When people think of movie and television database sites, chances are the first one that comes to mind is IMDb. There is no denying the cultural impact that IMDb has had over the years. It is, for many, the premier source for learning more about movies and TV series, reading and leaving reviews, and learning about new and upcoming releases. In some respects, you could say that IMDb is the Wikipedia of film and TV info.
But what if I told you that there is a site that offers everything that IMDb offers, and then some? That is exactly what The Movie Database is. It takes everything that we know and love about IMDb one step further. By combining a nearly comprehensive movie database with social media elements and free streaming. If someone you knew said that they were going to create a site that was to be in direct competition with IMDb, you would probably say they were nuts, right? Well, The Movie Database is proof that IMDb is not the be-all, end-all of movie archives … this site is the answer to all of IMDb’s shortcomings.
It would be one thing if The Movie Database simply presented a better-looking, more intuitive, and more user-friendly film and television database (which it does, by the way). That, in my opinion, could have been enough. But The Movie Database exceeds all expectations. It transforms everything that I once thought a media database could be.
According to a growing number of film and TV fans around the world, The Movie Database is the single best movie database on the web. It may come off as a bit of a cocky move at first, but it seems as if they have earned the right to call themselves the movie database … this site has the potential to unseat IMDb in popularity. And, personally, I am rooting for them to do just that.
One of the site’s most unique and useful features lies in the fact that it is community-oriented. This is, yet again, a somewhat missed opportunity that IMDb never did really take advantage of. Anyone who has read a few of my reviews knows by now that I am a huge fan of when sites incorporate elements of social media. I think that it is the very nature of the internet to be collaborative and communal. So, if your site is not embracing that very human element of the web, as far as I’m concerned, no matter what category your site falls under, you are more than likely going to be superseded by a site that does.
I also love the fact that The Movie Database has chosen to embrace streaming full-length movies and TV shows. Well, actually, that is not an entirely accurate statement. I, too, was misled when I first visited the site because there is a section entitled “Free to Watch.” However, clicking on a movie will not enable you to stream that movie directly on The Movie Database. Instead, the site informs you of which streaming services have it available, as well as a comprehensive list of where to rent or buy it.
Nonetheless, this is still another example of how The Movie Database one-ups IMDb. And these are far from the only features that dwarf the giant of online movie databases if you ask me. In nearly every area for evaluation, The Movie Database makes IMDb look amateurish. But will this site be enough to convert you as well?
There is only one way to find out … let us delve into The Movie Database and take a closer look at everything that the site has to offer, where it excels, where it falls short, and what you can expect from it. Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to The Movie Database.
The Movie Database project was put into place by a man named Travis Bell in 2008. It was originally intended to just collect and archive movie posters. The original archive began as a donation from the Open Media Database (OMDB) project. The Movie Database, however, quickly grew in aspiration and scope. By the end of the 2010s, The Movie Database sought to place itself in direct competition with IMDb and was available on the media center application, Kodi.
In 2010, Bell sold The Movie Database to Fan TV. However, the agreement explicitly stated that Bell would continue managing the operation. The site has grown exponentially over the last 12 years. At the start of 2015, for example, the database contained 234,000 films and 583,000 people. By now, in 2020, I wouldn’t be surprised if those numbers hadn’t come close to doubling.
The design of The Movie Database was the first thing that really stood out to me when I visited the site. I have always had some qualms with the design of IMDb, so, when I happened upon the clean, intuitive, sleek, and modern look of The Movie Database, I was hooked. The site looks great.
A good analogy, I think, for the site’s design would be to say that it looks like a premium streaming service itself. The site is sectioned off clearly, and titles are easy to browse. The Movie Database would be an excellent resource for not only learning more about your favorite films, shows, and figures but to discover new ones as well, thanks to the intuitive nature of the site and how simple it is to browse content.
Speaking of browsing, the site offers plenty of ways to look for content. Browse broadly by clicking one of the sparse site menu options (movies, TV, or more), or scroll down the home page and browse by genre and category. The Movie Database allows you to find titles by What’s Popular, Free to Watch, Latest Trailers, and Trending.
Another design element that I love, by the way, is the fact that each section header comes with an intuitive selection of tabs to filter by content type (movies or TV, for example, while other sections let you automatically filter by Rent, Buy, in Theaters, etc.). This site is ideal in terms of how it is structured and organized.
Content and Features
So, naturally, The Movie Database allows you to browse movies and TV shows, each of which comes complete with a cast list, reviews, trailers, movie posters, community discussions, a user score, and recommendations. Like I implied earlier, this site is everything that I want IMDb to be.
Content on the site, too, is peer-reviewed, a la Wikipedia. This makes for a very involved, engaged, and passionate userbase of film and TV buffs. Users can suggest edits to clarify or correct information, leave reviews, and discuss titles, resulting in something of a quasi-subreddit for fans (or haters, I suppose) of every movie, show, and figure on the site. Members of The Movie Database are incentivized (beyond just their passion for movies and TV) by having the chance to appear on the site’s leaderboard, where top contributors are honored.
In addition to functioning as a film and TV database and an extremely convenient way to browse and discover new content and find out where to stream, rent, or buy movies and shows, The Movie Database also has a massive forums section, as well as a comprehensive list of mobile apps for streaming content (not that you’ll need this, of course, since you already have Streamingsites.com for that : ).
Mobile and Desktop Experience
Perhaps my only complaint with regards to this site is the fact that it does not appear to have an app. This is a big letdown! However, no site can be perfect, and if The Movie Database did have an app that was as well-designed as its desktop site, this site would risk perfection.
On the bright side, though, the site is perfectly optimized for mobile devices. So, you should not be met with any problems if you want to browse this massive site on your smartphone or tablet. However, of course, it is always preferable, especially for a site like this, to have a dedicated mobile app … here’s to hoping they develop one soon!
Suggestions that I have for The Movie Database
Really, I think that developing an app is the only suggestion that I have for this site. Otherwise, I love The Movie Database, and I think you should stop reading this review right now and go check it out!