Concern Over Warner Bros. Buying Rotten Tomatoes

The Hollywood studio now owns one of the most popular review sites

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Warner Bros. has officially bought the social-movie site Flixster for an undisclosed sum. The impending deal, first reported by All Things D in March, underscores the studio's aggressive digital expansion by making some of its titles, including the Dark Knight, available as Facebook rentals.

Interestingly, the deal also includes the Rotten Tomatoes website, the hub for aggregated movie news and curated critics reviews with 12 million unique visitors a month. Even though the studio has noted that the site will continue to operate "independently," there's an obvious conflict of interest in the acquisition. Namely, how the studio will respond after a big summer tentpole gets slapped with a "rotten" label from early critics reviews on the site.

There's also smaller details to watch on Tomatoes, like how the studio will roll out exclusive trailers, movie stills and interviews in advance of their titles."Will they suddenly have priority access to news and trailers and other goodies related to Warner Bros. films?" wondered Flick Filosopher blogger MaryAnn Johanson. "A major studio owning a movie critique website doesn’t sound like a 'win-win' scenario for movie goers," wrote one Deadline Hollywood commenter.

Still, it would be pretty difficult for the Warner Bros. to slant Rotten Tomatoes' "fresh" or "rotten" labels given the number of competitor sites. But the acquisition does give room for pause: "After all, hasn't vertical integration always worked out to everyone's benefit?" quipped the The A.V. Club.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.