Was LAST JEDI’s Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score Manipulated?

This past weekend, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, packed theaters and in the process set a box office record for the year with an opening weekend total of some $220 million in ticket sales. And while the film is certainly enjoying high critical marks, it seems that some fans are not embracing the new directions in which writer/director Rian Johnson pushed the franchise.

But exactly how big is that contingent of naysayers? If you looked at critical aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the audience score for Last Jedi is down in the low 50s. However, there is reason to doubt the veracity of the score, thanks to this boast from a Facebook group titled “Down With Disney’s Treatment of Franchises and its Fanboys”

Guess who's back? And yes it was me that caused this. While that vile troll page No More Legends had me banned, they set…

Posted by Down With Disney's Treatment of Franchises and its Fanboys on Sunday, December 17, 2017

First off, I am going to set aside criticism of the massive amount of fan entitlement here and the incredibly juvenile way in which it is being expressed. Going by the post, it seems like this person is one of very small and out-of-proportionally vocal Star Wars fans who are upset that when Disney bought Lucasfilm and announced plans to start making new Star Wars films they also announced that the Expanded Universe of novels, comics and video game stories was no longer canon. Never mind that such material always existed at the whim of Lucasfilm and could be wiped away at any time, some fans have taken it as a personal affront. And so we are left with this.

So what is he trying to prove here? If he hoped to keep people from going to see The Last Jedi, he kind of undercuts himself by revealing that the score is a fraud he created.

The bigger issue though, is the problem of audience reaction figures like those from Rotten Tomatoes being thrown around without any idea as to how those metrics are arrived at. In the case of Rotten Tomatoes or the IMDb’s reader scores there is no control to make sure that someone responding has actually seen the film in question. Anyone can just log onto their account after a film has been released and add their opinion into the aggregator. (Or, if this poster is to be believed, create a bot that creates multiple Facebook accounts which are then used to cast multiple ratings on Rotten Tomatoes.) Actually having seen the film doesn’t play into the process at all. CinemaScore, on the other hand, does their polling at actual theaters on the night of a film’s release. This insures that at least the responses are coming from people who have actually just sat through the film. CinemaScore gave The Last Jedi an “A.”

This is pretty much the reason why we here at FilmBuffOnline try to avoid using statistics like those generated by the Rotten Tomatoes User Review Score process simply because their methodology is not very sound. Hopefully, this will encourage other outlets to examine the sources for some of the metrics they use and really think about whether using such “information” in their reportage is truly in the interest of their readers.

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About Rich Drees 6662 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty years experience writing about film and pop culture.
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Michael Klein
December 18, 2017 7:07 pm

The fanboys are irritating at this point