Letterboxd
Type of site
Social cataloging application for films
Available inEnglish
HeadquartersAuckland, New Zealand
OwnerTiny (60%)
Founder(s)
  • Matthew Buchanan
  • Karl von Randow
Key peopleGemma Gracewood (editor-in-chief)
URLletterboxd.com
CommercialYes
RegistrationOptional to view; required to use
Users10 million (September 2023)
LaunchedOctober 2011; 12 years ago (2011-10)
Current statusActive

Letterboxd (/ˈlɛtərbɒkst/ LEH-tər-bokst) is a New Zealand online social cataloging service founded by Matthew Buchanan and Karl von Randow in 2011. It advertises itself as "Goodreads for film."[1] Members can rate and review films, keep track of what films they have seen in the past and when, make lists of films and showcase their favorite films, tag films using text keywords, and meet and interact with other cinephiles.

The name "Letterboxd" is an allusion to letterboxing, the practice of placing black bars on the edges of a screen to preserve a movie's original aspect ratio.[2]

History

Development

Web designers Buchanan and von Randow launched a private version of the website at the Brooklyn Beta web conference in October 2011.[1][3] They launched an invitation-only beta version on 24 April 2012[4][5] and opened the site to the general public on 8 February 2013.[6] Until March 2020, Letterboxd did not employ any full-time personnel.[7] In September 2023, the company had 16 full-time and 12 part-time employees.[8]

In September 2023, Canadian investment company Tiny acquired a 60% majority stake in Letterboxd, valuing the company at around $50–60 million. Buchanan and von Randow continue to lead the company.[9]

Upon its acquisition, Letterboxd concurrently announced that it intended to add television shows to the site.[8] (Due to Letterboxd's reliance on outside vendor The Movie Database for its list of extant films, limited-run series and a small number of recurring series have been loggable on the site for years.[2]) Buchanan acknowledged that the decision to add TV shows has been met with some controversy by the Letterboxd community, but assured users that the introduction of television to the platform will not disrupt the current user experience.[7]

Growth

In May 2017 (six years after launch), Letterboxd users collectively logged their 100 millionth film; they reached the 1 billion mark on 19 July 2022.[10] As of 4 March 2024, users have logged over 300 movies at least one million times each, and 11 movies at least three million times each (Inception, The Dark Knight, Pulp Fiction, Parasite, Joker, Fight Club, Get Out, Interstellar, Knives Out, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, and Barbie).[11]

Letterboxd's userbase swelled during the COVID-19 pandemic. Its user count rose from 1.8 million in March 2020 to 3 million in January 2021,[1] 4.1 million in December 2021,[12] and 10 million in September 2023.[13] In September 2020, film critic Scott Tobias called Letterboxd "the safest space for film discussion we've got."[14] Arthouse and classic film organizations such as the American Cinematheque reported that once movie theaters reopened, Letterboxd helped drive younger filmgoers to visit their programs.[15]

Six films have held the title of highest-rated narrative feature on Letterboxd: The Godfather, Parasite, Everything Everywhere All at Once, Come and See, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, and Harakiri.[16] Harakiri is the current title-holder as of March 2024.[17]

Reputation

The site has a reputation (both positive and negative) for attracting cinephiles and members of "Film Twitter."[1][18][19][20][21] An internal survey conducted in late 2022 showed that Letterboxd users, on average, watched more movies and spent more money on movies than general moviegoers.[22] The New York Times noted that "[w]hat rises to the top of the site’s page for most popular reviews ranges wildly: There are obscure memes, diaristic essays and sprawling screeds packed with pseudo-academic jargon," but added that "the lack of rules or structure can also lead to some interesting, unconventional criticism, and offers a platform to voices that might otherwise not be heard."[1]

In recent years, Letterboxd has also attracted Hollywood celebrities and notable members of the film industry to the site. Director Martin Scorsese opened a Letterboxd account in October 2023 and quickly became the most-followed user on the site;[23] he currently has over 350,000 followers.[24] Other filmmakers on Letterboxd include Mike Flanagan,[25] Rian Johnson,[26][27] Christopher McQuarrie,[28] and Ayo Edebiri.[29] Letterboxd's marketing team also frequently interviews Hollywood celebrities about their four favorite films, based on the Letterboxd feature that allows users to publicly display their own favorite movies on their user profiles.[30][31][32]

In March 2024, Letterboxd sent a security notice via email to their users notifying them of a recent data breach on their website. The notice included the following paragraph: "On February 15, 2024, we identified suspicious activity on one of Letterboxd’s staff accounts. We immediately blocked this unauthorized access, however some data associated with a number of members (albeit significantly less than 1% of all accounts) was accessed during this time." [33][34]

Features

General features

Anyone can read content on the site. However, users who want to participate must create a Letterboxd account.

