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[update], members have marked over 600 million films as being watched.
Type of site
|Social networking service for films|
|Created by||Matthew Buchanan|
Karl von Randow
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", now having more than 3 million member accounts, up from 1.7 million at the same time the previous 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. It originally started with 23 films. 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 and paid memberships, which allow 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 a spike of popularity with its new audience, with organisations such as IndieWire, TIFF and The Criterion Collection 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.
- The Patron's name appears on the Patrons Page.
- The Patron's reviews show the film's featured image at the top of their review.
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.
- "Frequent questions". letterboxd.com.
- "Letterboxd News". Letterboxd News. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
- Tobias, Scott (18 September 2020). "The Future of Film Talk Is on Letterboxd". The Ringer. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
- Marsh, Calum (13 January 2021). "Is Letterboxd Becoming a Blockbuster?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
- "Letterboxd News". news.letterboxd.com.
- "Letterboxd: Social website for film fans launches - latimes.com". 28 April 2012. Archived from the original on 28 April 2012. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
- "What on earth is Letterboxd?". Den of Geek. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
- "Letterboxd, the social network for movie buffs, goes freemium and finally opens to everyone". The Next Web. 8 February 2013. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
- "Pro". Letterboxd News.
- "Office Space". Letterboxd News. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
- "Showdown — Our rules, your lists". letterboxd.com. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
- "Letterboxd News + Editorial". Letterboxd News. Letterboxd. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
- "The Letterboxd Show • A podcast on Anchor". Anchor. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
- "Letterboxd launches its movie social network on the iPhone". TechCrunch. Retrieved 16 October 2018.
- "Letterboxd News". Letterboxd News. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
- 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.
- Stuart, Gwynedd (8 November 2019). "How Letterboxd Is Trying to Get an Edge Over Other Movie Apps". Los Angeles Magazine. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
- "At Your Service". Letterboxd News. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
- Letterboxd – official site