Little Mermaid's Review-Bombing Leads to IMDb's Rating System Shake-Up

Little Mermaid's Review-Bombing Leads to IMDb's Rating System Shake-Up
Image credit: Legion-Media

IMDb, along with other movie rating systems, may be forced to review their rating systems in the near future.

Disney's live-action adaptations have long been the source of backlash from fans, with people criticizing the media giant's lack of original ideas and their poor execution.

The recently released The Little Mermaid, however, seems to be scoring nice reviews from critics, but the new movie's numerical rating on IMDb and other Internet sites doesn't exactly reflect this positive reception — in fact, it looks like the Halle Bailey-starrer is experiencing a major attack from its audience.

This situation is not unique, as there have been many other cases of films, TV shows, and video games given low scores from Internet users due to fanbait discourse. However, this recent attack on The Little Mermaid seems to have finally prompted IMDb to reconsider its scoring system, and other film-rating services may follow.

The Little Mermaid came out only a few days ago, on May 26, but it already has a total of tens of thousands of lowest scores from anonymous users on various services. Obviously, these ratings are not objective and were probably generated by bots. Here is our reasoning, just to clarify the issue.

IMDb's overall rating for The Little Mermaid is 7.0 out of 10. But if we look at the overall scores for the US, UK, Canada, Brazil, and Mexico (the countries with the most votes), we see that 20,000 people (more likely, bots) voted for a score of 1. Obviously, the objectivity of the rating is undermined as there are significantly fewer people who gave the movie a score from 2 to 10.

Consider Jon Favreau's The Lion King for comparison. When the photorealistic remake of Disney's animated film was released, many viewers criticized its soulless CGI, arguing that the adaptation lost the charm of the original cartoon. Nevertheless, only 88,000 fans gave it a score of 1 on IMDb, while most fans opted for a higher rating.

On The Little Mermaid's rating page on IMDb, the caption above the scores reads, 'Our rating mechanism has detected unusual voting activity on this title. To preserve the reliability of our rating system, an alternate weighting calculation has been applied.' The website does not disclose how the rating system has been adjusted, but it obviously tries to exclude those overwhelming negative scores.

It's also worth noting that the majority of votes on Letterboxd are 3.5 and 4 out of 5, with many viewers actually praising Bailey's acting but criticizing the movie's CGI and directing. These ratings are clearly much more objective compared to those on IMDb, which now really needs to shake things up to avoid this kind of review-bombing in the future.

Sources: IMDb, Letterboxd.