IMDb, also known as Internet Movie Database, is an online database of
information related to world films, television programs, home videos
and video games, and internet streams, including cast, production
crew, personnel and fictional character biographies, plot summaries,
trivia, and fan reviews and ratings. An additional fan feature,
message boards, was abandoned in February, 2017. The database is owned
and operated by IMDb.com, Inc., a subsidiary of Amazon. As of
IMDb has approximately 4.7 million titles
(including episodes) and 8.3 million personalities in its database,
as well as 83 million registered users. The movie and talent pages of
IMDb are accessible to all internet users, but a registration process
is necessary to contribute information to the site.
Most data in the database is provided by volunteer contributors. The
site enables registered users to submit new material and edits to
existing entries. Users with a proven track record of submitting
factual data are given instant approval for additions or corrections
to cast, credits, and other demographics of media product and
personalities. However, image, name, character name, plot summaries,
and title changes are supposedly screened before publication, and
usually take between 24–72 hours to appear.
All registered users choose their own site name, and most operate
anonymously. They have a profile page which shows how long a
registered user has been a member, as well as personal movie ratings
(should the user decide to display them) and, since 2015, "badges" are
added representing how many contributions a particular registered user
has submitted. These badges range from total contributions made to
independent categories such as photos, trivia, bios, etc. If a
registered user or visitor is in the entertainment industry and has an
IMDb page, that user/visitor can add photos to that page by enrolling
in IMDbPRO. There is no single index of contributors, no index on
each profile page of the items contributed, and, excepting for plot
synopses and biographies, no identification of contributors to each
product's or person's data pages.
Users are also invited to rate any film on a scale of 1 to 10, and the
totals are converted into a weighted mean-rating that is displayed
beside each title, with online filters employed to deter
1.1 History before website
1.2 On the web
1.3 As an independent company
Amazon.com subsidiary (1998–present)
3 Television episodes
4 Characters' filmography
5 Instant viewing
6 Content and format
6.1 Data provided by subjects
6.2 Copyright, vandalism and error issues
6.3 Data format and access
6.4 Film titles
7 Ancillary features
7.1 User ratings of films
7.2 Message boards
9 See also
11 External links
History before website
IMDb originated with a
Usenet posting by British film fan and computer
Col Needham entitled "Those Eyes", about actresses with
beautiful eyes. Others with similar interests soon responded with
additions or different lists of their own. Needham subsequently
started an "Actors List", while Dave Knight began a "Directors List",
and Andy Krieg took over "THE LIST" from Hank Driskill, which would
later be renamed the "Actress List". Both lists had been restricted to
people who were alive and working, but soon retired people were added,
so Needham started what was then (but did not remain) a separate "Dead
Actors/Actresses List". The goal of the participants now was to make
the lists as inclusive as possible.
By late 1990, the lists included almost 10,000 movies and television
series correlated with actors and actresses appearing therein. On
October 17, 1990, Needham developed and posted a collection of Unix
shell scripts which could be used to search the four lists, and thus
the database that would become the
IMDb was born. At the time, it
was known as the "rec.arts.movies movie database".
On the web
The database had been expanded to include additional categories of
filmmakers and other demographic material as well as trivia,
biographies, and plot summaries. The movie ratings had been properly
integrated with the list data, and a centralized email interface for
querying the database had been created by Alan Jay. Later, in 1993, it
moved onto the World Wide Web, (a network in its infancy at that time)
under the name of Cardiff Internet Movie Database. The database
resided on the servers of the computer science department of Cardiff
University in Wales.
Rob Hartill was the original web interface
author. In 1994, the email interface was revised to accept the
submission of all information, which enabled people to email the
specific list maintainer with their updates. However, the structure
remained so that information received on a single film was divided
among multiple section managers, the sections being defined and
determined by categories of film personnel and the individual
filmographies contained therein. Over the next few years, the database
was run on a network of mirrors across the world with donated
As an independent company
IMDb was incorporated in the United Kingdom, becoming the
Internet Movie Database Ltd. Founder
Col Needham became the primary
owner as well as the figurehead. General revenue for site operations
was generated through advertising, licensing and partnerships.
