Rotten Tomatoes has always been a contentious corner of the internet.
The review aggregate site announced this week that it will remove the “want to see” function of their site, which lets audiences rate their interest in a film pre-release, distinct from the audience rating of the film that’s meant to reflect public response after having seen it. The decision to ditch the “want to see” function likely comes after Captain Marvel‘s score dropped to 50% following a series of comments Larson made about including diverse journalists in the film’s press tour. That’s the lowest for any Marvel film to date, which looks especially troubling considering this is the first female-driven film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
It’s also evident of an upsetting trend in the audience section of the site. Two other recent movies that saw their audience scores hijacked were Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Black Panther. The former boasts a female lead and racially diverse cast, and the latter is the first predominantly black cast for a Marvel film. While we’re willing to believe that plenty of those audience voters probably had legitimate storytelling reasons for giving a low score, as Rotten Tomatoes noted in their announcement, the audience section has also “seen an uptick in non-constructive input, sometimes bordering on trolling, which we believe is a disservice to our general readership.” In the same announcement, the site noted it will also turn off comments for a film until after its release, so as not to poison the waters with unwarranted, politically-motivated hate ahead of release.
It remains to be seen just how effective this plan will be. It’s possible the decision will anger the trolls even more, leading to more aggressive smear campaigns once the film opens and they can leave scores and comments. Or maybe it will generally curtail the haters, and inspire more genuine reviews of the film itself, instead of the gender or race of the cast.
One thing we do know for sure is that so far, the Rotten Tomatoes audience scores haven’t harmed the targeted films. Star Wars: The Last Jedi made $1.33 billion, was the highest-grossing film of 2017, and the eleventh highest-grossing film of all time. Black Panther made $1.34 billion, is the highest-grossing solo superhero film of all time, and was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Captain Marvel looks likely to join their ranks; despite a 50% “want to see” Rotten Tomatoes score, the movie is on track to earn $150 million opening weekend, and trails only Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther in advance tickets sales.
If the audience score hijackers are trying to make a point, it hasn’t worked.
Images: Disney, Marvel