If you are involved with film, or fandom, then one of the most divisive and frequently-discussed topics in your day to day existence might be Rotten Tomatoes. The review aggregator has a notoriously flawed system, which can sometimes seem random and often leaves itself wide open to attacks by trolls and bots. Those kinds of things have led to numerous recent controversies, as films that divided the audience or those with perceived political and cultural messages were review-bombed upon -- or even before -- release. Whether it's Star Wars or Captain Marvel, the last year or so there seemed to be a whole lot of discussion about how to "fix" Rotten Tomatoes.
Enter Qurator. Co-founded by Hamilton performer Brandon Victor Dixon and filmmaker Thomas Eromose Ikimi, the new app bills itself as a review aggregator that will be more accurate and less prone to manipulation, because it tests a user's knowledge of the film before allowing a review to post, and gives more credence to reviews where the reviewer scored very high on the test.
"Bfore I even got into the movie business, I was a, for a better word, if you want to say fanboy or whatever term you want to use. I even had my own fan channel for reviewing movies in the mid-2000s on YouTube," Ikimi told ComicBook.com. "So, I was always in that space before I even got into making film. So I think once it started, and I think it was around 2015 when [Star Wars:] The Force Awakens came out, and we had that massive fight within the fan base, where there were people who hated it, then people who liked it and then there were the critics side who loved it and they got 90 whatever percent. I started seeing that it was very difficult to trust sort of the reviews that you are seeing in general. [The controversy] had magnified the problem exponentially. You see rating of seven, or nine, or ten, or two out of ten, or you don't know that maybe 70 percent of what's in those ratings are nonsense."
How to fight that "nonsense?" Ikimi explained that the best answer he could come up with was to make it too much of a pain for bad-faith actors to engage in the app.
"I just wanted to create a way of validating and raising the threshold for trolling, because I do not believe you can kill trolls, because I've sort of been with trolls," Ikimi said. "I've trolled myself. I sort of know how it works, and if you're dealing with a determined troll, you can't stop them. So the best thing you can do is to create a threshold high enough that 90 percent of the people won't be bothered to go through the process, and you're left with a very small level, like 10 percent of people, who still get through your barriers and troll the movie. So I talked to Brandon and I said, 'I have this idea that why don't we make this platform where people have to go through path... play a game in order to review a movie,' and he was like, 'Oh wow, that's really simple but a really good idea. Let's do it.'"
The quizzes are somewhat progressive, too; if a user cannot pass the test with 51% or better on their first try, the threshold for a passing grade raises to 75%. After two failed attempts, a user cannot retake the test on the same movie until they have successfully been verified on five other movies. The movie's review average is weighted with higher-scoring users getting more weight relative to lower-scoring reviewers.
The site also serves as a kind of small-scale social network, in which fans can create a "movie club" of followers and people they want in their timeline, so that they can have easy access to reviewers whose writing on the site they have found valuable.
The extra barriers, Ikimi says, have not artificially inflated the scores on most movies, since both big fans and hardcore detractors of movies will go the extra mile to make sure their review is counted.0comments
"We've had both kinds of people come... People who are compelled to come because they hate it that much and people who are compelled because they love the movie," Ikimi said. "I think what's getting people to do it more is the novelty of playing a game to review. That's engaging people a lot, because they'd never been able to do that before. They'd never have to do that before....It's creating a compulsion of people who, even if they hated the film, they actually enjoy playing even if it's for a movie that they don't like because the act of playing is what they're enjoying, if that makes sense."
You can get Qurator on the iOS and Android marketplaces, or visit them on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.