How much free time do you have? Well, there’s a person out there on Facebook that has plenty of it, since he claims to have spent the weekend ruining the audience score for Star Wars: The Last Jedi on Rotten Tomatoes.
This isn’t that surprising, really. There’s a subset of the Star Wars fandom that has been against the new movies in the franchise, no matter what. They were mad when The Force Awakens was more or less a remake of A New Hope, then they were furious with The Last Jedi, which actually takes risks with the franchise.
The real question comes down to: what is the point of this? The audience score doesn’t mean much of anything. The movie still made $220 million this opening weekend, and that audience score didn’t do anything to stop it. There is more good will out there than bad when it comes to the movie, and the critics’ score remains high. That also puts weight behind those numbers, as if they mean anything at all. The only time a Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic score has meaning is if you give it one. They aren’t accurate, and this, if nothing else, shows that they can be manipulated. Not to mention, Rotten Tomatoes is a site that isn’t exactly well balanced when it comes to representation of critics who are women or people of color.
A high audience score hasn’t given a movie like Justice League the staying power it needed to make a ton of money, and the low audience score here is not going to hurt The Last Jedi. All this person did, if they are indeed behind it, was make that number seem less reliable, rendering it even more meaningless. That, in turn, ruins his entire plan. If that number doesn’t mean anything, then hacking it doesn’t mean anything, either.
Update Dec 17, 5:15 PST – On diving into a comparison between rate of reviews on other current releases and recent blockbusters, we noted a few abnormalities. For instance in The Shape of Water, there are a number of audience reviews where the review copy is for Last Jedi, not Shape of Water. This only lasted for a relatively brief time, but over a span of several users. It reads as if someone might have misconfigured a bot.
In addition, comparing the user review rate between Last Jedi and Thor, we noticed that Last Jedi already has far more than Thor does. While Thor had been slowing to only about a dozen reviews per day in recent weeks, as of Jedi’s opening, the number of Thor reviews have skyrocketed. Many of which are by the newly-created accounts which did a low score for Jedi, then immediately turning around and doing a Thor review.
Comparing that user behavior with other film release, something feels atypical to say the least. If it’s a coordinated campaign or a bot farm, however, remains to be seen. The possibility remains that there is simply an army of individuals all racing to do their very first reviews ever for Jedi, but the more we dig into this the more it feels manipulated.
We have reached out to Rotten Tomatoes for comment