After repeated "review bombing" of upcoming blockbusters, Rotten Tomatoes is making some changes to "more accurately and authentically represent the voice of fans, while protecting our data and public forums from bad actors."
In a statement released via their website Monday, the web's most popular review aggregator announced it will no longer display the "Want To See" score in its audience rating system. That score, which allowed users to say whether or not they were excited to see an upcoming film, has been abused recently as users have attempted to "review bomb" the Want To See score with large numbers of negative ratings to get it as low as possible for certain upcoming releases. Popular targets over the last month have included Marvel Studios' upcoming Captain Marvel and the still-untitled Star Wars: Episode IX.
"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 statement read.
So from now on, films that have not yet been released will not show any audience percentage scores of any kind until after its release, at which point fans will be able to log in and rate the film to determine an Audience Score alongside the "Tomatometer," which displays the percentage of positive reviews the film has been given by critics.
In addition to this change, the site announced it will also disable its comments sections for any film that has not yet been released, for very similar reasons.
"Unfortunately, we have seen an uptick in non-constructive input, sometimes bordering on trolling, which we believe is a disservice to our general readership," the statement read. "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."
This isn't the first time the site has had to reckon with rogue campaigns out to tank the perception of various films via its rating system. In 2017, a campaign using bots logging in under various usernames to lower the score of Star Wars: The Last Jedi was revealed, and in 2018 a Facebook group connected to that campaign against The Last Jedi was denounced by Rotten Tomatoes after revealing a concerted effort to review bomb Marvel's Black Panther.
In recent weeks, Captain Marvel in particular has been a heavy target, despite massive ticket presales, and efforts against Episode IX were picking up steam, so Rotten Tomatoes has finally taken concrete action to head off some of this behavior. Of course, this does not prevent any fan from leaving a negative review of any film once it has been released, so review bombing efforts may continue in some form via that avenue, but this does help films that haven't even been put in front of audiences yet to get more of a fair shake once they open.