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The Rock Movies: A List Of Upcoming Films Starring Dwayne Johnson

What’s the next step up from “movie star”? Because that’s where we need to classify Dwayne Johnson. The man isn’t just blowing up at the multiplex. He’s capturing the explosion in a headlock, pile-driving it into the ground, cracking a joke as he does so, then finishing us off with his trademark, 1,000-watt mega-smile. If we’re lucky, he’ll even arch an eyebrow, just to remind us that this is The Rock’s world. We’re only renting space for a limited time.

The Rock has numerous movies heading to theaters in the near future. Beyond that, he has attached his name to various projects, all of which sound like they will keep the one-time wrestler and current big-screen phenom in the blockbuster business for years. Because we know that you love The Rock as much as we love The Rock, we’ve documented the actor’s next films… even the ones that have just been announced and are still wading though different forms of development. Which of these are you most interested in seeing? Yes you can answer “all of them” if you so choose.

Fighting With My Family

This one flew under the radar for some time (outside of The Rock’s social promotion of it), though it’s a surprise because it’s right in The Rock’s wheelhouse. From what we can tell, Dwayne Johnson will be playing a former wrestler who still tours to small venues and keeps his name in the lights. Now, though, his daughter has her own dreams of fighting in the big leagues, leading to comedic and dramatic developments. Stephen Merchant is writing and directing this one, with Kim Matula, Lena Heady and Vince Vaughn along for the ride.

Release date: February 14, 2019

Hobbs and Shaw

The Rock might not be back for Fast and Furious 9 — whatever it ends up being titled — because he and Vin Diesel still have beef, AND because he’s cultivating a spinoff with Jason Statham that would follow their feuding characters on some type of adventure. There’s no question that the chemistry between these two action-movie icons was the key takeaway from the last two Furious movies. And, while it would have seemed to be a scheduling nightmare to try and find a time when these two extremely busy dudes could find time to bang out a team-up film, they are currently doing just that and have brought Idris Elba and Vanessa Kirby along for the ride. There IS a release date, so everything’s on track for Universal to stick that landing.

Release date: July 26, 2019

Jumanji 3

Even The Rock — who is used to silver screen success — had to be surprised by the overwhelmingly positive response to Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. A huge part of that success had to do with the chemistry of the ensemble, which included Karen Gillan, Jack Black and Kevin Hart. Now, Sony is saying that they want to get everyone back together for a sequel (the studio needs reliable franchises, so I’m not that stunned), but it’s a matter of finding time in Dwayne Johnson’s packed schedule. There was talk that Jumanji 3 would target a December 2019 release date, where it would go toe-to-toe with Star Wars: Episode IX. But, seeing as how it held its own against Star Wars: The Last Jedi, there’s no real reason for The Rock and his crew to back down now, and the current release date will give the film a week long head start on the latest Star Wars film.

Release date: December 13, 2019

San Andreas 2

After the above titles, we start to get speculative, as nothing else on The Rock’s calendar has an actual release date… just a lot of chatter, and updates from the actor’s camp on project possibilities. San Andreas 2 is a no-brainer, as the first movie earned a whopping $473 million in global ticket sales. Rumors at the time of announcement had Dwayne Johnson’s character — an LAFD search-and-rescue helicopter pilot — going up against the Ring of Fire… which means The Rock is going to punch a volcano. No release date yet, but seeing as how Rock loves working with Alexandra Daddario, we think this one’s destined to happen.

Doc Savage

Shane Black returned to theaters with his ’70s detective noir The Nice Guys, and while he was on the publicity circuit, he talked about projects from his past, and his hopeful future. The writer/director most recently finished The Predator, a reboot of that popular franchise which debuted on September 14, 2018, and is now taking a stab at Doc Savage, a pulp magazine character. Shortly after the Doc Savage news broke, The Rock teased a collaboration with Black that he would film in 2017. While some rights issues have stopped the film from getting underway as quickly as Black and Dwayne Johnson had hoped, The Rock did confirm in early 2018 that they’re still working on the project. The story would focus on a heroic character who’s damn near perfect in every way… sounds exactly like Dwayne Johnson! Look for more news on this one soon.

Black Adam / Suicide Squad 2

DC and Warner Bros. locked up The Rock in the role of Black Adam in a Shazam movie several years ago, and while we’ve all just been waiting for that dream to become a reality, it looks like several things have changed behind the scenes. Stay with us here, as this gets kinda confusing. Originally, the plan was for Johnson to play the bad guy/anti-hero in Shazam’s big screen debut, but in January 2017 it was revealed that there was a new plan, one that would see Black Adam get his own movie and not appear in Shazam! at all. Then, at San Diego Comic-Con in July, DC showed off their upcoming slate of movies, but guess what was missing? Black Adam. So, we now have no idea when this movie will happen, or why it doesn’t appear on DC’s latest film slate, but we do still have confirmation from DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns that the film is, supposedly, happening. So, I guess we’ll see!

