‘Dark Knight Rises’ pans inspire death threats, site shuts down comments

Meriah Doty
Movie Talk
July 18, 2012

When it came to posting first reviews of "The Dark Knight Rises" on the aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, editor-in-chief Matt Atchity says he and his staff were prepared for the worst: "...I knew full well that when the first negative review came in, the reviewer would get pasted in the comments," he wrote in a statement.

Atchity and his staff decided to temporarily disable comments on Rotten Tomatoes' "TDKR" page after death threats -- directed at a reviewer who panned the much anticipated film -- were made.

The threats were initially directed at the first negative review that was posted on the page -- written by Marshall Fine -- who we noted as a dissenting voice earlier this week in our reviews roundup.

[Photos: 'The Dark Knight Rises' New York premiere]

Some comments used lines in the movie to take joking jabs at Fine [via Indiewire]: "...quoting Bane's line to Batman that Fine's punishment 'must be more severe' and that they didn't give him 'permission to die' yet. Others were more direct in their hatred. One comment, since removed, kindly requested Fine 'die in a fire.'"

"As expected, we saw a mountain of comments come in about [Fine's] review, and we're policing them to make sure they're in line with our TOS [terms of service]. Broadly speaking, threats and hate speech will get your commenting privileges revoked," Atchity wrote, adding that the site is exploring alternative avenues for commentary. "We're probably going to move to a Facebook-based commenting system that doesn't allow for anonymity. You'll have to stand by your comments, just like a critic does."

Other negative reviews of the film, while in the minority, have been written by Christy Lemire of the Associated Press who said the film "feels overloaded," and Nick Pinkerton of the Village Voice who wrote that "TDKR" is "a shallow repository of ideas."

Some have speculated that negative reviewers are simply seeking attention. But Atchity told Yahoo! Movies, "It's extremely rare that we have any proof of someone writing a dishonest review just to get attention.  If and when we see that, we address it with the reviewer."

"TDKR" has so far received overwhelmingly positive response from critics. Rotten Tomatoes currently rates "TDKR" at 86 percent on their "Tomatometer" -- which has aggregated reviewer response to the film. While impressive, the rating is not quite as high as the one "Marvel's The Avengers" ultimately settled on -- 92 percent positive response.

But reviews are still being filed, so there is still time for the score to -- like Batman -- rise.

Watch 'The Dark Knight Rises' Insider Access: Goodbye to Batman

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