Rotten Tomatoes is fighting back against online trolls. The reviews aggregator site announced that it will prevent users from commenting on a film before its release date, after a recent barrage of negative online comments targeting the forthcoming Captain Marvel film.
Rotten Tomatoes’ move came as it cited an “uptick in non-constructive input, sometimes bordering on trolling”. Captain Marvel, the widely anticipated 21st instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe which stars Brie Larson in the title role, is released in US and UK cinemas on 8 March, but has nonetheless been subject to a flurry of negative reviews posted to the film’s Rotten Tomatoes page over the last few weeks, resulting in its “audience score” plummeting from 96% to 54%.
It appears the backlash has been fuelled by Larson’s recent comments about the movie’s press tour, in which she expressed growing concerns about the “overwhelmingly white male” proportion of film journalists she has spoken to over the last few years. In an interview with Marie Claire earlier this year, the actor, who won an Oscar in 2016 for her performance in Room, spoke about utilising her role as the eponymous superhero to campaign for increased diversity in the movie industry.
Rotten Tomatoes’ influence on movies’ box-office performance has been widely acknowledged in the industry, with Ethan Titelman, an executive at Hollywood market research firm National Research Group, telling the Guardian: “Its influence is growing and broadening out. Once it would have been for your tech-savvy early adopters, but it has actually doubled its influence over moviegoers aged over 45 in the last couple of years alone.”
This isn’t the first time a film’s Rotten Tomatoes page has been the target of online hostility. Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Paul Feig’s all-female Ghostbusters reboot and Marvel superhero movie Black Panther were all recipients of angry trolling prior to their release in cinemas.