Days after media outlets reported that “trolls” were “review bombing” Captain Marvel’s Rotten Tomatoes page (which turned out to be fake news, by the way), potential movie goers began aggressively saying they weren’t interested in seeing the upcoming Marvel film Captain Marvel. This led to the audience anticipation rating plummeting all the way down to 30% according to some accounts. Well, Rotten Tomatoes seemingly decided to step in and fix the situation by removing the pre-release audience ratings, and the pre-release comments for all movies, site-wide.
On February 25th, 2019, Rotten Tomatoes made a post titled “Hello, We’re Making Some Changes”. It came right after news began to spread about the audience anticipation rating for Captain Marvel had dropped ino percentages hovering around the low 30s, high 20s.The last Google web cache of the entry on Rotten Tomatoes puts it at 32%, as of February 25th, 2019 03:25:24.
Before the numbers could shift any further, Rotten Tomatoes removed the negative audience ratings, explaining…
“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. (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.)”
This is true.
If you go to the Captain Marvel page, for instance, you’ll see that you can no longer click on the “Not Interested” button. Now you can only click on “Want To See It”. Rotten Tomatoes completely removed the “Not Interested” option for all upcoming movies.
Now you can only see how many thousands of people are interested in the film, as opposed to how many thousands of people in total voiced their opinion (positive or negative).
What this means is that for films that aren’t trending well, you won’t be able to see that in the metrics on Rotten Tomatoes any longer, and it’ll give off the impression that people are only interested in the film.
You might also notice that with the new update the option to leave a comment is no longer present either. Rotten Tomatoes addresses this point, too, writing…
“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. We have decided that turning off this feature for now is the best course of action. Don’t worry though, fans will still get to have their say: Once a movie is released, audiences can leave a user rating and comments as they always have.”
Now this isn’t to say that this was a direct response to the Captain Marvel controversy, where a lot of users voiced negative opinions about the film – many of which spawned from Brie Larson’s incendiary comments denigrating white males – but such a major change happening right during the middle of a culture war storm brewing over Captain Marvel definitely looks suspicious.
It’s completely possible that this was always in the works and they just decided to pull the trigger now. There’s also the conspiracy that perhaps Rotten Tomatoes is trying to save face for Disney’s big budget blockbuster, which is due out on March 8th, and they wanted to reduce the negative feedback from fans being projected outward to the rest of the world by minimizing the appearance of all the negative comments and ratings circulating the film.
Of course, even Left-leaning outlets like ComicBook.com believe that the snap decision was made in lieu of the Captain Marvel fiasco.
Attempting to suppress fan feedback like that doesn’t usually work out too well, and it’s oftentimes one of the contributing factors to the Streisand Effect.
Regardless of the reasons for the removal of the negative rating system, visitors of Rotten Tomatoes were not happy with the change.
(Thanks for the news tip dk max)