A PR Firm Has Been Paying Critics For Rotten Tomatoes Reviews

Logo Credit: Rotten Tomatoes

A story from Vulture has revealed that a PR firm has been providing financial incentives for critics to write and publish reviews. Said paid reviews would help boost a film’s rating on the aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.

It is alleged that Bunker 15 started a campaign in October 2018 to inflate the score of the Daisy Ridley film Opehila. Very few critical reviews had been published at the time, and the score was below 50%.

According to unnamed critics in the Vulture piece, Bunker 15 was paying $50 a review. However, if a critic’s article was negative and could harm the financial viability of a movie, those reviews would be housed outside of Rotten Tomatoes’ jurisdiction by way of publishing them on lesser-known blogs.

Score manipulation is something we’ve heard often, but it usually refers to something called “review bombing,” which is the opposite of what Bunker 15 has been doing. Supposedly, Rotten Tomatoes is against writers “reviewing based on a financial incentive.” However, we’ll see what is done about this recent revelation.

Vulture’s Lane Brown did say she contacted the review aggregator about the PR Firm’s sneaky tricks. Rotten Tomatoes did two things in response. It removed films that Bunker 15 represented and issued the following statement to writers:

“We take the integrity of our scores seriously and do not tolerate any attempts to manipulate them. We have a dedicated team who monitors our platforms regularly and thoroughly investigates and resolves any suspicious activity.”

According to the company’s website, Bunker 15 uses a “smart-tech Publicity Engine,” which “helps find the right journalists to promote your film (VOD or Theatrical). Even VOD releases can earn Press. Every film deserves to find its audience. Whether you have a small film with a limited theatrical release or you have a Straight-to-VOD feature, they can reach out to the journalists that are interested in your story.

Some of the films that fall under the firm’s umbrella are:

  • Burt Reynolds: The Last Interview
  • Wildflower
  • Cold November
  • Tulsa
  • Busman’s Holiday
  • Gasoline Alley

Haven’t you heard of them? It’s unsurprising. They’re not blockbusters but small-budget titles that the mainstream crowds could easily overlook. Regardless, getting caught manipulating review scores will not help the struggling filmmakers at all.

[Source: Vulture]

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Mike Phalin

Longtime problematic entertainment journalist. The former workhorse for Dread Central, ScienceFiction.com, and Fanbolt.

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