Type of site
|Social networking service for films|
|Created by||Matthew Buchanan|
Karl von Randow
Letterboxd is an online social networking service co-founded by Matthew Buchanan and Karl von Randow in 2011. It was launched as a social app focused on sharing opinions about, and love of, film, and is maintained by a small team in Auckland, New Zealand. The site is meant for sharing its members' tastes in films. Members can use it as a diary to record their opinions about films, keep track of films they have seen in the past, write reviews or make lists of films and showcase their favorite films, as well as meet and interact with other cinephiles. Films can be rated, reviewed, included in a list and tagged with relevant keywords. The 100 millionth film was marked as watched on the site on May 15, 2017, six years after launch. As of February 28, 2021, members have marked over 600 million films as being watched.
While Letterboxd is not regularly in the headlines as a community or service, it has gained steady, organic popularity and dedicated users over the years. In an article for The Ringer, film critic Scott Tobias called Letterboxd "the safest space for film discussion we've got" due to its community and discussion-based model in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. A January 2021 New York Times article reported Letterboxd "has seen its user base nearly double since the beginning of the pandemic", having "more than 3 million member accounts... up from 1.7 million at this time last year."
The site was launched at Brooklyn Beta in October 2011, and attracted more than 17,000 beta testers over the next six months. It transitioned from private to public beta on 24 April 2012, with all pages becoming publicly visible. Membership remained invitation-only until 8 February 2013, when it was opened for public use. The site also introduced a tiered structure, with both free membership and paid memberships which allowed access to multiple features including personalized "Year in Review" pages.
In September 2020 Letterboxd announced a new membership tier for film-related organizations—from festivals to arthouse theaters to podcasts— to participate with tools better suited than the individual-oriented basic profile. This new feature, called Letterboxd HQ, caused the site to gain popularity with its new audience, with organisations like IndieWire, TIFF, and the Criterion Channel emerging to engage with the community.
Anyone can read content on the site. An account is required for users who want to participate. All members can rate films, review films and tag them with relevant keywords. They may also maintain lists of films they have watched or want to watch, and interact with other members. Lists can be made public or private to the user. Ratings follow the five-star system, with half-stars also allowed. A follower model enables members to follow along with the activity of others on the site.
There are two paid membership tiers for individuals.
Pro membership includes:
- No third-party ads
- Personalized "Year in Review" stat pages
- Personalized "All-Time" stats page
- Activity feed filtering
- Filtering by streaming service
- Pinned reviews
- Username modification
- List cloning/duplication
Patron membership includes all Pro features as well as the following:
- The Patron's profile page includes a backdrop of their favorite film (the first one listed, if available).
- Priority access to test new features including beta versions and iPhone app by request.
- Patron's name appears on the Patrons Page.
Showdown is a fortnightly challenge where users can submit their top movie titles that match the criteria of the given topic. A list of the most mentioned films for each topic is released every second Thursday after 8pm PT and subsequently, a new topic is announced.
Letterboxd has a 'News+Editorial' section that features articles related to new film releases, interviews with high-profile Letterboxd members and annual reviews. Additionally, the site also promotes 'The Letterboxd Show', a podcast hosted by Letterboxd editor-in-chief Gemma Gracewood.
All film-related metadata used on the website, including actor, director and studio names, synopses, release dates, trailers and poster art is supplied by The Movie Database (TMDb). Because of the high annual fees for using IMDb's data, the developers decided to opt for TMDb instead, which is openly crowdsourced. They partnered with Justwatch.com to include online viewing options for films in September 2019.
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- Buchanan, Matthew (9 February 2013). "Matthew's answer to 'What's the story behind Letterboxd?'". Co-founder at Letterboxd (2010-present). Retrieved 8 March 2019.
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- Letterboxd – official site