Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes appears to have deleted over 50,000 reviews for Captain Marvel.
A screenshot taken this morning around 9:30 AM ET shows the film had over 58,000 user reviews with an Audience Score of 32%
A screenshot of the website taken at around 1:50 PM ET shows there are only just over 4,000 user reviews. The deletion of these 50,000 user reviews appears to have boosted Captain Marvel’s user score by a 4 points to 36%.
Jeremy Conrad of MCU Cosmic believed people were using bots to give Captain Marvel bad reviews.
— Jeremy Conrad (@ManaByte) March 8, 2019
His thoughts would be echoed by Forbes writer Scott Mendelsohn.
Fun fact: #CaptainMarvel already has 58,000 user reviews on @RottenTomatoes with a “shockingly low” score of 31% (average user rating – 2/5). For reference, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 3 (which has been out for nearly a month just in North America) has just 51k user reviews. pic.twitter.com/JlL3Hj8bxi
— Scott Mendelson (@ScottMendelson) March 8, 2019
There is something to this idea as a number of the reviews simply stated “I_am_Robbie_the_synthetic_comment.” However, the scores attached to reviews with that comment varied widely from five stars simply just a half star.
Rotten Tomatoes recently radically altered their website after a number of false and misleading reports from a number of entertainment websites that claimed people were “review bombing” Captain Marvel when in fact they were only marking whether or not they were interested in seeing the film. They were not actually reviewing the movie, and could not review the movie at the time because the film was not in theaters.
Rotten Tomatoes explained the decision in a blog post:
“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 also announced they were disabling commenting on movies before they release to theaters.
“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!).”
Following their announcement, the website was accused of shilling for the movie studios.
— VB_Joker (@vb_joker) February 27, 2019
yikes rotten tomatoes, way to shill out
— Justin Bliss (@juicetinbliss) February 26, 2019
However, there were also calls for Rotten Tomatoes to take down Audience Scores altogether. SyFy Wire’s Editor-in-Chief Adam Swiderski stated:
I think they should get rid of fans review entirely. It’s not a right. They run a website. They run a business. Critic reviews are critic reviews and that’s fine. And listen this isn’t me saying fans can’t have an opinion. But this is a tool. It’s obviously being abused more than it is being used constructively especially around particular films that politically rub some people the wrong way for certain reasons. It’s why we can’t have a nice thing. It would be nice if people used it the way it’s supposed to be used, but no one is. So screw it, goodbye.
His statement echoes Captain Marvel actor Samuel L. Jackson’s own thoughts on the matter:
“The mere fact that you give a voice or a platform to people who normally don’t have a platform is part of the problem. You can have an opinion that you don’t really have to be responsible for because nobody’s going to see you, nobody’s going to challenge you on it and if you want to bring somebody down or just ruin somebody’s day, you can say anything. Everybody doesn’t want to be uplifting and that’s pretty much what that problem is.”
What do you think about Rotten Tomatoes taking down these reviews? Do you think a lot of these were disingenuous reviews created by bots? Or do you think Rotten Tomatoes had more nefarious reasons for removing the reviews?