An article in the People’s Daily published on Tuesday said that both websites – which are Chinese equivalents of Rotten Tomatoes – had rated three domestic films (Zhang Yimou’s The Great Wall; Railroad Tigers with Kung-fu star Jackie Chan; and Zhang Jiajia’s Wong Kar Wai-produced See You Tomorrow) “surprisingly” low. The scores reflect both professional reviews and ratings from site visitors.
Douban.com drew criticism in the article after See You Tomorrow received more than 1,000 one-out-of-five ratings even before the movie’s premiere, on midnight of December 23, had ended. The People’s Daily commentary alleged hackers might be interfering with the rating system.
The piece also said critics and “opinion leaders” had spread “ill-intended and irresponsible” comments about these films to “grab eyeballs”, causing serious damage to the ecosystem of Chinese film industry.
“Under the guidance of low ratings, audiences may feel disappointed at domestic films,” the Communist Party mouthpiece said. “Some will even refuse to watch them.”
Zhang Hongsen, chief of the film bureau at the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, was quoted by news sources as having disputed the article in a WeChat Moments post on Wednesday night. His post was reported as: “Refusing criticism is not genuinely caring [for the film industry]”
On the same platform, Yang Bo, founder of Douban.com, rejected the possibility that hacking had taken place on his site but said he would accept “constructive criticism”.