'Lord Of The Rings: The Rings of Power' Review-Bombing Leads Amazon To Suspend User Ratings Amid Record Viewership

Amazon has suspended user ratings for Prime Video’s blockbuster fantasy series “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” due to targeting of the show by “review bombing” trolls, according to a new report over at The Hollywood Reporter.

A source told THR that user reviews for “The Rings of Power” are being held for 72 hours to ensure their legitimacy and keep trolls at bay, adding that the policy is one Prime Video started this summer on all of its shows to avoid instances of “review bombing” — i.e. a coordinated effort by a large number of users to post negative reviews of a film or TV series based on a perceived cultural and/or political stance taken by the filmmakers.

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Since its cast was first announced earlier this year, “Rings of Power” has been slammed by some online trolls who claim the show’s creators betrayed the vision of Peter Jackson’s largely-white original films by casting a set of racially-diverse actors, among other complaints. In response to that racist critique, executive producer Lindsey Weber told Vanity Fair in February, “It felt only natural to us that an adaptation of [author J.R.R.] Tolkien’s work would reflect what the world actually looks like. Tolkien is for everyone. His stories are about his fictional races doing their best work when they leave the isolation of their own cultures and come together.”

Notably, Amazon hasn’t applied the same user review policy to its subsidiary IMDB, where “Rings of Power” — which has been largely well-reviewed by critics — currently boasts an average user rating of 6.5/10 based on 57,000 reviews. That’s better than at Rotten Tomatoes, where the series currently has an Audience Score of 37% from 13,121 user ratings versus an 84% “Fresh” rating from critics. (The Playlist’s review of the series was largely positive, with Brian Tallerico calling it “epic fantasy storytelling…that not only shows its oversized budget but allows its world to feel expansive and deep, even if it sometimes feels like we already know our way around it.”)

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Review-bombing certainly isn’t a new phenomenon. For years, films and TV series — mainly those with racially diverse and/or female-fronted casts — have been subject to the unfortunate practice, from the all-woman 2016 remake of “Ghostbusters” to The CW’s “Batwoman” to 2017’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and, most recently, Marvel’s “She-Hulk: Attorney At Law,” which currently has an Audience Score of just 50% on Rotten Tomatoes (an improvement over a 36% score last week) despite boasting a strong 87% “Fresh” rating from critics. But Amazon’s strategy of holding user reviews until they can be vetted is a rather novel approach to the problem that could potentially inspire other companies to do the same in the future.

Vocal minority aside, the backlash doesn’t appear to have hurt “Rings of Power” in terms of popularity with viewers. On Saturday, Amazon took the unprecedented step of revealing viewership data for a Prime Video series for the first time ever, claiming the show’s first two episodes drew 25 million viewers globally in the first 24 hours following their debut, a record for the streaming service.

Watch “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” trailer below.