The producers of Billion Dollar Bully, the upcoming documentary that explores review site Yelp's gamut of controversies, do not plan on going easy on the company. The investigative film will not only examine claims by business owners of "review manipulation and review fabrication," but according to the Hollywood Reporter, it also accuses Yelp of "mob-like behavior." The independent film aims to make the case that "Yelp is something akin to the mob, allegedly demanding ‘protection' money, lest your business be overrun with negative comments." Executive producer Michael Levine warns: "We're going behind the curtain of a cultural phenomenon. There are things about Yelp people don't know, and that they won't like."
Yelp vehemently denies all the claims in the documentary calling them false and has fired back at the filmmaker Kaylie Milliken saying that she is making this movie out of a "conflict of interest" involving her husband's law firm. A spokesperson tells THR: "The director has a conflict of interest, as she has a history of trying to mislead consumers on Yelp. To be clear, there has never been any amount of money a business can pay Yelp to manipulate reviews and claims to the contrary, which this filmmaker appears to highlight, have been repeatedly dismissed by courts of law, investigated by government regulators, including the FTC, and disproven by academic study."
Milliken says that her idea for the film began when an alternative doctor she was seeing "mentioned to her that she was having troubles with Yelp reviews." After Milliken had trouble posting positive reviews to the doctor's Yelp page, she made a number of other accounts to see if this happened to her elsewhere on the site. The movie has many supporters: Milliken raised $150,000 through crowdfunding and the rest of her $500,000 budget comes from investments by several business owners "who aren't fans of Yelp." There is no release date yet for the film.