Amazon.com subsidiary (1998–present)
In 1998, Jeff Bezos, founder, owner and CEO of Amazon.com, struck a
deal with Needham and other principal shareholders to buy IMDb
outright for approximately $55 million and attach it to Amazon as a
subsidiary, private company. This gave
IMDb the ability to pay the
shareholders salaries for their work, while
Amazon.com would be able
IMDb as an advertising resource for selling DVDs and
IMDb continued to expand its functionality. On January 15, 2002, it
added a subscription service known as IMDbPro, aimed at entertainment
professionals. IMDbPro was announced and launched at the 2002 Sundance
Film Festival. It provides a variety of services including film
production and box office details, as well as a company directory and
the ability of subscribers to add personal information pages with
details at variance with pages about them appearing in the database.
As an additional incentive for users, as of 2003, users identified as
one of "the top 100 contributors" of hard data received complimentary
free access to IMDbPro for the following calendar year; for 2006 this
was increased to the top 150 contributors, and for 2010 to the top
250. In 2008
IMDb launched their first official foreign language
version with the German IMDb.de. Also in 2008,
IMDb acquired two other
Withoutabox and Box Office Mojo.
The website was originally Perl-based, but
IMDb no longer discloses
what software it uses for reasons of security. As of May 2011, the
site has been filtered in China for more than one year, although many
users address it through proxy server or by VPN. On October 17,
IMDb launched original video (www.imdb.com/20) in celebration of
its 20th anniversary.
Actors, crew, and industry executives can post their own resume and
upload photos of themselves for a yearly fee. This fee gives them
membership in IMDbPro. IMDbPro can be accessed by anyone willing to
pay the fee, which is $19.99 USD per month, or if paid annually,
$149.99. Membership enables a user to access the rank order of each
industry personality, as well as agent contact information for any
actor, producer, director etc. that has an
IMDb page. Enrolling in
IMDbPro for industry personnel, enables those members the ability to
upload a head shot to open their page, as well as the ability to
upload hundreds of photos to accompany their page. Anyone can register
IMDb user and contribute to the site as well as view its
content, however those users enrolled in IMDbPro have greater access
On January 26, 2006, "Full Episode Support" came online, allowing the
database to support separate cast and crew listings for each episode
of every television series. This increased the number of titles in the
database from 485,000 to nearly 755,000.
On October 2, 2007, the characters' filmography was
added. Character entries are created from character listings in the
main filmography database, and as such do not need any additional
IMDb staff. They have already been verified when they
are added to the main filmography.
On September 15, 2008, a feature was added that enables instant
viewing of over 6,000 movies and television shows from CBS, Sony and a
number of independent film makers, with direct links from their
profiles. Due to licensing restrictions, this feature is available
only to viewers in the United States.
Content and format
Data provided by subjects
IMDb introduced its "
Résumé Subscription Service", where
actors and crew can post their own résumé and upload photos of
themselves for a yearly fee. The base annual charge for
including a photo with an account was $39.95 until 2010, when it was
increased to $54.95.
IMDb résumé pages are kept on a sub-page of the
regular entry about that person, with a regular entry automatically
created for each résumé subscriber who does not already have
As of 2012, Resume Services is now included as part of an IMDbPro
subscription, and is no longer offered as a separate subscription
Copyright, vandalism and error issues
All volunteers who contribute content to the database technically
retain copyright on their contributions but the compilation of the
content becomes the exclusive property of
IMDb with the full right to
copy, modify, and sublicense it and they are verified before
posting. Credit is not given on specific title or filmography
pages to the contributor(s) who have provided information. Conversely,
a credited text entry, such as a plot summary, may be corrected for
content, grammar, sentence structure, perceived omission or error, by
other contributors without having to add their names as co-authors.
Due to the time required for processing submitted data or text before
it is displayed,
IMDb is different from user-contributed projects like
OpenStreetMap in that contributors cannot add,
delete, or modify the data or text on impulse, and the manipulation of
data is controlled by
IMDb technology and salaried staff.
