Rotten Apples, a film and TV search engine that lists stars and filmmakers accused of sexual harassment and assault, has been upgraded with features that will allow fans to donate to victims and support non-profit organizations.
The site, which sprung up as part of the #MeToo movement, using an investment from the Abigail Disney-backed company Level Forward, is relaunching, with a wider focus to help fans become more aware of the alleged misdeeds of top filmmakers. Even if viewers continue to watch the films, the site wants audiences to support groups that are working to combat abuses of power. Rotten Apples says it is fostering an environment for “ethical media consumption.” The name is a play on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
For example, when searching “Manchester by the Sea,” users were previously alerted to accusations against Oscar-winner Casey Affleck (which were settled out of court). With Rotten Apples 2.0, the “Manchester” page offers buttons that click to A Call to Men (which educates boys on bullying and dating violence), It’s On Us (which offers a pledge to talk to your community about consent) and a donation page for Global Girls Alliance (which funds female education worldwide).
“We’re moving from shame to leverage,” said Level Forward CEO Adrienne Becker. “We’re using the power of the film and television to get fans involved in the issues and the organizations working on the front lines of discrimination and abuse. Rotten Apples takes us all a step closer towards redistributing narrative power.”
Rotten Apples has registered 9 million searches since launching last year, with users spending over 14 minutes on the site per visit. Since it’s official re-launch on Monday, 22,000 users have engaged with the new tools.
The group said it remains an important tool for consumers, especially with accused harassers such as John Lasseter re-entering the workplace at Skydance Animation and Louis C.K. booking stand-up gigs.
“I don’t know that we necessarily thought that some people out there would become willing to let some of these guys back in so soon. It proves how the site, over a year later, is still super relevant,” said Bekah Nutt, co-founder of Rotten Apples.
“Any tool that gives the consumer more information is great. That’s who is really going to make the difference when it comes down to it — where people decide to put their money and what projects they choose to support,” she said.
Level Forward was launched a year ago, and was initially formed as a prospective bidder for the bankrupt assets of the Weinstein Company, the indie studio overseen by Harvey Weinstein, who allegedly harassed or assaulted dozens of women. Level Forward failed to make a deal; The Weinstein Company is now owned by Lantern Capital. But after its bid fell short, Disney tapped Becker to structure financing and set production deals. Level Forward also acquired some of the assets of Christine Vachon’s Killer Content, headed by Vachon and Pamela Koffler.
The company has been set up as a public benefit corporation, which is similar to a non-profit in that its charter calls for serving the public good, but it allows for ownership by shareholders and for the company to be a profit-making entity.
Level Forward is also pledging to offer pay equity to all of its partners as well as flexibility in its deal-making to offer incentives to creative partners.