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Rotten Tomatoes revamps user reviews after Captain Marvel troll campaign

Brie Larson as Captain Marvel
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Rotten Tomatoes, the popular film and television review aggregator, announced it will be changing the way that it handles user-generated reviews and rankings in an effort to combat toxicity on the site.

In the near future, Rotten Tomatoes users will not be able to rate or leave comments about movies that haven’t come out yet, the site said in a blog post. Rotten Tomatoes has also removed its “Want to See” score for pre-release films, claiming that many users confused the metric with a film’s “Audience Score” (i.e. the percentage of Rotten Tomatoes users who gave the movie in question a positive ranking). The Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score only appears once a movie is available to the general public.

The changes follow a targeted harassment campaign focused on Marvel and Disney’s Captain Marvel, which arrives in theaters on March 8. In the weeks leading up to Captain Marvel‘s debut, users flooded Captain Marvel‘s Rotten Tomatoes page with angry and sexist comments despite not having seen the movie, most likely in an attempt to influence Captain Marvel‘s box office performance

This practice, known as “review bombing,” didn’t begin with Captain Marvel, which will be the first Marvel Studios film with a female lead. Paul Feig’s all-woman Ghostbusters reboot, Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi, which stars Daisy Ridley as a powerful Jedi-in-training, and Black Panther, which had a mostly black cast, are all previous review-bombing victims.

Rotten Tomatoes didn’t cite Captain Marvel as the reason behind its user review changes, saying only that “We have seen an uptick in non-constructive input, sometimes bordering on trolling, which we believe is a disservice to our general readership.” Still, given the timing, it seems likely that the inflammatory Captain Marvel pre-release comments played a big part in the company’s decision.

Despite the trolls’ best efforts, Captain Marvel will probably be just fine. The film, which stars Academy Award-winner Brie Larson (Room, Kong: Skull Island) as the titular superhero, is on track for to make more than $100 million on its opening weekend, and already has more advance ticket sales than all but two of Marvel’s previous movies.

If audiences react to the character as positively as those reports indicate they will, they won’t have to wait long for a second helping of Carol Danvers — the good Captain is also set to play a large role in April’s big Marvel crossover flick, Avengers: Endgame.

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Chris Gates
Christopher Gates lives in Los Angeles, CA and writes about movies, TV, video games, and other pop culture curiosities. In…
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