IMDb has been subject to deliberate additions of false information; in
2012 a spokesperson said: "We make it easy for users and professionals
to update much of our content, which is why we have an 'edit page.'
The data that is submitted goes through a series of consistency checks
before it goes live. Given the sheer volume of the information,
occasional mistakes are inevitable, and, when reported, they are
promptly fixed. We always welcome corrections."
The Java Movie Database (JMDB) is reportedly creating an
IMDb_Error.log file that lists all the errors found while processing
IMDb plain text files. A Wiki alternative to
IMDb is Open Media
Database whose content is also contributed by users but licensed
under CC-by and the GFDL. Since 2007,
IMDb has been experimenting with
wiki-programmed sections for complete film synopses, parental guides,
and FAQs about titles as determined by (and answered by) individual
Data format and access
IMDb does not provide an API for automated queries. However, most of
the data can be downloaded as compressed plain text files and the
information can be extracted using the command-line interface tools
provided. There is also a Java-based graphical user interface
(GUI) application available that is able to process the compressed
plain text files, which allows a search and a display of the
information. This GUI application supports different languages,
but the movie related data are in English, as made available by IMDb.
A Python package called IMDbPY can also be used to process the
compressed plain text files into a number of different
enabling easier access to the entire dataset for searching or data
IMDb has sites in English as well as versions translated
completely or in part into other languages (Danish, Finnish, French,
German, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish and Romanian).
English language sites display film titles in the specified
language. Originally, IMDb's
English language sites displayed titles
according to their original country-of-origin language, however, in
IMDb began allowing individual users in the UK and USA to choose
primary title display by either the original-language titles, or the
US or UK release title (normally, in English).
User ratings of films
As one adjunct to data, the
IMDb offers a rating scale that allows
users to rate films on a scale of one to ten. It has been alleged that
the rating system is flawed, for several reasons.
IMDb indicates that submitted ratings are filtered and weighted in
various ways in order to produce a weighted mean that is displayed for
each film, series, and so on. It states that filters are used to avoid
ballot stuffing; the method is not described in detail to avoid
attempts to circumvent it. In fact, it sometimes produces an extreme
difference between the weighted average and the arithmetic mean.
IMDb Top 250 is a list of the top rated 250 films, based on
ratings by the registered users of the website using the methods
described. As of 30 September 2017[update], The Shawshank
Redemption is #1 on the list. The 'top 250' rating is based on
only the ratings of "regular voters". The number of votes a registered
user would have to make to be considered as a user who votes regularly
has been kept secret.
IMDb has stated that to maintain the
effectiveness of the top 250 list they "deliberately do not disclose
the criteria used for a person to be counted as a regular voter".
In addition to other weightings, the top 250 films are also based on a
weighted rating formula referred to in actuarial science as a
credibility formula. This label arises because a statistic is
taken to be more credible the greater the number of individual pieces
of information; in this case from eligible users who submit ratings.
Though the current formula is not disclosed,
IMDb originally used the
following formula to calculate their weighted rating:
displaystyle W= frac Rv+Cm v+m
= weighted rating
= average for the movie as a number from 1 to 10 (mean) = (Rating)
= number of votes for the movie = (votes)
= minimum votes required to be listed in the Top 250 (currently
= the mean vote across the whole report (currently 7.0)
in this formula is equivalent to a Bayesian posterior mean (See
IMDb also has a Bottom 100 feature which is assembled through a
similar process although only 1500 votes must be received to qualify
for the list.
The top 250 list comprises a wide range of feature films, including
major releases, cult films, independent films, critically acclaimed
films, silent films and non-
English language films. Short films and TV
episodes are not included.
Since 2015, there has been a Top 250 list devoted to ranking
Beginning in 2001, the Internet Movie Database also maintained message
boards for every title (excepting, as of 2013, TV episodes) and
name entry, along with over 140 main boards. This began in 2001. In
order to post on the message boards a user needed to "authenticate"
their account via cell phone, credit card, or by having been a recent
customer of the parent company Amazon.com. Message boards expanded in
recent years. The Soapbox started in 1999 as a general message board
meant for debates on any subjects. The Politics board started in 2007
was a message board to discuss politics, news events, and current
affairs, as well as history and economics.
