I’m sure that this has happened to plenty of people. You’ve had your eye on a new movie, then before going to see it or buying/renting it, you went to the IMDb to check the score before doing so. Then after seeing a reasonably good score or even surprising one, you see the movie only to find it mediocre or even terrible.
This has happened to me. Often it can be put down to taste and personal opinion, where the movie is just a bit disappointing next to that IMDb score.
But sometimes though, I’ve looked at IMDb scores for certain movies that were just too divorced from what I witnessed, especially big tentpole movies that have giant logistical merchandise trains behind them. I had always smelled a rat but could never prove it. I suspected that vote rigging was happening. But likewise I knew that if certain distributors were playing dirty games, they’d be smart enough to cover their tracks.
Well this week I have found the proof I was looking for. Ironically, it comes via a DTV Vinnie Jones movie filmed in Lithuanina. ‘Redirected‘. It has an IMDb rating of 7.6, it started off with a 9.5. Of the 17,000 people who voted on the movie, an incredible 9,800 loved it so damned much that they gave it a 10/10. And please, take my word for it, in the most civil term possible, this is not a good movie.
That’s a whopping 56% of all voters giving the movie a giant thumbs up, most of them before the movie was even released. By comparison, The Godfather, one of the top five ranked movies on the IMDb, had 54% of its voters rate it a 10. So there you have it folks, one of the most horrid films of the past 12 months has been blowing the socks off viewers better than The Godfather ever did!
This, to me, is clear evidence of vote rigging. But let’s not stop there.
Kinokultas, the company behind Redirected, also released a movie in 2010 called ‘Zero 2‘, currently rated 7.9 on the IMDb with a fantastic 49% of its 4,000 voters going ahead and rating it 10. Coincidentally, this is the only other movie by that production company listed on the IMDb.
So how do they do it? They simply create many (many) accounts and go to work shilling the movie. Anyone can vote on the IMDb, so long as they have an email address. You’d think that this would be hard work, but the results could pay off. Redirected, for example, took an alleged ‘box office’ of $2,000,000+, probably more than its budget. The important thing is to raise the rating during the release window. It may even be possible to create the accounts to make such an influence using a script, many of them could be bots. Reputably, P.R. companies can even be hired to influence the online reputation of a movie.
Of course IMDb has methods in place to stop such abuse but they are limited. As far as I’m aware a vote will only register from ‘organic’ accounts, that is to say, voters who vote on a wide variety of movies. But that’s not hard to get around. Need more proof? Let’s take a look at a movie called The Dark Knight. It made its way into the top 10 of all IMDb movies, but not without severe manipulation.
Don’t take my word for it. Read this article on news.com.au, which details a campaign to oust The Godfather by voting it en masse with 1/10 scores, and replacing it with The Dark Knight by voting en masse with 10/10 scores respectively.
We have seen, with some consistency, that the system can be broken or manipulated. Most serious movie watchers would argue that claiming that The Dark Knight is the best movie of all time is ridiculous.
We’re supposed to believe that this campaign was conducted by a few dedicated fanboys. But really, was it? Is it so outrageous to think that the big boys do this kind of thing too? If a bush league production company from Lithuania can rig the system for their bargain-basement movies, couldn’t Warners do the same? This leads me to another site people go to, to see whether or not movies are worth checking out. Rotten Tomatoes.
One astute blogger notes that glowing reviews for big movies are, statistically, 25% more likely to appear on Rotten Tomatoes early, than reviews telling it like it is. Are Early Movie Reviews Rigged? They probably are. I know one thing, among other things Rotten Tomatoes’ criteria for accepting reviews is that the site must have x-amount of traffic, have more than a few dozen reviews and have an established URL (as opposed to a freebie WordPress URL). They won’t take reviews from this site though, despite ManlyMovie garnering as much as fifty times the traffic of some of Rotten Tomatoes’ reviewers, many of whom have perfected the art of turd polishing. In other words, obscure blogs can get in the door, so long as they say the right thing, doubly so if they say it during or before the vital opening weekend.
So the bottom line is, sites like the IMDb, whose results tip the front page of Google everytime, almost certainly have mendacious alterations in order to fool customers. Because that’s what it’s all about, that bottom dollar. And Rotten Tomatoes, owned by Warner Brothers, is probably not far behind.
I hope to follow this up in time, with a similar article on phantom YouTube likes, Twitter trending and other misdirection. Exercise discretion…