The Robert Ludlum Universe

This one might be the most recent addition to The Rock’s calendar… because the man clearly isn’t satisfied unless he has double-digit projects on his cinematic To-Do list. The late Robert Ludlum wrote thrillers and espionage stories (the Bourne series drew inspiration from Ludlum’s stories), and Dwayne Johnson recently broke the news that he would be backing an adaptation of the author’s The Janson Directive, which would cast The Rock as an ex-Navy SEAL who gets caught up in a far-reaching government conspiracy that has him hunted by assassins from the Consular Operations. Naturally, if this hits, The Rock could have another franchise on his hands. Because the only thing The Rock likes more than kicking ass if having a new franchise to his name.

Big Trouble in Little China

Truthfully, we were hoping this one would fade away. But The Rock recently reaffirmed plans to make a new version of John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China. And he’s saying all the right things about respecting the source material, and honoring the work of both Carpenter and the legendary Kurt Russell, neither of whom are totally cool with the idea of the film being remade. And, that’s why it’s good that Hiram Garcia, who’s producing the new film, came out recently to let everyone know that this isn’t actually being planned as a remake, but a follow-up. I love The Rock. But, I also love this movie. Because of that, I can freely admit that when plans were announced for Big Trouble to come back to the big screen, I wished The Rock would do something different, and leave this movie alone. Now that I know that it’s more of a sequel, though, am I more on board with the potential? Sure. I’ll probably be there on opening day, hoping with all my heart that they did the world of Big Trouble in Little China justice.

Recently Released

Central Intelligence

Let’s start with the movie that we’ll be able to see next month. From the director of We’re the Millers, Central Intelligence casts The Rock and Kevin Hart as former high-school classmates who reunite years later, with one being in the CIA (Johnson) and the other reluctantly helping him crack a difficult case. Not surprisingly, Rock and Hart seem to have incredible chemistry with each other, and the trailers for Central Intelligence had a ton of authentic laughs… many coming from the Rock shower scene that involves some incredible prosthetics (pictured above).

Release date: June 17, 2016

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Moana

We won’t see The Rock in Disney’s animated Moana, but we’re bound to hear him when the film opens over the Thanksgiving holiday. Set in the ancient South Pacific world of Oceania, Moana will follow a young woman and skilled navigator who sets sail on a thrilling adventure to find a fabled island. Johnson isn’t voicing Moana. Instead, he’ll lend his pipes to Maui, a demi-god who helps Moana on her journey… especially when she starts to encounter sea creatures and legendary oceanic obstacles.

Release date: November 23, 2016

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The Fate of the Furious

You can’t keep a good franchise down, and so — even though they lost one of their founding fathers in Paul Walker — the eighth Fast & Furious film is racing into theaters in April, with new locations (New York City, Iceland and Cuba) and a new villain in Charlize Theron. Still, the F&F series is about family, and The Rock has been part of the crew since Fast Five (still the highwater mark, in my opinion, of this wildly entertaining series). What will Hobbs be doing in The Fate of the Furious? He’ll be holding the “family” together, because “Evil” Vin Diesel wants to tear it apart.

Release date: April 14, 2017

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Baywatch

After pounding bad guys as part of his Fast series, it’s back to the beach for Dwayne Johnson as he heads up a remake of the classic TV show Baywatch. Only, from everything we have been hearing, this one is NOT television friendly. Co-starring Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Priyanka Chopra and several members of the original Baywatch cast, this new comedy is going to be pushing the hard-R rating… which can come from violence (it’s going to have a criminal element to it) but likely will come from the language and humor. So long as it’s funny, and given the Rock’s increasing sense of humor and confidence as an on-screen comedian, we’re feeling optimistic.

Release date: May 19, 2017

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Jumanji

This one, all of a sudden, has been on The Rock’s radar. Johnson’s Central Intelligence co-star Kevin Hart, Guardians of the Galaxy co-star Karen Gillan, and Jack Black will be part of the remake. Rock has even talked about how they have a great tribute to Robin Williams, the original star of Jumanji, planned. It’s not a remake of the original. It’s a sequel, and a continuation, that will use video games to update the story. We shall see soon enough.

