Movies: From the Web to the Silver Screen
Whether you're looking to go to a movie, learn about the movies, or add to your home collection of movies, the Internet can provide the tools you need. Find current listings and buy movie tickets; read and compare reviews, track the box office, and view trailers online; track major and minor film festivals or explore movie history and trivia; buy or rent movies on DVD. Whatever your film needs, you can find what you're looking for on the Web.
It's certainly still possible to find show times and theaters the old-fashioned way, by picking up a newspaper or phone. But why live in the Stone Age? On the right Web site, you'll be able to find out what's playing in your area, download previews, read reviews, and book tickets as well.
- If you're looking only for show times, and plan to buy your tickets at the theater, your local newspaper might be a good choice. Most newspapers publish movie listings online, but they are rarely set up for ticket purchases.
- Remember that many smaller movies are on limited release and may never reach a screen in your town. Some movie listing sites allow you to expand your search beyond your zip code, helping you find a theater that's playing a little-known movie you badly want to see.
- When you buy a ticket online, you're probably going to be charged a small booking fee in addition to the ticket price. Also, be sure to note whether you have to print the ticket at home or collect it at the theater.
- If you are picking up a ticket at the theater, make sure to bring the credit card you used for the purchase with you to the theater; you'll need that card to confirm your ID.
is the online version of the famous phone service for booking movie tickets. Search for films by title, find out what's playing in your neighborhood, and buy tickets for selected theaters via MovieTickets.com, a site described below. Also on offer are reviews, articles, and DVD information. Because it's an AOL site, you can use AOL Instant Messenger to send pages from the site directly to other AIM users.
can be a good place to start if you're just looking for show times and tickets, although it does carry some articles and news. Free membership is required to complete a ticket purchase. Generally tickets bought online are picked up at the theater, but some places accept printouts that you can make from your computer.
deals primarily with movie listings and ticketing. When you're browsing theaters, icons indicate whether it's possible to print tickets at home, pick them up at the theater, or both. There are also movie and video information, articles, movie guides, and user reviews.
provides a wealth of information that includes show times and listings, as well as reviews, movie guides, DVD information, and so on. The site links to MovieTickets.com for ticket purchases.
The Internet Movie Database
is the most comprehensive movie information site on the Internet. You can search for listings using film titles or a zip code.
collects show times as well as reviews, articles, trailers, forums, and various film-related attractions.
Perhaps you trust a certain national reviewer above any other film critic, or like to compare opinions from a number of publications. Maybe you need to know whether a movie is appropriate for children, or just want to find out what's doing well at the box office. We've compiled a list of links that should meet your requirements for film reviews, whatever they are.
- All of the sites that contain movie listings (IMDB, Moviefone, Yahoo Movies, Fandango, etc.) also carry movie reviews in some form. It's possible to do all your movie research in one place.
- Many sites contain review archives. You can learn which critics share your taste in movies by reading their opinions on films you've already seen.
For national and aggregated review sites ...
compiles reviews from popular media outlets and online film societies, tracking the consensus of opinion with the "Tomatometer": good reviews are rated as "fresh" and bad reviews are "rotten." This site is a great way to get a quick snapshot of what lots of reviewers think about a particular film. Alternatively, through the other end of the telescope, you can find out what one reviewer thinks about lots of different movies, and see if that critic's taste matches yours.
The National Society of Film Critics
was founded in 1966, and its members write for publications such as Time, The Boston Phoenix, and The New Yorker. You can search the site by movie title or reviewer. Alternatively, readers short of time can just look for the overall movie score, which is calculated from an aggregate of all the site's reviews for each film.
Ebert & Roeper
is the online version of Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper's movie review television show. The site contains video clips of the show as well as a number of online exclusives.
writes for the Chicago Sun-Times, is the co-host of a popular TV show (see above) and, for better or worse, probably the best-known movie critic in the United States. This site contains reviews, commentary, and a mini-film glossary. You can also visit the blog
of the site's editor, Jim Emerson.
For finding out whether a movie is appropriate for children ...
The Movie Mom
is the online identity of Nell Minow, a concerned parent who assesses how suitable movies are for kids aged 2-18. New theatrical and DVD releases receive letter grades for the ease of moms and dads who haven't got time to read reviews. Each movie is also listed with appropriate age group and MPAA rating.
grew out of a now-defunct site called Critics.com. The surviving kids' site compares itself to a food-labeling system: it provides objective data about the components of movies so that parents can make informed choices about what their children see.
For box office results ...
