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Dark Knight Rises: Film site closes comments after death threats to critics

RottenTomatoes.com users reacted with fury to critics who posted negative reviews of the film.

Catwoman escapes angry commenters in the new movie
Catwoman escapes angry commenters in the new movie
Image: Warner Bros

FILM REVIEW SITE RottenTomatoes.com has suspended user comments on movie reviews of The Dark Knight Rises after commenters reacted angrily to negative reviews – even threatening the critics who made them.

The comments included death threats to reviewers who rated the film poorly, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reports.

Matt Atchity, the site’s editor-in-chief, said it was the first time RottenTomatoes.com has suspended user comments, adding postings about Dark Knight reviews would likely be restored by the end of the week.

The final film in director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy opens tomorrow.

“The job of policing the comments became more than my staff could handle for that film, so we stopped the comments altogether,” said Atchity. “It just got to be too much hate based on reactions to reviews of movies that people hadn’t even seen.”

Atchity said the site is considering a move to a Facebook commenting system, which might cut down on the glut of anonymous posts. Other film review aggregating sites, such as MetaCritic.com and MovieReviewIntelligence.com, either don’t allow user comments or don’t permit comments to be posted before a film opens.

“There are a lot of options on the table,” said Atchity, who is worried about a similar backlash when director Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is released later this year. “We may do away with comments completely or get to a place where comments are only activated after a movie opens.”

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While The Dark Knight Rises is currently experiencing a glowing 84 percent “fresh” rating on RottenTomatoes.com, the film has been deemed “rotten” by a few critics, including Marshall Fine of Hollywood & Fine, Christy Lemire of The Associated Press and Nick Pinkerton of the Village Voice. Fine lambasted Dark Knight Rises for being “nonsensical,” and Lemire called it a “letdown”.

“As a movie writer and critic, Christy gives her opinion and we expect people will agree with some of her reviews and disagree with others,” said Lou Ferrara, the AP managing editor who oversees entertainment. “It’s unfortunate when the conversation turns ugly.”

- Additional reporting by Michael Freeman

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