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Rotten Tomatoes Bans User Reviews and Comments Before a Film’s Theatrical Release

Rotten Tomatoes is taking a major step in the fight against internet trolls. The company has announced a new initiative to “modernize its audience rating system through a series of product enhancements,” the first of which includes banning user reviews and comments prior to a movie’s theatrical release. Getting rid of pre-release user reviews means internet trolls will not be able to flood film pages with negative scores before a movie comes out. Earlier this month, “Captain Marvel” was the target of negative pre-release user reviews.

Rotten Tomatoes is not banning user reviews entirely, as that functionality will be available once the movie releases into theaters. However, getting rid of user comments before a film’s release will help maintain healthy narratives as inclusive blockbusters like “Captain Marvel” gear up for release. Negative user reviews have already created a narrative around “Captain Marvel” in which sexist backlash must be overcome. Eliminating pre-release user reviews reduces the volume of pre-release backlash from fans.

In the case of “Captain Marvel,” the negative pre-release fan reviews were entirely unfounded as the movie has not yet screened outside of select press screenings in New York and Los Angeles. Critics who have seen the movie have mostly raved about it, as seen in the film’s strong first reactions.

“Over the past few years, Rotten Tomatoes has been evolving into a robust movie and TV show recommendations platform that celebrates the views of professional critics and fans alike, and encourages discussion and debate,” Rotten Tomatoes executive Ara Nalbandian said in a statement. “We continue to invest in our product to deliver useful and relevant resources for fans and are in development on new tools to help fans express their opinions and connect with others.”

Additional changes taking effect immediately include a streamlined user interface that positions the Audience Score adjacent to the Tomatometer Score. Rotten Tomatoes says this change will give users easy access to compare and contrast critics’ and fans’ view of movies and TV shows without confusion. Additionally, the fan “want to see” score is switching from a percentage to a raw number that will be tallied in real time.

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