Release date: December 22, 2017

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Rampage

Rampage was an arcade game that had gigantic monsters — a wolf, an ape and a dinosaur/lizard — attacking a city and avoiding the military. Players played as the monsters, though the Rampage movie has The Rock defending the city against this onslaught. Director Brad Peyton has already revealed that the film will be “a lot more emotional, a lot scarier and a lot more real than you’d expect,” so we’ll see how the story for this one evolves as time goes on.

Release date: April 20, 2018

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Skyscraper

After Central Intelligence, director Rawson Marshall Thurber mentioned a pitch he had for a Dwayne Johnson action pic that would cast the hulking lead as a retired FBI badass who now assesses security levels in very tall buildings. While on assignment in China, Rock’s character finds himself being framed for a fire set in the skyscraper, and now he has to race time (and overcome obstacles) to free his name and rescue his family. If Skyscraper sounds like The Rock’s Die Hard, well, it is. But Universal believes enough in the concept to give this one a greenlight, and a juicy summer release date.

Release date: July 13, 2018

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Elsa Pataky Is Basically A Mermaid Queen In Netflix’s Dark Tidelands Trailer

There is a new series on the horizon at Netflix! The streaming giant has unveiled the official trailer for its new siren-centered drama, Tidelands. Check out the Fast and Furious franchise’s Elsa Pataky being an absolute mermaid queen in the trailer below:

This trailer has got yours truly super excited. There is no doubt about it. Tidelands is the broody beach retreat we need this winter. The Aussie drama has it all. Romance, suspense and mystery! Is it possible to be hooked before you actually see a show? In this case, it appears to be true.

While the trailer did an excellent job conveying what the series is about, here is the official synopsis. According to Netflix, Tidelands will follow Cal McTeer as she returns to her hometown after serving ten years in juvenile detention. That hometown is Orphelin Bay, and a quick Google search revealed that “orphelin” is the French word for orphan.

Back to the story. Before long, a dead body enters the equation, leading Cal to discover the town’s secrets. Those secrets involve a commune of outcasts, who live in a hidden area of the bay and are known as the Tidelanders.

The series has some True Blood vibes, and it should appeal to fans of any supernatural series. Mermaids have not been as deeply explored as other mythical entities, so this is relatively fresh territory. The Freeform series Siren deals in murderous mermaids, and Australia has previously featured mermaids with the series H20: Just Add Water. Film has also been a fan of the creatures. Besides Ariel, the famous Disney princess, we have had great movies such as the Colin Farrell starrer Ondine.

Tidelands will give viewers the chance to splash around in new waters, though. Elsa Pataky’s Adrielle and Cal seem primed to have their paths eventually converge. If that happens, the lead-up seems destined to elicit a fair share of tension and intrigue.

That is just one piece of suspense in a magnitude of mysteries for the series. To its credit, Tidelands also conjures Netflix’s Bloodlines. So, fans who miss that crime series may also be curious to see what this mermaid drama has in store.

It will be neat to see Elsa Pataky taking a large part in a series. From the trailer alone, you can tell she is going to give an intense performance.

It should also be fun to see how the mermaids will be depicted. At the 29-second mark, you can catch a small glimpse of one. Based on the brief look we got in the trailer, it seems they will be taking a ghostly approach to their appearance in the water. Exciting!

The wait to watch will not last too much longer. Tidelands premieres December 14 on Netflix. The series is one of many shows making their debut this season on the streaming giant and beyond, so be sure to stay up to date on everything coming to the small screen in the next few months.

Ryan Reynolds’ Newest Hugh Jackman Troll Is An A+

After spending 17 years as Wolverine in the X-Men films, Hugh Jackman found the perfect opportunity to hang up his claws in 2017’s Logan. The moving send-off brought closure to many fans of his portrayal of the badass character but not everyone will let his Wolverine rest in peace, *cough, cough* Ryan Reynolds. The Deadpool actor has been at maximum effort to pull Wolverine out of retirement but Jackman is a man of his word. Take a look:

Shots fired! Hugh Jackman was of course asked again about the possibility of a Deadpool / Wolverine crossover that Ryan Reynolds has passionately talked up and hide your ears Wade Wilson, it’s not pretty. Jackman stands by his decision to put Wolverine behind him and Reynolds is apparently standing by his role as president of the “Bring Back Wolverine Foundation.” The hilarious actor called out Jackman on Twitter with some fighting words.

The tweet links to an article by Screen Rant about a recent interview with Hugh Jackman where the actor further confirmed his lack of plans to return as Wolverine. Jackman also talked about how “relentless” Ryan Reynolds is in trying to sway him to co-star in a Deadpool movie, and has approached him multiple times. In Reynolds’ defense, a team-up between the two characters would be an entertaining mash up, and considering the actors’ cute relationship, their on-screen chemistry would be off the charts.

