‘The Little Mermaid’ Smear Campaign Prompts IMDb to Adjust Rating System

The Little Mermaid (Credit: Disney)

Some disgruntled internet users just won’t leave The Little Mermaid alone.

The live-action remake of Disney’s 1989 animated classic has been targeted on entertainment database website IMDb by “review bombings,” where people flood a movie, TV show or video game with negative reviews to lower its rating and potentially hurt its earnings.

As of Thursday afternoon, The Little Mermaid had 45,000 user reviews on IMDb and an average score of 7 out of 10 stars.

The site noticed something fishy was happening with the reviews and posted a note on the film’s dedicated page, saying steps had been taken to address the issue.

“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 note said.

Related Story: ‘The Little Mermaid’ Struggles in China Amid Racism Debate

Other movies featuring women and Black performers have also been targeted online by review bombers, including Marvel’s Black Panther (2018), the all-female remake of Ghostbusters (2016), and actor and producer David Oyelowo’s fantasy film Come Away (2020).

Oyelowo, who produced the film alongside co-star Angelina Jolie, went public three years ago and said he warned IMDb he had experienced review bombing before with his 2016 movie, A United Kingdom.

Film critics gave The Little Mermaid a similar score to the one it has on IMDb. On review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 68 percent score from critics who described the kids flick as “dependable” and “dazzling,” yet “dramatically vacant.”

It’s unclear why internet mobs targeted the movie.  Although racists and die-hard fans of the animated original movie have been venting online since 2019, when Halle Bailey landed the lead role as young mermaid Ariel.

Angry fans lashed out at Disney and the team behind the film for casting a Black woman as the fictional redhead.

As previously reported, Chinese newspaper The Global Times even published an article saying “it takes a leap of imagination to accept the new cast.”

The Little Mermaid debuted globally on May 26, in time for the Memorial Day holiday in the U.S.

To date, the film has earned $209 million worldwide, after ringing up $130.2 million domestically and $78.9 million abroad.