Courtesy of Sundance Institute Angelina Jolie and David Oyelowo in Come Away
Come Away — a prequel to Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan that stars Oyelowo, 44, and Jolie, 45, as the parents to siblings Peter and Alice (played by Keira Chansa and Jordan Nash) — has received overwhelming negative user-generated ratings online, despite the film not even being released yet in the U.S., where it opens Nov. 13.
"The thing you fear most as a filmmaker is for any kind of stink to build up around your film,” Oyelowo, who also serves as a producer on the film, told The Hollywood Reporter.
It's the latest in a pattern of racist and sexist attacks that have affected Oyelowo's previous movies and other films made by people of color and women.
“In an era when there is so much content to take in, all it takes is looking at the rating on IMDb or on a trailer to subconsciously make a decision as to whether you are going to engage with that content or not," he added.
Per THR, negative user-generated ratings on sites such as YouTube, IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes have been done to many films that tend to center on women or minorities, such as the female-led Ghostbusters remake, the James Baldwin doc I Am Not Your Negro, and Oyelowo's film A United Kingdom, all released in 2016.
According to the outlet, IMDb has taken down user ratings for the upcoming film.
"We had such a tirade and influx of racial negative comments that Fox Searchlight had to take down our Facebook page," Oyelowo recalled of the attacks towards A United Kingdom.
Courtesy of Sundance Institute Keira Chansa, David Oyelowo, Reece Yates and Jordan Nash in Come Away
Courtesy of Sundance Institute Keira Chansa and David Oyelowo in Come Away
“This has been something I have experienced in my career, regularly,” he added, “being a Black person who tends to gravitate toward aspirational content. It seems like these folks find that the most deplorable.”
While Come Away is not in theaters for another two weeks, the film's online ratings have been available for months since the movie debuted at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival back in January.
"For a film that hasn’t been released yet — the ratings are supposed to be based on the people watching the films — it was clear there was something about the tone and nature of the film that was bumping certain people,” said Oyelowo. “One of the first things I did was to make IMDb aware of this because I know it had an effect on A United Kingdom five years ago.”
Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic David Oyelowo
Oyelowo told THR that he thinks the film studios need to become more proactive in their responses to the online attacks, which are often related to race, gender, and sexuality.
“It’s a small group of people. You have got to get ahead of it. We are cultural curators and we can build a world that we want to see by making content of this nature," he said.
Come Away hits theaters on Nov. 13.