Jackman was the butt of a few hilarious jokes in Deadpool and Reynolds has gone so far to even say he’d cast him as himself just for the chance to work with him again. Considering the goofy fourth-wall breaking nature of the franchise, this idea would not only work but may be the best play for Reynolds to pitch to him.

There is something to be said about giving a character the proper send off and letting it stick in service of him, as Hugh Jackman did with Logan. The actor played the character in eight X-Men movies, including cameos for almost two decades; so, maybe Ryan Reynolds should just let old man Logan rest in peace.

With the Disney and Fox merger soon to be in full effect, the Marvel Universe could get a lot more interesting and feature some more crossover opportunities for Deadpool. While we have no idea if the studios will take the plunge and bring the Avengers and X-Men characters together, they technically can now and that opens some doors. Ryan Reynolds’ iconic character is already entering PG-13 territory this holiday season with the special re-release of Deadpool 2.

The film is getting a new title Once Upon a Deadpool and will be framed around a funny callback to The Princess Bride on December 12. Expect a bitter Christmas card, Hugh Jackman.

This Is Us Ratings Hit A Series Low Before Season 3 Fall Finale

This Is Us has had a solid run thus far as one of television’s most popular dramas, but the NBC show’s ratings slumped in the episode ahead of its fall finale. The result was a series low score in the key demo, and also a low in overall viewers. “Six Thanksgivings” only resulted in a rating of 1.8, but there’s reason to believe those numbers could rebound.

This Is Us‘ Thanksgiving-themed episode may have earned the lowest ratings share the series has had in the key demo, but it was still the highest-rated show of the evening. In what appeared to be an off night for NBC, This Is Us still beat out colleagues like The Voice, which also saw a similar drop in the ratings. New Amsterdam had the best showing of the network, with its 1.1 rating staying even with the week prior.

This Is Us may have won in the key demos, but its rivalry for Tuesday night supremacy continued on with NCIS. Deadline reported the crime procedural was down two-tenths with a 1.2 rating, but won the title of the most-watched program of the evening with 11.9 million viewers. Its viewership lead is nearly 4 million above This Is Us, which posted 7.91 million viewers for the November 20 episode. If its ratings fall further, This Is Us could be in danger of dropping its rating title to NCIS or another primetime program.

As for why This Is Us and others may have struggled, Tuesday night was the evening preceding what could be a travel day for viewers. Families traveling out of town may have been in the process of packing, or en route in vehicles that lack the ability to broadcast primetime television. This means by the time the This Is Us midseason finale arrives on November 27, the series may regain a series ratings pull of over 2.0. (That said, This Is Us has aired an episode around Thanksgiving every season so far, so what made this year different?)

The viewership for the Thanksgiving week episode may be disappointing for This Is Us, as an effort was made to incorporate the holiday into the story. The night featured a look at multiple Thanksgivings for the show’s characters, and a surprise reveal by Randall’s daughter Tess. Tess confided in her aunt Kate that she may want a girlfriend some day — not a boyfriend — and asked Kate to keep her confession a secret from her parents.

Rating slumps in Season 3 have not been uncommon for This Is Us. After record-setting numbers in Season 2, the Season 3 premiere saw a 26% drop in the key demographic. The downward trend could mean the crown is slipping on its primetime supremacy, or just flattening out after a season of big ratings wins due to the mystery of Jack Pearson’s death. The biggest win came with the 2018 Super Bowl Sunday episode, which earned the show 26.97 million viewers and a 9.3 rating.

This Is Us airs on NBC Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET. For a look at what else is coming to television in the near future, be sure to visit and bookmark our fall and midseason premiere guide.

Black Friday 2018: Best Coat Deals on Sale

The Santa Clause Opening Was Originally Way Darker But Disney’s Chairman Said No

If you’re a person of a certain age, you’re probably seen The Santa Clause, and if you’re a person with reasonably good taste, you probably love it. It’s got just the right balance of wholesome holiday fun and David Krumholtz. Turns out, however, that the original movie was apparently supposed to be much darker. Like at the beginning when Santa falls off the roof and dies? Well, in the original script, Scott Calvin was supposed to mistake him for a burglar and shoot him.

