Following a number of news stories that blatantly lied to their audience about individuals “review bombing” Disney’s upcoming Captain Marvel film, Rotten Tomatoes rolled out a new redesign for their website which removed the audience interest score for films that had not been released to theaters yet.
In a blog post on their website, Rotten Tomatoes explained their reason for redesigning the website:
“Over the past 18 months, we’ve made a number of updates at Rotten Tomatoes, all in an effort to streamline the site and provide users with a more enriched experience. These updates include the launch of a new visual identity (you don’t hate the red anymore, right?); the creation of new original editorial, video, and social content (check us out on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram); and a revamped Tomatometer critics criteria that better reflects the current media landscape, increases inclusion, and more fully serves the global entertainment audience.”
They would continue:
“Starting this week, Rotten Tomatoes will launch the first of several phases of updates that will refresh and modernize our Audience Rating System. We’re doing it to more accurately and authentically represent the voice of fans, while protecting our data and public forums from bad actors.
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.)”
They then show a screenshot from Jaws of what you will now see on each movie’s page.
They then announced they will also remove their comment function on movies before release.
“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.
Last but not least, you will notice we are making some layout changes to the site. Through our research department we have learned that our users would prefer a cleaner, less cluttered, presentation of the Tomatometer and Audience Score. Don’t worry, the information and data are still there (promise!).”
While Rotten Tomatoes implies these redesigns have been in the works over the past 18 months, the website faced intense pressure from a number of outlets including The Hollywood Reporter, ComicBook.com, ComicBookMovie.com, The Verge, Inverse, SyFy Wire, Cracked, The Mary Sue, ScreenRant, Comic Book Resourse, The Mirror, and more who claimed Disney’s Captain Marvel film was being review bombed by “trolls” with many of the websites describing these trolls as “sexist.” As Rotten Tomatoes notes in their press release these websites were confusing the ‘Want to See’ percentage score with the ‘Audience Score’ percentage number. And it’s more likely they were doing so deliberately as many of them referred to the Want to See score as a review even when screenshots they provided in their articles showed users only indicating whether or not they were interested in seeing the film.
Following their announcement, the policy was heavily criticized.
As Rotten Tomatoes, Netflix and other platforms remove downvotes (and comments) they ARE silencing ‘trolls’. But they’re also silencing customers.
Market research costs MILLIONS, and the internet generates it for free. Deleting everything to purge a few opinions seems excessive. pic.twitter.com/sxxkGY7Mcx
— 𝙱𝚕𝚊𝚔𝚎 𝙽𝚘𝚛𝚝𝚑𝚌𝚘𝚝𝚝 📔✨ (@BlakeNorthcott) February 26, 2019
It’s stupid & it’s cutting off their own nose to spite their face. Sorry they don’t like the answers but they are now reaching the point where they’ve forgotten 1 simple truth:
“Reality does not always afford you a truth to your liking”
So they’re trying to deny it & silence it
— The Doktor (@ScienceJesus) February 26, 2019
Not to draw too fine a point but:
THE SITE LITERALLY TAKES ITS NAME FROM THE VAUDEVILLE AUDIENCE PRACTICE OF THROWING ROTTEN TOMATOES AT BAD PERFORMANCES!
It’s moniker is born from the idea of “down voting” in what could be considered a very trollish manner. pic.twitter.com/RhdkC6R9gq
— ❌Darth Vegan❌ (@OneLastEcho) February 27, 2019
Tomatoes became an aggregate for agendas, not movies. Next they’ll hide or take away the Audience Score which is more often skewed against the “pros” especially if a film is being held up for some social stance, not on its quality.
— ЩILDCΛЯD (@WildcardJosh) February 26, 2019
ROTTEN TOMATOES protects CAPTAIN MARVEL for DISNEY and then LIES ABOUT IT!https://t.co/xI9MXAHLVQ
— Ethan Van Sciver (@EthanVanSciver) February 27, 2019
When you actually break it down it’s so stupid. The politics don’t matter. Lots of people are no longer interested in seeing a movie for whatever reason, RT thinks it’s wrong to not want to see this movie so they take away that option.
— Josh Cowart (@JoshCo82) February 27, 2019
What do you make of Rotten Tomatoes new policy? Do you agree with their decision to remove the audience interest score and remove comments from films that have not yet been released?