Internet Movie Database

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Internet Movie Database
Website logo
Online - Movie - TV - and computer games - database
languages In the beginning only English ; from 2008 also German , later others, u. a. French , Hungarian , Italian , Polish , Portuguese , Romanian , Turkish and Spanish
editorial staff Col Needham
Registration Optional
On-line October 17, 1990 (currently active)

The Internet Movie Database ( IMDb , "Internet Filmdatenbank") is a database of films , television series , video productions and computer games as well as about people who have contributed to them. In June 2020 there were entries for over 6.67 million film productions (including 4.8 million television episodes) and over 10.4 million film and television professionals. The database is operated by .

The use of the basic version is free of charge; for a fee, IMDbPro offers additional information (including current statistics on game revenues, access statistics and agent contacts ).


The database collects data from cinema, video and television films as well as computer games that have been produced since the beginning of cinematography . A large part of the cinema films of the western world is already represented in the database, whereas there are gaps, especially in television productions. In contrast to similar projects, pornographic productions are also archived. Information and profiles on films or filmmakers can be created by users (after prior registration). These are cross-checked by the editors and usually published after a few days or weeks. However, not all published information is necessarily correct.

You can search for films as well as for people, film characters, quotes, within biographies and (using various advanced searches) for many other details. The scope of the information offered depends on the familiarity of the films and people, or on how much material has been submitted to IMDb by interested people. Since Hollywood films and stars are best known worldwide, there is usually a lot of information about them.

Visitors can give ratings to films, which are then evaluated according to a system based on Bayesian probability distribution . On the one hand, an average value for the film is calculated from five votes cast, and on the other hand, a list of the 250 (in the IMDbPro version 500) best and 100 worst films is created using a further calculation system. Since July 2006 it is no longer only possible to rate films, but also TV series and individual episodes.

The website used to be offered at with a German-language navigation that also took German film titles into account. From November 2008 the German version,, was considerably slimmed down, and language versions in French and Italian , later versions in Polish , Portuguese , Romanian , Spanish , Turkish and Hungarian were added. The non-English-language data sets usually contained only a few basic information for each film and only masked out additional information available in English, such as summaries of content, film errors, awards, links to trailers and other menu items. In February 2013, the non-English language versions of the site were abolished. The reason given for this was that they wanted to provide every user with the great variety of information and functions that the English-language site offers. An international version provides the distribution titles for each film in all languages ​​recorded.

In 2007 two major innovations were introduced in the IMDb. Detailed questions can be discussed in a section called FAQ . Similar to a wiki, these are presented in real time without an editorial review and complement the already offered program of discussion forums. Character pages can also be created. Here you can collect the film data of real characters (e.g. Gaius Iulius Caesar ) or fictional characters (e.g. James Bond ) on a page based on the biographical articles and write biographies as well as quotations and trivia. These data are added relatively quickly. The IMDb specifies a waiting time of six hours for this.


The origin of the IMDb lies in the newsgroup rec.arts.movies, a discussion platform for film enthusiasts. Well before 1990, some participants began to keep lists of actors , directors and other things and to publish them regularly via rec.arts.movies. In October 1990 these hand-kept lists contained over 23,000 entries, which Col Needham brought together and made searchable with the help of a few programs - the result was the Internet Movie Database: Episode I - The Text-Only Unix Version . The system was hardly comparable to today's. Back then, each user had to copy the entire database to their own computer in order to be able to use it.

In 1994 the database became accessible via email . Shortly afterwards, the first web version took shape.

The increasing number of users and data made it necessary in 1996 for the private IMDb project to be converted into a company amid heated debates for / against commercialization. The company was owned by those who had previously kept the lists. Working on the IMDb and for the Internet Movie Database, Ltd. They mostly did it alongside school, studies and work.

By 1998, the size of the IMDb had doubled compared to 1996, and the resource requirements threatened to exceed the possibilities of its part-time and practically unpaid owners. Because of the fear that the project would be broken down into its components, several offers to buy were initially rejected. In 1998 the IMDb went to the Internet mail order company . Jeff Bezos , Founder, Owner, and CEO of bought the IMDb from Col Needham and other key database staff to incorporate it as a sub-brand within Amazon. This deal gave the IMDb the ability to pay employees a salary on the database, while used the database as an advertising platform for the sale of DVDs and videotapes.

The IMDbPro subscription was launched on January 15, 2002 and offers additional information on film productions, box office results and a company directory. Some information is no longer available in the IMDb without a subscription, for example the entry of the computer animation studio Pixar .

From 2003 users who were among the “Top 100 contributors” of facts received free access to IMDbPro for the following calendar year . In 2006 this was expanded to include the top 150 contributors and in 2010 to the top 250.

Since the beginning of 2004, the IMDb can no longer be expanded by e-mail , but can only be edited by registered users via the website.

In 2008 IMDb launched, its first official foreign language version. In the same year the film database acquired the two companies Withoutabox and Box Office Mojo .

The roots of the IMDb can still be seen today. The database still lives to a large extent from the participation of the online community and continues to give the majority of its holdings back to the community free of charge, not only via the portal page, but also most of it in the form of raw data.

In 2016, the State of California passed a law clearly tailored to the IMDb. After that, websites are no longer allowed to give age information about natural persons if the person works in the entertainment industry. This is to counter age discrimination in Hollywood. The IMDb has therefore brought a lawsuit against the California Justice Minister Kamala Harris . On February 22, 2017, a court ruled that the law violated freedom of speech . The California government has also failed to demonstrate that the law is suitable for combating age discrimination. Therefore, the law cannot be enforced until the final decision. The U.S. Federal District Court for Northern California ruled the law unconstitutional in 2018.

