Critics generally loved director Rian Johnson‘s first foray into the wider world of LucasFilm, but according to the Rotten Tomatoes audience score revealed on Friday, theatergoers were nowhere near as unified in their praise for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The initial number pegged the audience score at 56 percent, and as of this writing, it rests just one point lower. So what gives? A few pertinent criticisms of the movie have come to light while others have attributed the low rating to the disconnect between fan expectations and reality. And then there are spambots.
According to several reports detailing the activity on Rotten Tomatoes’ The Last Jedi page, it appears someone (or several someones) have utilized an army of bots to spam the film’s audience score with the lowest ratings possible. A Facebook group calling itself “Down With Disney’s Treatment of Franchises and its Fanboys” has even claimed credit for the disparity between the critics and audience scores, writing in a post, “it was me that caused this”:
“Thanks to friends of mine who taught me a thing or two about Bot Accounts, I used them to create this audience score through Facebook accounts created that subsequently logged into Rotten Tomatoes who rigged this score and still keep it dropping.”
Whether the Facebook group, or the individual behind the above post, is actually responsible for The Last Jedi‘s low Rotten Tomatoes rating cannot be confirmed. According to a survey of all audience-submitted reviews conducted by Polygon, however, several “suspicious similarities” pertaining to the film’s perceived politicized content may connect most of the lowest ratings. (Key phrases like “social justice warrior” or “SJW,” meant as a reference to the movie’s prominent inclusion of women and minority characters, occurred throughout these submissions.)
Plus, there’s the fact that preeminent pollster CinemaScore, which surveys audiences of films on opening night, gave The Last Jedi an “A.” So ¯_(ツ)_/¯
UPDATE (Dec 19, 2017): Fandango Media (the company that owns Rotten Tomatoes) has released a statement addressing the review trend The Last Jedi has experienced.
The authenticity of our critic and user scores is very important to Rotten Tomatoes and as a course of regular business, we have a team of security, network, social and database experts who closely monitor our platforms. They haven’t seen any unusual user activity.
For Star Wars: The Last Jedi, we have seen an uptick in people posting written user reviews, as fans are very passionate about this movie and the franchise. The number of written reviews being posted by fans is comparable to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.