Web Magazine for Information Professionals

Around the Table: Film and Cinema

Frank Parry discusses some of the many possible sources for Internet information on film and cinema.

For many, love of the world of film can be an all-consuming passion. There are literally thousands of sites to visit. Because of the very nature of this subject, however, many sites will be content-rich and patience in downloading information may be the order of the day.

Making a start: the major players

A good place to start is the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) [1]. Its primary function is to give information about individual films - cast, crew, production details etc. with hot jumps to biographical and other related information. The extent of its filmic referencing system means that IMDb is fast becoming the default site for authoritative information. IMDb also provides useful links to other sites.

Screenshot of the results of an IMDB search

Screenshot of the results of an IMDb search

There are three other sites worthy of note in this category. Each has its strengths and weaknesses and there is much overlapping of content. Yahoo’s Entertainment: Movies and Films [2] provides an extensive subject listing of notable sites including - at the last count - 2663 on actors and actresses alone! CineMedia [3] does very much the same job though it is noticeably better at listing organisations. Omnibus-Eye [4] claims to be the best media index on the web. It certainly contains a very impressive index of film sites - though while checking some I found quite a few defunct addresses - and is comprehensively indexed and cross-referenced with good search facilities. It is geared more to the academic and professional user than the other major sites. This is reflected in the prominence that subjects such as film history, education, museums, bibliographies, industry and production is given.

Magazines and News

CineMedia [3] offers the best index in this category, although, as in the other categories, you may have to cross-refer to the other major players. Yahoo [2] rather oddly divides its listings between journals and magazines. Perhaps more appropriately we can make a division between those which are designed for the web and those which are, by and large, designed as tasters for a print version. Empire [5], Premiere [6] and Flicks [7] are all fine examples of taster magazines advertising a print product. It can appear that in some respects the web version scores above the print. Reviews are posted more frequently, film news, gossip and business is pretty much as it happens, all offer links to other sites and Flicks and Empire offer such titbits of information as top grossing films, what’s showing at local cinemas etc. Entertainment Weekly Online [8] is also a taster magazine but with far greater full-text content. It also has links to business information, news and extensive archive material. Images [9] is a fine example of a web magazine with a good mixture of scholarly articles and reviews. Other magazines, such as the well-respected Film Culture [10] offer very little other than subscriber information, although it does provide a few extracts and a full index of articles dating back to 1955 which could prove useful for the researcher. Specialist magazines are also well catered for. Hong Kong Film Magazine [11] and Bollywood Pictures [12] are good examples. The Journal of Film Preservation [13] has full text articles and is an excellent scholarly journal. As can be expected, most news services are heavily American based. The Hollywood Reporter [14] offers a daily news service with archives. It does, however, also cover news from farther afield than its name suggests.

Reviews, Film Finders and Cinemas

Review sites leave the user spoilt for choice. Current films can be found in Empire [5], Flicks [7] and the Movie Emporium [15] which also has an archive of older reviews. Films are normally released in America sooner than anywhere else. This means that you are likely to find a good choice of reviews before a particular film has even reached Europe. The Movie Review Query Engine [16] for instance, lists 66 reviews for the English Patient, almost a month before its UK release. IMDb [1] contains links to reviews and critical studies. Since this is a site with an historical bias, there is plenty of scope to build up a decent archive of reviews. ‘What’s showing’ sites are common world-wide. IMDb has a country by country index. In the UK, Yell’s Film Finder [17] gives regional information and also uses the Yellow Pages database to suggest other local services such as taxis, restaurants, pubs. It is not so good on the independent cinema scene. For this you might like to try Freepages [18]. Many independents are developing their own sites. The Metro in Derby [19] is one example and there is a homepage for the National Film Theatre [20] which so far, however, doesn’t give any programme information.

Film Studios, Business, Organisations and Education

All the sites mentioned in the major players category have good links here. As film companies open, merge, expand or fold the amount of information is likely to change. Historically, little except current wares are promoted, although some with large back catalogues like Sony [21] advertise classic collections. For history you could try the appropriate category in Omnibus-Eye [4]. Some sites are better than others but you have to remind yourself that these are all commercial sites with businesses to run! Of these, the prize for the homepage with the most tie-ins must surely go to Disney [22]. Many sites provide sound or video clips. Again, Sony [21] is a good example. However, if you do not have the right equipment or a bank balance capable of paying for downloading time, you might want to skip these optional extras. Omnibus-Eye [4] has good links to industry, business and education as does Yahoo [2] to a lesser extent. Movienet [23] has something called Film Finders Buzz which gives excellent film industry news, company and personality profiles. It also provides substantial information on the European film scene. Entertainment Weekly Online [8] is also useful here. IMDb provides a section on business on each individual film which relates to the amount of money each film makes at the box office. Movie Ticket Sales [24] does pretty much the same though with slightly more information and on a wider historical scale. Ecran Noir [25] is a French Canadian site with worldwide coverage. It is patchy, however, and tends to concentrate on the top films. CineMedia [3] has a good page of links to organisations. The American Film Institute [26] - which plays host to CineMedia - has an excellent homepage. The British Film Institute [27] has a page though it is still under construction. For an understanding of how the American film industry regulates itself and how film companies are expected to behave, take a look at the Motion Picture Association of America [28]. The Directory of Film, Video, Communication Schools and Programs [29] contains probably the best directory of its kind.

Individual Films and Fan Pages

IMDb [1] is again the standard bearer for information on individual film information. It normally contains links to both official and unofficial sites. The entry for Alien, for example, contains links to studio pages, scripts and well thought-out fan sites. The studios are increasingly providing behind-the-scenes glimpses at the making of new releases. The remastered Star Wars trilogy [30] and Bound [31] are interesting examples. Usenet and mailing lists are useful for keeping up to date with emerging new sites. Yahoo [2] and Omnibus-Eye [4] both make recommendations for the best newsgroups to scan.

Awards and Festivals

IMDb [1] has a link to known forthcoming festivals, but as sites often change from year to year, you will need to return to this source at regular intervals. Elsewhere, the best and most comprehensive site is the Film Festivals Server [32]. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences [33] is probably the most well-known awards organisation. Yahoo’s awards category has a link to BAFTA which turns out to be BAFTA Cymru [34] - the ‘English’ version is also worth visiting! [35]


[1] Internet Movie Database,

[2] Yahoo! Entertainment: Movies and Films,

[3] CineMedia,

[4] Omnibus-Eye,

[5] Empire Web site,

[6] Premiere Web site,

[7] Flicks Web site,

[8] Entertainment Weekly,

[9] Images: a Journal of Film and Popular Culture,

[10] Film Culture Web site,

[11] Hong Kong Film Magazine,

[12] Underground Network (Bollywood Pictures),

[13] Journal of Film Preservation,

[14] Hollywood Reporter Web site,

[15] Movie Emporium Web site,

[16] Movie Review Web site,

[17] Film Finder Web site,

[18] Freepages Web site,

[19] Metro Cinema Web site,

[20] National Film Theatre Web site,

[21] Sony movie Web site,

[22] Disney Web site,

[23] Movienet Web site,

[24] Movie Ticket Sales,

[25] Ecran Noir Web site,

[26] American Film Institute Web site,

[27] British Film Institute Web site,

[28] Motion Picture Association of America Web site,

[29] Directory of Film, Video, Communication Schools and Programs,

[30] Star Wars Web site,

[31] Bound Web site,

[32] Film Festivals Web site,

[33] Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science,

[34] BAFTA Cymru Web site,

[35] BAFTA Web site,

Author Details

Frank Parry,
Academic Librarian,
Loughborough University
Email: F.Parry@lboro.ac.uk