IMDb.com, the website you go to in order to find out who acted in what film, no matter how obscure, turns 20 next month. In addition to its extensive and unmatched database, the site was overhauled this week to emphasise video clips and help fans find what they'd like to see next.
The goal of the relaunch is to “help people make viewing decisions” and “emphasise the visual nature of film and TV,” said Col Needham, the site's 43-year-old British founder and chief executive. Trailers and ticket information are now much more prominent.
The service started out quite differently. On October 17, 1990, the Internet Movie Database was born as Needham posted what was literally a database program that people had to install on their computers. Users could sift through the published credits for all the movies he and a bunch of friends had seen. It was decidedly low-tech, and definitely not commercial.
“We ran as a group of people who just were passionate about film and TV and were sharing that love and knowledge of film and TV with people throughout the world,” he said. “Actually we predate the Web itself.”
Needham sold the site to Amazon.com Inc. in April 1998, right around the time Amazon.com began selling movies.
Today, the site is one of the largest movie sites in the US, with 25.6 million unique visitors in August, according to comScore Inc. That ranked it No 1 above Yahoo with 24.3 million and Fandango with 13.4 million. Needham said the site has 100 million monthly visitors worldwide. He still runs it from Bristol, England, but flies to Amazon's headquarters in Seattle once a month.
IMDb.com is populated with ads and links to buy and rent movies from Amazon.com and Blockbuster.com. It also sells a premium subscription called IMDbPro that gets industry insiders contact information, for example, with the agents of the actual stars.
The site is touting a round of original interviews with A-list stars, mobile device applications and social networking functions to “get the next 100 million” users, Needham said.