LOS ANGELES - Thousands of angry DC Comics fans are backing a petition calling for the closure of reviews aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, after a lukewarm response to supervillain blockbuster "Suicide Squad."
A poster calling himself Abdullah Coldwater of Alexandria, Egypt, started the campaign accusing the site of giving "unjust bad reviews... and that affects people's opinion even if it's a really great (movie)."
The petition at change.org had received almost 15,000 signatures by midday on Wednesday.
Rotten Tomatoes works out the percentage of reviews that can be deemed positive. It does not offer its own critical assessment of movies.
Based on 88 reviews, it currently shows a 32 percent rating for the hotly anticipated "Suicide Squad," which hits cinemas on Friday.
Starring Will Smith, Jared Leto and Margot Robbie as a band of deadly criminals recruited to execute dangerous black-ops missions, the film has an average critical score of 4.9 out of 10.
"If you know someone you really can't stand -- not someone you dislike, not someone who rubs you the wrong way, but someone you really loathe and detest -- send that person a ticket for 'Suicide Squad,'" wrote Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Warner Bros. executives were hoping it would get right what March's "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" -- its heavily criticized predecessor in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) -- got wrong, promising a lighter, more fun film.
"'Suicide Squad' boasts a talented cast and a little more humor than previous DCEU efforts," the Rotten Tomatoes critical consensus reads.
"But they aren't enough to save the disappointing end result from a muddled plot, thinly written characters and choppy directing."
The tepid response to David Ayer's film has piled further pressure on Warner to finally produce a film to match the critical success of rival studio Marvel's superhero universe.
April's "Captain America: Civil War" made more than $1.1 billion worldwide and has a 90 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 320 reviews.
Ayer defended the movie, quoting Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata's famous line translated as "I'd rather die standing than live on my knees."
The phrase gained currency last year with the Islamist murder of 12 staff members of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, whose slain editor Stephane Charbonnier had used it in an interview wih Le Monde.
"Zapata quote is my way of saying I love the movie and believe in it. Made it for the fans. Best experience of my life," Ayer tweeted.
What the critics think of "Suicide Squad" may not matter, however, if it manages to emulate the financial performance of its predecessors.
DC's "Man of Steel" (2013) managed 56 percent on Rotten Tomatoes while "Batman v Superman" is sitting on a woeful 27 percent rating -- but the films made a healthy $1.5 billion between them.
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