Take it from lead actor Tim Allen, who recently told the story during a visit to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon…

OK. So, let’s start off by addressing that Mufasa-sized accusation at the end. Yeah, a few Disney parents have left us too early. Is it really enough to establish a pattern though? Let’s try to put a real number around this hypothesis. Googling… Well, Mental Floss says 27 key Disney characters have dead mothers. Fine. That’s definitely a lot. Tim Allen clearly has a point here, but it’s definitely worth noting that most, if not all, of these characters weren’t shot during a misunderstanding by another main character. So, I get where Jeffrey Katzenberg was coming from there.

That being said, I think we would all like an alternative universe to exist in which The Santa Clause was a really dark movie. Maybe all the light teasing of Neil goes to a really dangerous place? Maybe Scott Calvin gets a little too into being Santa and starts abusing his power at the North Pole? I’m talking in the same vein as a project like Very Bad Things. Hard R-Rating. At least several deaths. Nudity. Maybe a scene where someone intentionally gets the reindeer drunk. I’m just spitballing here, but honestly, all of it is gold.

If you’d like to check out more from Tim Allen’s interview with Jim Fallon in which he touches on Toy Story 4, you can check out the video below…

This is the part of the story where we’d normally tell you when The Santa Clause is coming to theaters and say something like, “Get excited!”, but The Santa Clause came to theaters twenty-four years ago. Even its less exciting sequels came and went. Yup. We all got old. Deal with it.

The Shady World of Fake Beauty Reviews

Last month, a Reddit user and former Sunday Riley employee started a thread on Reddit titled PSA Sunday Riley Employee: We Write Fake Sephora Reviews. “A lot of the really great reviews you read are fake,” the user explained. “We were forced to write fake reviews for our products on an ongoing basis…I saved one of those emails to share here.”

The following screenshot of an internal email had Twitter rumbling. There it was: proof that the one of the biggest resources beauty shoppers use to solicit authentic and unbiased opinions was no longer such. The email detailed directives employees were given to hype up the brand’s products in reviews, including talking points like, “please address how cooling it felt, the green color, the non-drying mask effect, radiance boosting, got rid of your acne after a couple uses,” as well as instructions on how to set up a VPN, or virtual private network, to hide employees’ identities.

The news came as a shock to loyal fans of the brand; many of whom wondered why it needed to take such measures given that the company’s products are revered for their ability to transform your skin. (Good Genes is often cited as one of the best exfoliating serums out there.) A lone nugget of honesty in the memo seemed to point to a rationale: “The power of reviews is mighty, people look to what others are saying to persuade them,” one line read.

That’s exactly the problem—and not only in the beauty industry. Fake reviews are rampant within e-commerce, since online shopping eliminates the option of touching, testing, or swatching a product for yourself. Studies have shown that just having a lot of reviews can actually boost a shopper’s interest in a product—even if a comparable one with fewer reviews is of higher quality. (The reasoning behind this: The more reviews a product receives, the more popular and therefore more desirable it must be.)

And the beauty industry, in which brands face stiff competition and need to find ways to set themselves apart from the crowd, is ripe for all sorts of fakery. (Influencer reviews, which are a whole different beast, also recently came into question over shady practices.) It’s no wonder Estée Laundry, an Instagram account that dubs itself an Anonymous #BeautyCollective, has recently appointed itself a watchdog, calling out fake reviews, copycats, and company scandals. It already boasts 30,500 followers.

The repercussions for these behaviors go way beyond a public shaming. (Not to mention fake reviews could pose legal issues, though they’re usually too small-scale for the FTC, which has strict rules regarding endorsements, to pursue.) Online beauty reviews require some level of trust—namely, that the reviewer actually used the product and is sharing their genuine opinion. The breakdown of that trust can have lasting effects. “Trust and authenticity are keys to buyers today, particularly millennials,” says Russell Winer, Ph.D., a professor and the deputy chair of the marketing department at NYU Stern School of Business. “If that is destroyed, a company can be seriously hurt.”

Sunday Riley, for its part, owned up to it. A few days after the Reddit thread was posted, the brand took to Instagram. “First, you can be assured that the only way that our brand will communicate on all channels, including ‪sephora.com‬, is with our official brand badge,” the brand said in the caption. “Second, we are going to have our business practices and company culture audited by a third-party and will publicly release the results. Lastly, we are actively listening and would love your constructive feedback on what you would like to see from us.” They followed it up with a post tagged with #TransparencyxSundayRiley.

The issue poses a unique challenge to big-box retailers and e-commerce sites, some which get thousands of shopper reviews a week. Sephora was quick to address the matter with the brand, according to a statement given to Glamour. “Sephora has very strict brand rules regarding our Ratings and Reviews, which we know are an important decision tool for our clients,” the retailer says. “Additionally, we have teams dedicated to protecting the integrity of our Ratings and Reviews, ensuring through detailed moderation that it’s a constant trusted, unbiased, authentic source for all.”