Box Office Mojo
contains things other than box office information (reviews, features, discussion forums, and so on), but mostly this is a site about the film industry's bottom line. It is an up-to-date, comprehensive source for daily and longer-term box office figures and DVD sales.
rejoices in an explanatory name and is a source of in-depth current and historical market analysis for the movie business.
began its rating service by compiling restaurant reviews from the collated opinions of ardent gourmands. Now in its bid to critique the entire world, Zagat has produced a movie guide for 2008, covering 1,950 titles under headings such as Chick Flick, Oscar Winner, and Remake.
Whether you're a movie fanatic or just like to dip into Hollywood gossip now and then, there are sites to help you keep abreast of developments in the film industry.
- Celebrity gossip Web sites abound, but are often no more reliable than their supermarket checkout counterparts. For more credible entertainment journalism, a good first stop for anyone looking for insider insight, industry gossip, and news of forthcoming attractions might be the online outlets of the big print entertainment magazines. The links are provided below.
- If you have a dial-up connection, you can forget about watching trailers online. You need a reasonably fast connection speed if you're not going to drive yourself nuts. And some users will have to download additional software, such as RealPlayer or Flash plug-ins, to watch previews.
- Sites designed for and by self-confessed film geeks often carry some wild speculation, including scandalous gossip that the big magazines shy away from printing. But as long as you have at least a pinch of salt to hand, then these blogs can be great fun to read. As well as publishing some entertaining conjecture, they are often first with the most sensational stories.
- Almost all movies that are on current release have their own Web sites. To find it, try www.[movie title].com, or www.[movie title]themovie.com; one of those options will likely get you directly to the site. And if that doesn't work, you can always type the movie title into a search engine.
For online entertainment magazines ...
covers more than movies though Hollywood is the staple of its editorial diet. The articles here should appeal to both readers with a casual interest in the industry and aficionados alike.
was a print magazine until March 2007, and currently exists only online (except for the French edition). The site features articles about new and current releases and links to a blog written by Premiere's film critic, Glenn Kenny
caters to the movie insider and has established a reputation as the paper of record for the American film industry. While the print edition is known for getting the scoop on casting stories and studio leaks, the online site offers a wealth of reviews, blogs, and film columns.
The Hollywood Reporter
shares a readership of film professionals with Variety. The main difference between these magazines and those with a more general appeal is that they concentrate on earnings and deals, and also look further ahead to films that will not be released for months, perhaps years, to come.
For watching trailers ...
provides high-definition trailers that can be viewed online or downloaded onto iTunes to transfer to an iPod.
features a "Trailer of the Day" as well as a less frequently changing list of featured previews. There are also video interviews and coverage of premieres.
boasts a comprehensive collection of current, future, and classic movie trailers. Like many film sites, Movie-List also contains reviews, forums, top-10 lists, and movie posters.
For film geek sites ...
Ain't It Cool News
is the creation of Harry Knowles, the film world's super nerd. Confined by ill health to his bedroom, Knowles built his site and established a reputation (as well as a certain amount of infamy) for publishing consensus-busting opinion and leaks from film industry insiders. He has since won writing jobs with Sky Movies and Penthouse, has been impersonated on Saturday Night Live, and was described by Quentin Tarantino as "the Wolf Blitzer of the Internet." The site and its regular contributors are often well ahead of the competition in breaking stories and, as one might expect, most excited by the sci-fi, horror, martial arts, and action genres.
operates under its self-explanatory title to provide in-depth features, interviews, box office figures, and a wealth of news for anyone who wants to stay informed about current and upcoming films and DVDs.
Cinematic Happenings Under Development
hosts some sassy, wry articles from its regular columnists. This is a place for film-obsessed readers, and expresses a predictable enthusiasm for genre movies.
is another site for the bona fide film geek. Designed like a comic book, it tracks what's new and most arresting in film. Comments from its users are featured on the homepage; scroll down to find them.
started as a studio employee's hobby and has grown into Australia's largest film site. It's updated constantly and features news, gossip, interviews, contests, and more.
carries news on forthcoming attractions and projects in development, supplemented by the readers' feedback. Like many other film sites, MovieWeb includes reviews, box office statistics, interviews, and showtimes.
is the online vehicle for the SciFi television channel. It has a lively film section containing interviews, reviews, and film clips for sci-fi enthusiasts.
features news stories and reviews about movies of interest to the Latino community. You'll also find trailers and interviews with actors from the latest movies.
deals in everything on the small or silver screen that might grab the attention of the ardent comic book fan. Readers can explore sections on specific superheroes, as well as news, reviews, and message boards.
will surprise few, considering its name, with its aim to be "Your #1 Source for Horror." Check out the "Movie Pit" and the "Zombie Army" (somewhat hard-to-find red links on black navigation bar at the top of the page) if you're the kind of person to seek out the most unpleasant and gore-bespattered artifacts of the horror movie genre.
