The Promise, a $100m movie starring Christian Bale, has already received over 60,000 one star reviews on IMDb, despite the fact it has only been screened one time ever.
And an army of nationalist trolls from Turkey, desperate to suppress the period of history shown in the film, are allegedly to blame
The Promise is set in a harrowing period of Turkish history during the First World War, in which the Ottoman Empire slaughtered 1.5m Armenians.
This is referred to by many as the Armenian Genocide, or the “Armenian Holocaust”.
The movie isn’t actually out yet, and has only been shown to around 900 people at a single screening at the Toronto Film Festival.
But that hasn’t stopped it amassing an overwhelming quantity of online downvotes from people who can’t possible have seen it.
Movie producers are accusing an internet army of Turkish genocide deniers of being responsible for their 1.8 star rating out of 10 (it has since recovered somewhat).
Producer Eric Esrailian told The Hollywood Reporter he saw the tactic as “a kind of censorship” of the film’s message, as the “IMDb rating will stay with the film forever” and influence whether or not people see the film.
IMDb doesn’t trace (or at least disclose) where its reviews come from. But there have been posts on Incisozluk, a kind of Turkish 4chan, urging users to pan the film.
Some posts even give a step-by-step breakdown of how to “downvote”.
“Guys, Hollywood is filming a big movie about the so-called Armenian genocide,” wrote one user, translated her by the Hollywood Reporter, “and the trailer has already been watched 700k times. We need to do something urgently.”
The same user later celebrated the film’s poor ratings, suggesting a link.
Similar online campaigns have been blamed for poor ratings in the past.
4chan users also mobilised to “downvote” films such as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and the trailers of shows like Netlflix’s Dear White People, which has yet to air.
Armenians have long been campaigning for their murdered forebears to be recognised as the victims of a genocide.
The Turkish government stands against this on the grounds of a technicality, maintaining that the killing, deportation and selling into labour of the Armenians wasn’t systematic or planned on ethnic grounds, so doesn’t count.
When Pope Francis called it “the first genocide of the 20th century”, Turkey recalled its ambassador from the Vatican.
The late billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, whose parents were Armenian, spent years on The Promise, financing it and getting it off the ground. He died before he could see a return on his investment, or the dissemination of the film’s message.
Two years ago Kim and Khloe Kardashian, whose parents came to America a year before the genocide, went to Armenia and visited the genocide monument on the month of the killings’ centenary, popularly considered to have begun on April 24, 1915.
They also met with the country’s prime minister Hovik Abrahamyan.
The sisters posted on Twitter about the need for awareness, and Kim criticised Barack Obama for not using the word “genocide” when describing the atrocity, despite the fact that 43 American states recognise it as such.
“I would like President Obama to use the word genocide’”, said Kardashian in a piece for TIME magazine. “It’s very disappointing he hasn’t used it as President.”
The Promise is released in US cinemas on April 21