As of February 20, 2017, all the message boards and their content have
been permanently removed. According to the website, the decision was
made because the boards were "no longer providing a positive, useful
experience for the vast majority of our more than 250 million monthly
Col Needham also mentioned in a post some months
earlier that the boards received less income from ads, and that their
members only made up a very small part of the website's visitors. The
boards were costly to run due to the system's age and dated design,
which did not make business sense. The decision to remove the
message boards was met with outspoken backlash across the web and on
social media, and sparked an online petition garnering over 8,000
signatures. In the days leading up to February 20, 2017, both
Archive.org and MovieChat.org preserved the entire contents of
IMDb message boards using web scraping technologies.
In 2011, in the case of Hoang v. Amazon.com,
IMDb was sued by an
anonymous actress for more than US$1,000,000 due to IMDb's revealing
her age (40, at the time). The actress claimed that revealing her
age could cause her to lose acting opportunities. Judge Marsha J.
Pechman, a U.S. district judge in Seattle, dismissed the lawsuit,
saying the actress had no grounds to proceed with an anonymous
complaint. The actress re-filed and so revealed that she was Huong
Hoang of Texas, who uses the stage name Junie Hoang. In 2013,
Pechman dismissed all causes of action except for a breach of contract
claim against IMDb; a jury then sided with
IMDb on that claim. The
Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court
judgment in March 2015.
Also in 2011, in the case of United Video Properties Inc., et al. v.
Amazon.Com Inc. et al.,
IMDb and Amazon were sued by Rovi
Corporation and others for patent infringement over their various
program listing offerings. The patent claims were ultimately
construed in a way favorable to
IMDb and Rovi/United Video Properties
lost the case, though as of November 2014 it is on appeal.
On January 1, 2017, the State of California implemented state bill
AB-1687, a SAG-AFTRA-backed anti-ageism statute which requires
"commercial online entertainment employment services" to honor
requests by their subscribers for their ages and birthdays to be
hidden. On February 23, 2017, Judge Vince Girdhari Chhabria issued
a stay on the bill pending a further trial, claiming that it possibly
violated the First Amendment because it inhibited the public
consumption of factual information. He also questioned the intent of
the bill, as it was ostensibly meant to target IMDb.
As of the beginning of 2017,
IMDb has received 2,300 requests from
individuals to remove their date of birth from the site. Included in
this group were 10
Academy Award winners and another 71 who’ve been
nominated for Oscars, Emmys, or Golden Globes.
AllMusic – a similar database, but for music
All Media Network – a commercial database launched by the Rovi
Corporation that compiles information from the former services
AllMovie and AllMusic
Big Cartoon DataBase
DBCult Film Institute
Internet Adult Film Database
Internet Movie Cars Database
Internet Movie Cars Database (IMCDb)
Internet Movie Firearms Database
Internet Movie Firearms Database (IMFDb)
Internet Book Database (IBookDb)
Internet Broadway Database
Internet Broadway Database (IBDb)
Internet Off-Broadway Database (IOBDb)
Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDb)
Internet Theatre Database (ITDb)
List of films considered the best
List of films considered the worst
television in the United Kingdom portal
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Wikidata has the property:
IMDb ID (P345) (see talk; uses)
IMDb – official site
winner, 1997 award in the category Film
winner, 1998 award in the category Film
winner, 1999 award in the category Film
List of winners
Digital Photography Review
Box Office Mojo
Product Advertising API
Amazon Digital Game Store
Amazon Game Studios
Double Helix Games
Breakthrough Novel Award
Best Books of the Year
Kindle Direct Publishing
Whole Foods Market
Amazon Prime Air
Amie Street (Songza)
Perfect 10, Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc.
Statistically improbable phrase
List of Amazon brands
List of Amazon locations
List of mergers and acquisitions by Amazon
List of Amazon products and services