A blockbuster is set to open with a lead who is not male and not white. People are excited about the film, but trolls hijack the conversation, sometimes targeting the movie's stars.
What should have been a good time instead becomes an internet maelstrom in which a movie and its actors must not only promote the work but simultaneously assert its right to exist.
One website took steps this week to interrupt that cycle.
On Monday, Rotten Tomatoes, an online-review aggregation service that allows the public to score the movies alongside critics, announced that it would no longer allow users to comment ahead of a movie's release. Rotten Tomatoes assured users that they would be able to post reviews after the movies had opened and that its signature audience score would appear after a film is released.
The site had been used by some individuals to try - or at least threaten - to "bomb" audience ratings for films such as "Black Panther" and "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," which both featured diverse casts and prominent female characters.
The decision comes ahead of the release of the biggest female-fronted blockbuster of the year: "Captain Marvel." In the film, which opens next week, actress Brie Larson plays a superhero endowed with mysterious powers by an alien race. Early reviews and reactions have been positive, and it is projected to make about $100 million in its opening weekend, Variety reports. But Larson has also been speaking up, loudly and consistently, about the lack of representation among film journalists, brimaking her a target for accusations that she is "racist" and "sexist" against white men.
"Unfortunately, we have seen an uptick in nonconstructive input, sometimes bordering on trolling, which we believe is a disservice to our general readership," Rotten Tomatoes said in a blog post. "We have decided that turning off this feature for now is the best course of action."
Rotten Tomatoes also made other changes to its audience ratings to "more accurately and authentically represent the voice of fans, while protecting our data and public forums from bad actors." It also altered and minimized a metric called "Want to See" ahead of a movie's release, in which people could rate how much they were interested in the movie.
The changes, which had been in development for a year, were not specifically tied to the release of "Captain Marvel," a spokeswoman for Rotten Tomatoes told The Washington Post. But she acknowledged that "the timing . . . was very appropriate."