Reviews in the IMDb

Votes required for the top 250
Period Number of votes
1996-1998 00.200
1998-2000 00.400
2000-2001 00.750
2001-2005 01,250
2005-2009 01,300
2009-2009 01,500
2009–2012 03,000
since 2012 25,000

Registered users can rate all films with one to ten points. If there are at least five ratings, an average value is published. If many more people have given a rating, the film can appear in the ranking of the 250 best (with a minimum of 25,000 votes) or 100 worst (with a minimum of 10,000 votes) films if the number of points is sufficiently high - or lower. These lists exist globally for all films and for film genres (including documentaries, war films, dramas, comedies, fantasy and horror). In the lists for special film genres, the fifty best and ten worst films of the respective genre are listed. You can also see on the personal articles under "sorted by rating" how well the films of a director or an actor fare against each other.

Which films make it into the top 250 is decided according to the following procedure: First, all films are sorted out that have less than the (arbitrarily) specified minimum number of votes (see table). Furthermore, short films, episodes of series or other non-approved genres are sorted out (for example, no documentaries are allowed in the top 250). Each of the remaining films is now given a rating. This is calculated from the ratings given by the users, but is not the pure average. Through a special procedure, the ratings given by “ regular voters ” should come into their own better. The exact procedure is kept secret by the IMDb in order to prevent possible manipulation. Therefore, the rating calculated here can differ from the average rating displayed on the IMDb page of the corresponding film. The films are now sorted in descending order according to the calculated rating. The first 250 films of this sort make up the Top 250. The IMDb does not specify the method for calculating the rating, but for the films in the Top 250 it does give the result, the rating itself. If a film is outside of the top 250, the rating will be kept secret. As a result, it is difficult to gauge how far a particular film is from actually making the Top 250. As a rule, however, the average rating and rating differ by significantly less than one rating point. At the bottom of the top 250, the films have a rating of 8.0 and an average rating of 8.0 to 8.2. If one arranges the films approved for the top 250 according to the average rating and looks at the first 250 films with regard to this sorting, one finds that the films on this list correspond to 90% with the films in the top 250 (status: October 2, 2014) . The missing 25 films (10%) can be found in places 251 to 308. The best film by average rating that is not in the top 250 is in 80th place in the list just described, is called Chak De! India - An unbeatable team and has an average rating of 8.4 with over 28,000 votes. Its rating is not known, but because the film does not appear in the top 250 it can be at best 8.0. Due to the pure restriction to films with more than 25,000 ratings, non-English-language films and older films, both of which usually have fewer ratings, are comparatively much rarer in the list.

The top 500 are displayed in the payment version of the website, IMDbPro .

The discussion forums were discontinued by IMDb on February 20, 2017. The reason given was that the forums did not represent a positive or useful experience for the vast majority of the more than 250 million monthly users.

Similar projects

Further projects have been created based on the IMDb model. The Internet Movie Cars Database (IMCDb) has existed since 2004 , in which motor vehicles shown in films are listed on the basis of still images and identified by properties such as make, model and model year. Unlike the IMDb, the IMCDb does not include computer and video games - the Fork Internet Game Cars Database (IGCD) was set up for this purpose in 2006 . The Internet Movie Firearms Database (IMFDb), which was launched in 2007, lists the firearms used in films and video games, but, unlike the IMCDb, is structured as a wiki . In addition, the Internet Movie Plane Database (IMPDb) has existed since 2009 as a wiki about aircraft and helicopters used. A selection of movie scripts lists the Internet Movie Script Database (IMSDb) on. The Internet Adult Film Database was created for porn films and their actors .


According to Alexa, ranks 62nd among the most popular websites on the Internet.

See also

Web links


  1. When the change took place between 200 and 400 cannot be clearly reconstructed. However, it must have taken place in January 1998 or earlier.
  2. In December 2016 there were just over 4,000 films (as of December 23, 2016), see IMDb: Feature Films With At Least 25,000 Votes. (English).

Individual evidence

  1. ^ IMDb Database Statistics. In: IMDb., Inc., accessed January 1, 2020 .
  2. cf. - add film profiles. (English).
  3. cf. - create personal profiles. (English).
  4. Press Release: Acquires Three Leading Internet Companies. Amazon, April 27, 1998, accessed February 9, 2019 (English, press release).
  5. Internet Bookseller Announces Acquisition Of United Kingdom Company The Internet Movie Database Ltd. In: PR Newswire Association LLC. Internet Movie Database, archived from the original on June 3, 2012 ; accessed on December 3, 2015 .
  6. Pixar (subscription required)
  7. heise online: California: IMDB is supposed to suppress age information . Retrieved October 28, 2018.
  8. . Retrieved October 28, 2018.
  9. heise online: Amazon subsidiary is suing age discrimination law . Retrieved October 28, 2018.
  10. Josh Gerstein: Judge blocks California law limiting publication of actors' ages. In: Politico . Capitol News Company, February 22, 2017, accessed February 24, 2017 .
  11. heise online: Freedom of speech v. Age discrimination: IMDB is allowed to name age . Retrieved October 28, 2018.
  12. IMDb Users: IMDb Top Rated Movies . Retrieved October 28, 2018.
  13. Discontinuation of forum operations. Archived from the original on February 13, 2017 ; accessed on October 28, 2018 .
  14. IMCDb .org: Internet Movie Cars Database . Retrieved October 28, 2018.
  15. Internet Game Cars Database . Retrieved August 12, 2020.
  16. Internet Movie Firearms Database (English)
  17. Internet Movie PlaneDatabase (English)
  18. ^ The Internet Movie Script Database (IMSDb). Retrieved August 26, 2019 .
  19. Competitive Analysis, Marketing Mix and Traffic - Alexa . Retrieved May 27, 2020.