tv & movies

Rotten Tomatoes Revamps Site After Excessive 'Captain Marvel' Trolling

The review aggregation site has removed the “Want to See” percentage score as the latest Marvel film’s score plummeted to below 30 percent in less than a week.

We’ve seen it with "Black Panther" and "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" and it was happening again with "Captain Marvel," so finally Rotten Tomatoes is doing something about it.

In an editorial posted to their site, the team behind the popular film review aggregation site said they have implemented the first of several phases of updates that will update their Audience Rating System. It is this system that has seen seemingly orchestrated attacks based on sexism and racism against recent popular films.

"Captain Marvel" was the last film that appeared to be falling victim to this trend, as its audience anticipation percentage began to drop precipitously following star Brie Larson’s comments that she would make an attempt to see out female, disabled and persons of color to interview at press junkets in an effort to achieve better representation.

Immediately, "fans" started trashing the film because Brie Larson said that it’s not for white males, or she hates men or she doesn’t want them to see it anyway. None of this was about the film itself, which is supposed to be the whole point of the site, and was more akin to the kind of comments you find at the bottom of news articles and blog posts.

People have the right to their opinion and to say what they want, but Rotten Tomatoes is in the business of rating the quality of the films themselves, and not fans concerned about other things. And so, in an attempt to try and curb this type of behavior, they are disabling the "Want to See" percentage score before a film is released.

This anticipation meter has become less accurate as a barometer of the perceived quality of an upcoming film in the era of RT trolling. "Captain Marvel" saw its audience anticipation percentage drop to 63 percent when we reported on it February 20, with CBR reporting it was down to 28 percent just five days later.

Clearly, it’s a badly-needed change for a site that has received increased scrutiny in recent years as the media and fans alike have placed increasing import and value on their fan and critic percentage ratings to determine a movie’s quality and whether or not it’s worth dropping our hard-earned dollars to see.

But they’re not stopping there. Perhaps realizing their potential influence in the weeks leading up to a film’s release, Rotten Tomatoes said, "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."

They’re not disabling audience participation entirely, though. "Once a movie is released, audiences can leave a user rating and comments as they always have."

This won’t stop determined trolls from attempting to downgrade a film once its released, but it is at least a step in the right direction. Most of the comments in the "Want to See" section of the site were genuinely helpful, with people engaging in discussions about costuming, interviews and trailers, but it only takes a few bad apples — or rotten tomatoes — to ruin it for everybody.

At the time of this writing, the film still has 20 pages of audience reviews active, despite not being out yet. But all of the more incendiary comments we detailed here appear to have been scrubbed. Does this mean RT is taking a more active role in policing their comments section as well?

Move fans will sure be keeping an eye on the site in the coming week and months to see what other steps they make to improve their data and maintain the site’s integrity as a source for accurate feedback on the movies themselves.

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