Movie and television show review website Rotten Tomatoes has removed pre-release comments and the ability for users to rate an upcoming title based on how badly they want to see it, in response to alleged “trolling” on the platform.
In an announcement, Monday, Rotten Tomatoes revealed it had changed its website in an effort to protect “data and public forums from bad actors.” The changes involve removing users’ ability to rate upcoming films based on how interested they are in seeing the movie.
“As of February 25, we will no longer show the ‘Want to See’ percentage score for a movie during its pre-release period. Why you might ask? We’ve found that the ‘Want to See’ percentage score is often times confused with the ‘Audience Score’ percentage number,” declared the website, adding, “The ‘Audience Score’ percentage, for those who haven’t been following, is the percentage of all users who have rated the movie or TV show positively – that is, given it a star rating of 3.5 or higher – and is only shown once the movie or TV show is released.”
“What else are we doing? We are disabling the comment function prior to a movie’s release date. Unfortunately, we have seen an uptick in non-constructive input, sometimes bordering on trolling, which we believe is a disservice to our general readership,” Rotten Tomatoes continued. “We have decided that turning off this feature for now is the best course of action.”
According to Hypebeast, the website changes are a response to “films such as Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Black Panther being targeted alongside Captain Marvel before their release.”
Captain Marvel, the latest Marvel cinematic universe blockbuster, was reportedly “review bombed” by critics on Rotten Tomatoes after the movie’s star Brie Larson called attacked her press interviewers for being “overwhelmingly white male.”
However, according to Variety, there’s also “likely another reason Rotten Tomatoes wants to discourage negative buzz for movies ahead of their release.”
“The site is part of NBCUniversal’s Fandango, which acquired the movie-ranking site in 2016 from Warner Bros. — and negative comments and lower ‘Want to See’ scores, whether those are from trolls or anyone else, may depress pre-release ticket sales,” Variety explained. “Warner Bros. retains a 25% stake in Rotten Tomatoes.”
In 2017, Netflix removed its five-star review system after comedian Amy Schumer’s The Leather Special received a swarm of negative reviews, which Schumer blamed on the “alt-right.”