All members can rate films on a scale of one to five stars (with half-stars also allowed), review films, and tag them with relevant keywords. Members may also list their four favorite films, maintain lists of films they have watched or want to watch, and interact with other members. A follower model enables members to follow and get updates about the activity of others on the site. Lists could originally only be made public or private to the user. In April 2023, finer controls were added which allowed sharing a list with specific users via a secret link.[35]

In December 2023, Letterboxd partnered with the aggregator Assemble to launch a feature identifying showtimes and links to ticketing websites for movies that were currently in theaters.[36] The feature applies to movie theaters in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia.[37]

Letterboxd is available as a mobile app for Android and iOS.[38][39]

Since opening to the public in February 2013, Letterboxd has offered a tiered membership structure, with both free and paid memberships.[40] Paid subscribers can access a broader range of features, including individual user data (such as hours spent watching films, favorite directors, and types of ratings given)[14] and a tool that identifies whether a film is available on a streaming service to which the user has a subscription.[41]

In September 2020, Letterboxd announced a new "HQ" membership type for film-related organizations, such as movie theaters, studios, festivals, and podcasts.[42] HQ members can post news stories, link to external websites, and access web analytics.[43]

Film data

All film-related metadata used on the website is supplied by The Movie Database, an open source database.[44] In September 2019, the site partnered with JustWatch to display online viewing options for films.[45] In March 2022, the site partnered with Nanocrowd to show "nanogenres" and recommendations for similar films to users.[46][47]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e Marsh, Calum (13 January 2021). "Is Letterboxd Becoming a Blockbuster?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  2. ^ a b "Frequent questions". letterboxd.com. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  3. ^ "Brooklyn Beta 2011". brooklynbeta.org. Archived from the original on 9 April 2011. Retrieved 19 July 2022.
  4. ^ "Letterboxd: Social website for film fans launches - latimes.com". 28 April 2012. Archived from the original on 28 April 2012. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  5. ^ "What on earth is Letterboxd?". Den of Geek. Archived from the original on 17 October 2018. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  6. ^ "Letterboxd, the social network for movie buffs, goes freemium and finally opens to everyone". The Next Web. 8 February 2013. Archived from the original on 30 January 2016. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  7. ^ a b Spangler, Todd (5 October 2023). "Letterboxd Founders on Selling Their Company, Expanding Into TV: 'We Need Some Mentorship to Take Us to the Next Level'". Variety. Archived from the original on 18 October 2023. Retrieved 19 October 2023.
  8. ^ a b Mullin, Benjamin (29 September 2023). "Letterboxd, Online Haven for Film Nerds, Gets a New Owner". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  9. ^ Spangler, Todd (29 September 2023). "Letterboxd Acquired by Canadian Firm in Deal Valuing It at $50 Million". Variety. Archived from the original on 29 September 2023. Retrieved 29 September 2023.
  10. ^ "There are now one billion films watched on Letterboxd". Twitter. Archived from the original on 19 July 2022. Retrieved 19 July 2022.
  11. ^ "Letterboxd One Million Watched Club". letterboxd.com. 27 March 2021. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  12. ^ "Letterboxd feels like vintage internet. Can it stay that way?". Washington Post. 18 December 2023. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  13. ^ Mullin, Benjamin (29 September 2023). "Letterboxd, Online Haven for Film Nerds, Gets a New Owner". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  14. ^ a b Tobias, Scott (18 September 2020). "The Future of Film Talk Is on Letterboxd". The Ringer. Archived from the original on 19 September 2020. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  15. ^ Murphy, J. Kim (22 November 2023). "How Letterboxd Captured Young Moviegoers — and Martin Scorsese". Variety. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  16. ^ Moulton, Jack (19 June 2023). "Films that have ranked as Letterboxd's official all-time number one". Letterboxd. Archived from the original on 1 August 2023. