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The Curious Case Of IMDB's Missing BATMAN V SUPERMAN Critics Reviews

Have IMDB banned critics reviews of Warner Bros. blockbuster?

Words by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)


If you're a returning reader, there's a chance you may have initially stumbled across TMW through a review link in IMDB's Critics' Reviews section. Every time we post a review, we submit the relevant link to IMDB. It can take anywhere between 20 minutes and a week for the link to appear; the staff at IMDB are pretty busy running one of the web's most prominent institutions after all. The link will always be up by the release date of the relevant movie, which is when most people start perusing reviews, so it's no big issue.

On Tuesday evening, after our Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice review was posted, we sent IMDB the link as usual. At that time, no other reviews had yet been posted on the film's IMDB page, but as a global embargo had just been lifted, there was nothing odd about that. However, within a few minutes of that embargo ending, Rotten Tomatoes began adding critics' reviews to their BvS page.

The next morning, I checked IMDB, and to my surprise they had yet to add any critics' reviews. I have noticed a trend whereby IMDB holds back reviews of movies with negative buzz until just before release, so I figured this was the case. But something very different, and very suspicious, is going on here. At time of writing, it's Saturday evening, 48 hours after the first public screenings of BvS, and there are STILL no critics' reviews on its page. This is unheard of. To my knowledge, this has never happened before.

While critics' reviews are still suspiciously absent, a quick glance tells me there are currently no less than 1,135 user reviews on the IMDB BvS page. When it comes to superhero movies, user reviews are generally overwhelmingly positive (some are even written before seeing the film), and BvS is no different - 'Best superhero movie of all time' is a common theme. Conversely, the majority of critics have been highly negative in their reviews of Zack Snyder's film; at time of writing it boasts a 30% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

The aforementioned embargo was another odd situation. Warner Bros. held so-called 'Fan Screenings' (how can you be a fan of a movie you haven't seen?) last Monday evening, after which twitter was flooded with wildly enthusiastic raves from those present. Critics meanwhile were forbidden to mention the movie on any social networks until after the London premiere on Tuesday evening. This meant that for a full day, anyone clicking the BatmanvSuperman hashtag would think it were 'the best superhero movie ever'. Now, annoying as this, I don't have any real problem with it. Warner Bros. are perfectly within their rights to manage their marketing in this way. I do have a big issue with the IMDB scenario however. Why should BvS get special protection that isn't available to any other movies on the database? Released alongside BvS was the long gestating sequel My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, a movie that received an even rougher time from critics. Visit its IMDB page and you have free access to (at time of writing) 89 critics' reviews.

On his weekly radio show, UK critic Mark Kermode expressed annoyance at having pop-up ads for BvS appear every time he opened IMDB. I haven't seen any of these ads myself, but maybe it's a location thing? I'm in Ireland, but I don't recall ever seeing pop-up ads on IMDB if I'm honest. But if users in larger countries are being targeted in this manner, it does add a further worrying dimension to the lack of critics reviews.

I asked IMDB for an answer to all this and unsurprisingly haven't received one. If you care about film criticism and/or ethics, please tweet @imdb and ask them what the hell is going on?


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