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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Should the IMDb be hosting official movie sites?

IMDb logo

Got this press release yesterday:

RELATIVITY MEDIA SELECTS IMDb TO HOST THE RAVEN’S OFFICIAL MOVIE WEBSITE

Collaboration Marks The First Time IMDb Has Hosted A Major Motion Picture’s Website

(Beverly Hills, Calif. and Seattle, Wash.) – April 25, 2012 – Relativity Media and IMDb (www.imdb.com), the #1 movie website in the world, today announced that IMDb is hosting the official movie website for Intrepid Pictures’ The Raven, the stylish, gothic thriller starring John Cusack as infamous author Edgar Allan Poe, releasing nationwide by Relativity Media on April 27, 2012….

This is the first time a movie studio has collaborated with IMDb to create a highly contextual, customized campaign in which IMDb’s title page serves as the official movie website for a major theatrical release. The Raven’s title page on IMDb has already amassed more than 20,000 fans that have “Liked” the film via social plugins. The Raven is currently ranked #10 on IMDb’s MOVIEmeter chart. As part of this innovative campaign, Relativity Media has driven all of The Raven’s online and offsite campaign media, including the movie trailer, to the film’s official website on IMDb which is located at: www.imdb.com/theraven.

“IMDb is the online destination for movie fans, so we were delighted to be the first to tap into their rich landscape of assets, including Amazon’s Kindle and Digital Photography Review, to execute this broad, multi-platform campaign,” said Terry Curtin, Relativity’s President, Theatrical Marketing. Curtin added, “We were able to naturally leverage IMDb’s SEO rankings, page views, authority and built-in fan base for our film and connect The Raven with its online audience.”

“We applaud Relativity for embracing innovation and being the first to collaborate with IMDb to create this new solution for the industry,” said Col Needham, founder and CEO of IMDb. “As the #1 movie website in the world, IMDb is the leader in movie search results and has quietly amassed unrivaled fan bases for every upcoming release – passionate, savvy fans who have opted in to receiving updates about the films they like. Rather than investing time and resources into building a dedicated movie website and then trying to drive fans there during the theatrical release window, we encourage studios to utilize IMDb’s film title pages as official movie websites and fan communication channels throughout the lifecycle of their films, including preproduction and theatrical, streaming, DVD and Blu-Ray release announcements.”

The Raven’s official site features exclusive content, trailers, television spots, cast interviews, photo galleries, cast and crew information, social plugins, related news, user generated lists, message boards, trivia and more.

When I read this, I worried about the IMDb morphing from a site that could basically be trusted to be neutral about films to one that might be more biased toward a particularly film. This seems to be a different case than accepting movie-related advertising on the site, and it also seems different from the fact that fans, readers, and industr pros alike are able to add or change information on any given film’s page. It seems like it’s perhaps giving too much control to a studio over what we’ve come to see as a relatively independent source of information about a given film.

Mysteriously, however, when you click on www.imdb.com/theraven all you get is the usual IMDb page with an overlay that plays a TV spot for the The Raven. Beyond that, the page seems no different from any other IMDb film page. It appears that, for all the bombast in the press release, all that’s really happened is that The Raven’s official site — there had been one at www.theravenmovie.com — has been redirected to its IMDb page.

(FYI, my review The Raven is here.)

My original concerns still stand, though. This could set a precedent for future collaborations between studios and the IMDb that do encroach more on the IMDB’s independence.

What do you think? Should the IMDb be hosting official movie sites?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



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