In some cases, retailers enlist third-party companies to sift through reviews. “There’s software that companies can use to spot fakes with high accuracy,” says Winer. Ulta Beauty partners with a third-party agency, PowerReviews, to help them manage their review process and covers both product reviews and product Q&As, according to a representative. It also takes steps to identify “Verified Buyers” with a badge attached to the review. That indicates it’s been written by someone who purchased the product directly from Ulta Beauty—thus minimizing the chances that it’s inauthentic.

Legitimate reviews for MAC’s Studio Fix Fluid SPF 15 Foundation.

While Amazon declined to comment for this story, the site has made headlines for issues with fake reviews in the past. It’s inevitable, really, with that amount of inventory. “Anything that has a really high margin, is highly competitive, and has a low cost of goods—like, I imagine, beauty products—has a problem with inauthentic reviews on Amazon,” says Tommy Noonan, the founder of ReviewMeta.com, a website that analyzes the trustworthiness of Amazon reviews.

An elephant in the room is the retailers themselves. After all, they don’t always have a lot of incentive to take down fake reviews—especially if they’re positive. “The conflict of interest is glaring,” says Noonan. “The higher the rating of the product, the more it’s going to sell.” Sift through the foundations on Sephora and you’d be hard press to find a formula that falls below three stars. (Although, there are products in other categories with 2.5 stars or less, they’re often found buried on page six or seven of options.) Ulrike Gretzel, Ph.D., a senior fellow at USC’s Annenberg School of Communication & Journalism and the director of research at market research company Netnografica, agrees. “Retail platforms often display products based on rating scores, and the average rating score is often the only thing consumers see right under the product name,” she explains. “This means that consumers will not even look at products that receive low average ratings.” And if they’re not looking at them, they’re probably not buying.

That leaves a lot of the sleuthing up to us. Aside from looking for vetted reviews, like those that stem from verified purchases, you can take matters into your own hands by looking for the hallmarks of a fake review. “The main one is a lack of detail about the product implying that the reviewer hasn’t actually used it,” says Winer. “Sometimes, a bunch of fake reviews show up at once if the competitor’s employees have been told to do this; check the timestamps on the reviews.” Fake reviews will also often be shorter—since posters may not put as much time or effort into it if they have a ton of them to write.

He also recommends that you focus on the reviews that fall in the middle of the range—so, if the rating is one to five stars, look at the reviews that give two to four stars. “The fives are generally uniformly enthusiastic, [while] the ones are the opposite,” Winer explains. “You get more information from the middle group, as they usually list pluses and minuses, which help more.”

It’s far from a perfect system and it’s disappointing that there aren’t more ways to deter fake reviews. Not only do they undermine truly good quality brands, but they also hurt and mislead customers who spend money on products that work—or so they think. While verifying purchases and, yes, maybe calling it out when it happens will help, in the long-run, brands and retailers alike need to continue to hold themselves to a higher standard. After all, if a product isn’t getting rave reviews, maybe the solution is to re-work the formula instead of simply duping fans.

The Beauty Reviews You’re Reading Are Probably Fake

Last month, a Reddit user and former Sunday Riley employee started a thread on Reddit titled PSA Sunday Riley Employee: We Write Fake Sephora Reviews. “A lot of the really great reviews you read are fake,” the user explained. “We were forced to write fake reviews for our products on an ongoing basis…I saved one of those emails to share here.”

The following screenshot of an internal email had Twitter rumbling. There it was: proof that the one of the biggest resources beauty shoppers use to solicit authentic and unbiased opinions was no longer such. The email detailed directives employees were given to hype up the brand’s products in reviews, including talking points like, “please address how cooling it felt, the green color, the non-drying mask effect, radiance boosting, got rid of your acne after a couple uses,” as well as instructions on how to set up a VPN, or virtual private network, to hide employees’ identities.

The news came as a shock to loyal fans of the brand; many of whom wondered why it needed to take such measures given that the company’s products are revered for their ability to transform your skin. (Good Genes is often cited as one of the best exfoliating serums out there.) A lone nugget of honesty in the memo seemed to point to a rationale: “The power of reviews is mighty, people look to what others are saying to persuade them,” one line read.

That’s exactly the problem—and not only in the beauty industry. Fake reviews are rampant within e-commerce, since online shopping eliminates the option of touching, testing, or swatching a product for yourself. Studies have shown that just having a lot of reviews can actually boost a shopper’s interest in a product—even if a comparable one with fewer reviews is of higher quality. (The reasoning behind this: The more reviews a product receives, the more popular and therefore more desirable it must be.)