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  17. ^ "Official Top 250 Narrative Feature Films". letterboxd.com. 8 November 2013. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  18. ^ "Letterboxd Review". PCMAG. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  19. ^ Bunch, Sonny (5 January 2022). "J.D. Vance Versus Film Twitter". The Bulwark. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  20. ^ Hoepfner, Fran (4 December 2023). "May December May Cause Internet Brain". Vulture. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  21. ^ deBoer, Freddie (21 December 2023). "Every Annoying Letterboxd Behavior". Freddie deBoer. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  22. ^ Lambert, Harper (26 May 2023). "Letterboxd Unboxed: How a Grassroots Social Network Is Revolutionizing Film Fandom". TheWrap. Archived from the original on 6 June 2023. Retrieved 5 June 2023.
  23. ^ "Martin Scorsese joins Letterboxd and instantly becomes most followed account of all time". Dexerto. 28 October 2023. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  24. ^ "Martin Scorsese's profile". letterboxd.com. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  25. ^ "Mike Flanagan's profile". letterboxd.com. 26 February 2024. Retrieved 26 February 2024.
  26. ^ Johnson, Rian (23 May 2020). "Twitter". Twitter.
  27. ^ "rcjohnso's profile". letterboxd.com. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  28. ^ "Christopher McQuarrie's profile". letterboxd.com. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  29. ^ "Ayo Edebiri's profile". letterboxd.com. 7 February 2024. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  30. ^ "Emma Stone shares her four favorite films in great detail". letterboxd.com. 9 January 2024. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  31. ^ "Boots Riley shares his four favorite films". letterboxd.com. 26 January 2024. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  32. ^ "Zack Snyder shares his four favorite films". letterboxd.com. 21 December 2023. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  33. ^ "Letterboxd Security Notice: March 2024 - Letterboxd". deal.town. Retrieved 16 March 2024.
  34. ^ Rodger, James (15 March 2024). "Letterboxd issues urgent warning to users and says 'check accounts' now". Birmingham Live. Retrieved 16 March 2024.
  35. ^ "Between Us: private list sharing comes to Letterboxd • Journal • A Letterboxd Magazine". letterboxd.com. 14 April 2023. Archived from the original on 18 August 2023. Retrieved 18 August 2023.
  36. ^ Weprin, Alex (13 December 2023). "Letterboxd Adds Film Showtimes in Push to Get Users to Movie Theaters (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  37. ^ Gracewood, Gemma (14 December 2023). "Now Showing: cinema showtimes come to Patron members, with a wider launch on Christmas Eve • Journal • A Letterboxd Magazine". letterboxd.com. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  38. ^ "Letterboxd launches its movie social network on the iPhone". TechCrunch. Archived from the original on 17 October 2018. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  39. ^ "Letterboxd News". Letterboxd News. 30 August 2017. Archived from the original on 1 September 2017. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  40. ^ "Pro". Letterboxd News. 8 February 2013. Archived from the original on 26 July 2019. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  41. ^ "Paid subscriptions". letterboxd.com. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  42. ^ "Office Space". Letterboxd News. 17 September 2020. Archived from the original on 6 October 2020. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  43. ^ "HQ membership". letterboxd.com. Retrieved 8 February 2024.
  44. ^ Cole, Samantha (17 August 2021). "Letterboxd Welcomes Porn Reviews". Vice.com. Archived from the original on 17 August 2021. Retrieved 21 September 2022.
  45. ^ Stuart, Gwynedd (8 November 2019). "How Letterboxd Is Trying to Get an Edge Over Other Movie Apps". Los Angeles Magazine. Archived from the original on 8 November 2019. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  46. ^ March, Roderic (1 March 2022). "Nanocrowd and Letterboxd Help You Find Movies and Series You'll Love to Watch". Nanocrowd. Archived from the original on 2 March 2022. Retrieved 28 October 2022.
  47. ^ Gracewood, Gemma (15 March 2022). "Film Feelings: using 'nanogenres' to find similar films". Letterboxd. Archived from the original on 16 March 2022. Retrieved 28 October 2022.