

User reviews have also gained prominence in shaping Metacritic scores. As more individuals participate in online discussions and express their opinions, user reviews have become a crucial factor in determining the overall reception of a media product. The power of user-generated content has led to debates about the validity and reliability of user reviews and their impact on the perceived quality of a media product.

Comparison with Box Office Performance

The relationship between Metacritic scores and box office performance has become an area of interest. Some studies have found a correlation between higher Metacritic scores and stronger box office performance, suggesting that positive critical reception can influence audience interest and ticket sales. However, it is important to note that other factors, such as marketing and audience preferences, also play a significant role in box office success.


In conclusion, Metacritic serves as a valuable resource for consumers looking to make informed decisions about media consumption. Through its weighted average score calculation, inclusion of professional and user reviews, and exclusion of outliers, Metacritic provides a comprehensive evaluation of a media product’s critical reception. While there are criticisms regarding transparency, industry influence, and the limitations of numerical scoring systems, the continued evolution of alternative review aggregators and emerging trends suggests that the discussion surrounding the role and impact of movie reviews will continue to evolve. Moving forward, the future of Metacritic and other review aggregators will likely be shaped by the changing media landscape and the ongoing conversation about the value and relevance of critical evaluation.

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