And the beauty industry, in which brands face stiff competition and need to find ways to set themselves apart from the crowd, is ripe for all sorts of fakery. (Influencer reviews, which are a whole different beast, also recently came into question over shady practices.) It’s no wonder Estée Laundry, an Instagram account that dubs itself an Anonymous #BeautyCollective, has recently appointed itself a watchdog, calling out fake reviews, copycats, and company scandals. It already boasts 30,500 followers.

The repercussions for these behaviors go way beyond a public shaming. (Not to mention fake reviews could pose legal issues, though they’re usually too small-scale for the FTC, which has strict rules regarding endorsements, to pursue.) Online beauty reviews require some level of trust—namely, that the reviewer actually used the product and is sharing their genuine opinion. The breakdown of that trust can have lasting effects. “Trust and authenticity are keys to buyers today, particularly millennials,” says Russell Winer, Ph.D., a professor and the deputy chair of the marketing department at NYU Stern School of Business. “If that is destroyed, a company can be seriously hurt.”

Sunday Riley, for its part, owned up to it. A few days after the Reddit thread was posted, the brand took to Instagram. “First, you can be assured that the only way that our brand will communicate on all channels, including ‪sephora.com‬, is with our official brand badge,” the brand said in the caption. “Second, we are going to have our business practices and company culture audited by a third-party and will publicly release the results. Lastly, we are actively listening and would love your constructive feedback on what you would like to see from us.” They followed it up with a post tagged with #TransparencyxSundayRiley.

The issue poses a unique challenge to big-box retailers and e-commerce sites, some which get thousands of shopper reviews a week. Sephora was quick to address the matter with the brand, according to a statement given to Glamour. “Sephora has very strict brand rules regarding our Ratings and Reviews, which we know are an important decision tool for our clients,” the retailer says. “Additionally, we have teams dedicated to protecting the integrity of our Ratings and Reviews, ensuring through detailed moderation that it’s a constant trusted, unbiased, authentic source for all.”

In some cases, retailers enlist third-party companies to sift through reviews. “There’s software that companies can use to spot fakes with high accuracy,” says Winer. Ulta Beauty partners with a third-party agency, PowerReviews, to help them manage their review process and covers both product reviews and product Q&As, according to a representative. It also takes steps to identify “Verified Buyers” with a badge attached to the review. That indicates it’s been written by someone who purchased the product directly from Ulta Beauty—thus minimizing the chances that it’s inauthentic.

Legitimate reviews for MAC’s Studio Fix Fluid SPF 15 Foundation.

While Amazon declined to comment for this story, the site has made headlines for issues with fake reviews in the past. It’s inevitable, really, with that amount of inventory. “Anything that has a really high margin, is highly competitive, and has a low cost of goods—like, I imagine, beauty products—has a problem with inauthentic reviews on Amazon,” says Tommy Noonan, the founder of ReviewMeta.com, a website that analyzes the trustworthiness of Amazon reviews.

An elephant in the room is the retailers themselves. After all, they don’t always have a lot of incentive to take down fake reviews—especially if they’re positive. “The conflict of interest is glaring,” says Noonan. “The higher the rating of the product, the more it’s going to sell.” Sift through the foundations on Sephora and you’d be hard press to find a formula that falls below three stars. (Although, there are products in other categories with 2.5 stars or less, they’re often found buried on page six or seven of options.) Ulrike Gretzel, Ph.D., a senior fellow at USC’s Annenberg School of Communication & Journalism and the director of research at market research company Netnografica, agrees. “Retail platforms often display products based on rating scores, and the average rating score is often the only thing consumers see right under the product name,” she explains. “This means that consumers will not even look at products that receive low average ratings.” And if they’re not looking at them, they’re probably not buying.

That leaves a lot of the sleuthing up to us. Aside from looking for vetted reviews, like those that stem from verified purchases, you can take matters into your own hands by looking for the hallmarks of a fake review. “The main one is a lack of detail about the product implying that the reviewer hasn’t actually used it,” says Winer. “Sometimes, a bunch of fake reviews show up at once if the competitor’s employees have been told to do this; check the timestamps on the reviews.” Fake reviews will also often be shorter—since posters may not put as much time or effort into it if they have a ton of them to write.

He also recommends that you focus on the reviews that fall in the middle of the range—so, if the rating is one to five stars, look at the reviews that give two to four stars. “The fives are generally uniformly enthusiastic, [while] the ones are the opposite,” Winer explains. “You get more information from the middle group, as they usually list pluses and minuses, which help more.”

