When online trolls tanked reviews for 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Thomas Eromose Ikimi didn’t get mad, he got inspired.
The fractured response among critics and fans galvanized the filmmaker to create Qurator, a movie review app that allows film enthusiasts to rate and discuss movies without encountering the kind of digital provocateurs that rival sites like Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb have fallen victim to.
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“A few years ago I was looking at reviews and I found it very difficult to sift through a rating and decide whether it was accurate,” he told Variety. “I thought that there must be a way of distilling the reactions actual fans would have. That’s what compelled me to look for a solution.”
Ikimi, a computer programmer who directed 2010’s sci-fi thriller “Legacy” with Idris Elba, enlisted Brandon Victor Dixon, best known among theater buffs for “Hamilton” and “Jesus Christ Superstar Live,” to bring his vision to life. Dixon and Ikimi financed the app themselves and are now seeking partners and investors since the app launched in Beta in spring.
“I thought it was the immediate solution to a microcosm of the film world,” Dixon explained to Variety. “We are at a point in time where we are really focused on the integrity of the information we’re given. This solution tied both into our film and social zeitgeists.”
Quarator aims to weed out biased ratings, particularly from people who have never seen a movie, by testing user’s knowledge with a 60-second quiz before allowing them to weigh in on any particular title. With a barrier to review, the two hope to avoid the type of situation Rotten Tomatoes experienced with “Captain Marvel,” in which thousands of trolls trashed the movie before most of the public even saw Marvel’s first female-led superhero tentpole.
(A sample question from a quiz on Quarator.)
“For people who really care about movies, these things actually matter,” said Ikimi, who adds that the app appeals to both casual moviegoers and film fanatics. “It creates a more unified environment where everyone can participate in their love for films.”
Dixon adds, “I used to pay a lot more attention to reviews, but the issue we’re seeking to fix and what caused me to pay less attention to reviews is I wasn’t getting objective information.”
Since users can’t rate a movie without buying a ticket first, Quarator is designed to have mounting impact over time rather than focusing on opening weekend.
“It reverts back to the golden age of cinema where it’s more about momentum,” Ikimi said. “The more people who say you have to see it prolongs the ability for it to catch fire.”