REPORT: Critics Say PR Firm Paid Them To Boost Movies’ Rotten Tomatoes Scores

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Matthew Brooks Contributor
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A public relations firm has been accused of paying reviewers in order to get better Rotten Tomatoes scores for films, according to Vulture.

Public relations firm Bunker 15 has come under fire following recent accusations that the company paid reviewers to reach a certain score on the review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, Vulture reported.

“Ophelia,” a film that was screened in 2018, initially had only 13 published reviews, with seven of those reviews being negative, leaving the film with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 46 percent, Vulture reported. Rotten Tomatoes uses a system in which films that receive a score of below 60 percent are deemed “rotten.” Several critics of Bunker 15 have alleged that the company began offering reviewers money in order to receive additional reviews.

In October 2018, a Bunker 15 employee allegedly reached out to one potential reviewer, writing, “It’s a Sundance film and the feeling is that it’s been treated a bit harshly by some critics (I’m sure sky-high expectations were the culprit) so the teams involved feel like it would benefit from more input from different critics,” Vulture reported. (RELATED: Rotten Tomatoes To Counter Effort To Tank ‘Black Panther’ Score)

From October 2018 to January 2019, Rotten Tomatoes added eight reviews to its website, with seven of them being positive. This boost allowed “Ophelia” to hit 62 percent and receive a “fresh” rating. The reviewer who gave the film a negative review was also allegedly pressured to change it, the outlet reported.

Daniel Harlow, Bunker 15’s founder, rejected the allegation that his company paid for reviews.

“We have thousands of writers in our distribution list. A small handful have set up a specific system where filmmakers can sponsor or pay to have them review a film,” he noted, the outlet reported.