It’s far from a perfect system and it’s disappointing that there aren’t more ways to deter fake reviews. Not only do they undermine truly good quality brands, but they also hurt and mislead customers who spend money on products that work—or so they think. While verifying purchases and, yes, maybe calling it out when it happens will help, in the long-run, brands and retailers alike need to continue to hold themselves to a higher standard. After all, if a product isn’t getting rave reviews, maybe the solution is to re-work the formula instead of simply duping fans.

Queenie’s’ Crimes Of Grindelwald Twist Was Hard For The Actress To Grasp

Massive spoilers ahead for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Turn away if you haven’t seen it!

David Yates’ Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them franchise recently returned to theaters with The Crimes of Grindelwald, telling a story decidedly more dark and connected to the world of Hogwarts. Johnny Depp’s Grindelwald was a terrifying force in the movie, and gained a ton of power during the film’s third act. He was able to get a ton of followers for his campaign against muggles, including one of the main characters.

Alison Sudol’s Queenie was a quirky supporting character in the first movie, but had a rough go in The Crimes of Grindelwald. After being shamed for her psychic abilities and a breakup with Jacob, Queenie walks through Grindelwald’s fire and joins his army. Sudol recently spoke to her original confusion for this choice, saying:

Per her conversation with EW, it looks like Alison Sudol was just as confused as the fans when Queenie left her no-maj lover and joined Grindelwald’s forces. While seemingly ignorant of the insidious nature of the dark wizard, it’s clear that Queenie and her sister Tina are going to be on different sides when a threequel eventually arrives in theaters.

While Queenie was originally introduced as a quirky and sultry witch, her psychic abilities plagued her more than audiences were originally privy to. It seems reading minds has always made her an outcast, and can overwhelm Queenie in moments of emotional distress. We saw this in Crimes of Grindelwald, where she was incapacitated by the thoughts of others after she and Jacob have an argument.

It’s this outsider identity that Grindelwald was able to tap into, and convince Queenie to leave the Ministry and her family for another cause. Johnny Depp’s villain also used terrifying images of World War II to scare the Wizarding Community, convincing others to join his cause. It’s currently unclear how much Grindelwald was targeting Queenie specifically, but her psychic abilities will no doubt be of interest in Fantastic Beasts 3.

In many ways, The Crimes of Grindelwald provided a ton of exposition and set up for the next three movies. The film’s heroes barely had any contact with the titular villain, and Jude Law’s Dumbledore remained largely on the sidelines. And given the shocking news about Credence’s parentage, it’s clear that J.K. Rowling has big plans for the next set of films.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is in theaters now. Be sure to check our 2019 release list to plan your trips to the movies in the New Year.

Connie Britton Open To 9-1-1 Or American Horror Story Return

Connie Britton has starred in some of the best shows on television in the past decade or so. So it’s understandable any series that formerly had her would want her back, given the opportunity. Fortunately, it appears that may actually happen with two shows. Britton indicated she might return to 9-1-1 or American Horror Story at some point in the future.

When it comes to Ryan Murphy, Connie Britton will apparently never shut the door on a return. That much was evident when she reprised her role as Vivien Harmon in Season 8 of American Horror Story. Britton admitted to The Wrap she had yet to see her return to the anthology horror series, mostly due to her busy schedule as of late. Britton also confessed she has trouble watching American Horror Story even when she is free because it’s scary.

Unlike American Horror Story, Connie Britton hasn’t been seen on 9-1-1 since Season 1. Britton exited the first responder drama at the end of the inaugural season. Her exit came after her character Abby was set up for a romance with Buck, but her mother’s death inspired her to take a trip to Ireland. The two parted ways, and Britton’s character was ultimately replaced with a new character played by Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Though Abby is gone from 9-1-1, the story was written in such a way that she could return to the story for an episode or two. Britton has confirmed in the past that she’d be willing to return to Abby at some point in the future, which appears to mean she’s ready to hop back on board for a short run should the stars align in the future.

Connie Britton may be up for a return to 9-1-1, or another run on American Horror Story, but it’d have to be a deal that accounts for her busy schedule. The world is about to see Britton’s next television adventure in the upcoming Bravo miniseries Dirty John, which premieres Sunday, November 25. Britton will play divorcée Debra Newell in a true crime drama based on a popular podcast.

9-1-1 airs on Fox Mondays at 9 p.m. ET. American Horror Story: Apocalypse Season 8 has already ended, but episodes of FX’s Seasons 1-7 can be binged on Netflix. For a look at what else is coming to television in the near future, be sure to visit our fall and midseason premiere guides.