Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes Founder Positions New Site To Be “Google News For Movies”

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Rotten Tomatoes founder Senh Duong has redesigned his new site, Movies With Butter, to be the “Google News for movies.” Movies With Butter originally launched with more of a Digg/Reddit strategy, allowing users to vote which stories would be on the homepage, but Duong says it didn’t work because the site couldn’t gain enough users to vote on the stories.

He founded Rotten Tomatoes in 1998 and was quickly joined by a few of his friends, including Binh Ngo with whom he started Movies With Butter. Duong and company sold Rotten Tomatoes in 2004 to IGN Entertainment for an undisclosed amount (the property has since been sold several times, and is currently owned by Warner Brothers). The duo quietly launched Movies With Butter in 2011.

Duong says he and Ngo think they can build a better algorithm than Google News, which doesn’t have a film-specific section, based on their knowledge from Rotten Tomatoes. The site is all algorithm-based right now and updates every 15 minutes, moving stories up and down as they become more and less popular.

Duong points out that so many movie news sites have a lot of overlapping news stories, and hardcore fans and industry types could use an aggregator to more easily digest different news stories, the same way that many in the tech industry use Techmeme to filter through overlapping stories from the various tech blogs.

“Rotten Tomatoes is more aggregation of movie reviews. Movies With Butter is an extension of that–it’s an aggregation of movie news,” Duong tells me.

In addition to the news aggregator and staff blogs, the site has a film database that focuses on upcoming and very recent movies, a Tomato Meter that shows what fans are reviewing over on Rotten Tomatoes, and a Facebook Meter that tracks the Facebook likes that film’s Pages are getting from fans.

The pair have bootstrapped the site so far, and Duong says they aren’t looking to raise right now but may be open to funding in the future. He says the team is adding more stats, especially social media stats, so that fans can gauge what the buzz is on upcoming movies across a range of platforms.