‘The Little Mermaid’ Review-Bombing Prompts IMDb to Tweak Rating System

The live action Disney feature has more than 17,000 1-star user ratings, leading the website to declare ‘Unusual activity’

Sebastian Little Mermaid 2023
Halle Bailey in "The Little Mermaid" (Credit: Disney)

IMDb thinks something is fishy with the wave of negative reviews for “The Little Mermaid.”

The website has seen more than 43,000 users rate Disney’s latest live action remake, and it now has an overall rating of 7 out of 10. But the page for the Halle Bailey-led flick also comes with an “unusual activity” flag.

That’s because the film has gotten “bombed” with more than 17,000 reviews of 1, the bottom of the site’s scale, or nearly 40% of all reviews.

“Our rating mechanism has detected unusual voting activity on this title,” the notice states. “To preserve the reliability of our rating system, an alternate weighting calculation has been applied.”

The company explains that it publishes “weighted vote averages,” rather than raw data averages, meaning that “not all votes have the same impact (or ‘weight’) on the final rating.”

“When unusual voting activity is detected, an alternate weighting calculation may be applied in order to preserve the reliability of our system,” the explanation continues. “To ensure that our rating mechanism remains effective, we do not disclose the exact method used to generate the rating.”

The suspect reviews are likely related to the fact that the movie has generated controversy over the casting of Bailey, who is Black, in the titular role.

Nevertheless, the movie is proving popular with audiences. It’s pulled in more than $130 million domestically since its Memorial Day weekend debut. But with just a $79 million haul from international screens, some box office analysts are pointing to the “review bombing” that sites like IMDb have seen as a reason for dampening enthusiasm for the film worldwide.