Film festivals used to be the preserve of industry professionals, but recent years have seen the arrival of movie events that cater to specialized markets and are accessible to the general public. This section makes it easy for you to learn about what's going on at festivals large and small across the country.
- Many smaller films bid for national distribution deals through film festival screenings. So a film festival buzz can alert you to interesting upcoming movies that might easily slip under the radar of the mainstream media.
- By the same token, film festivals provide an opportunity to see exciting new movies that may never win a nationwide release.
The Internet Movie Database
maintains a comprehensive list of links for upcoming film festivals worldwide. They also host a film festival message board where you can connect with other festival goers and film lovers.
The Cannes Film Festival
or Festival de Cannes has become the premiere international film festival, the highlight of which is the Palme d'Or (Golden Palm) Award for the best film at the festival. Take a look at "Festival Archives" for an interesting look at festival posters, film clips, awards, events, and juries over the years.
is the most well-known American film festival and the Holy Grail of independent filmmakers. Check out the site for festival archives, dates, and information on how to submit movies for consideration.
The Tribeca Film Festival
was created as part of a larger effort to revitalize lower Manhattan after 9/11. It has quickly grown into one of the largest and most influential events on the American film calendar. Check out the site for film news year round.
There's an enormous amount of film history, movie trivia, and industry facts available on the Web. Whether you're a film scholar or simply trying to place the movie quote that's stuck on loop in your brain, you can find what you're looking for.
- Award sites and best-of lists provide a means to identify historically significant films, as well as links to sites dedicated to specific movies.
- The full-service movie Web sites, particularly imdb.com, are extremely comprehensive and well suited to both amateur and professional research.
For award shows ...
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
organizes the Academy Awards, aka the Oscars
. In addition to detailing the Oscars Ceremony, the site features searchable databases for scripts and credits, and information about the Margaret Herrick Library and the Academy Film Archive.
The Directors Guild of America, Inc.
organizes the Directors Guild Awards. All of the voting members are film, TV, and commercials directors. The site proffers information about the upcoming awards show and records past winners.
Film Independent's Spirit Awards
celebrate movies made outside of the big studios exclusively. Annual membership (with voting privileges) is open to anyone and costs $95; you can sign up online. The site outlines the history of the awards with past nominees, past hosts, and a photo gallery.
The Golden Raspberry Awards
(Razzies) rejoice in all that is terrible in the movies. The categories of the anti-Oscars award ceremony include "Worst Picture" and "Worst Remake or Rip-off."
The MTV Movie Awards
is a youth-oriented show, heavy on pizzazz, that's been around since 1992. The site has archives of all the past shows, as well as photos, videos, a blog, polls, and quizzes.
For best-of lists ...
movie critics Richard Corliss and Richard Schickel have compiled their own ranking of the 100 greatest movies ever made. It's arranged alphabetically, and each film title has a link for those who want more information.
The Internet Movie Database
compiles a range of lists including this one: the worst 100 movies of all time. Look for the links to other IMDB lists on the left side of the screen.
is a catalog of lists including links to a large number of best-of sites and an enormous cross-indexed movie database. In addition, there are links to Amazon.com and Netflix for those who want to get hold of the films covered.
For trivia, blogs, and general movie history ...
is a compendium of user-submitted film gaffs, such as the gas cylinder that was left visible in the Coliseum in Gladiator. It also details trivia and DVD "Easter eggs" (hidden DVD features). Access to the site is free, but a $10 annual membership yields an advertising-free site.
boasts a variety of odd links (82 in total) that have been collated online by Ray Hamel, a librarian at the Wisconsin Primate Research Center. Be amused by links like "Bogart: Name That Quote!" and "Where Did They Film That?"
MTV Movies Blog
publishes online under the tag line "We bring the news, you bring the nachos." With its MTV provenance, this site is guaranteed frequent scoops and exclusive content.
The Movie Blog
bills itself as "The Official Home of Correct Movie Opinions." Punditry aside, it's a frequently updated blog written by movie enthusiasts, comedians, and some film professionals.
Turner Classic Movies
is a cable television channel devoted exclusively to film classics. To complement its programming, the channel runs this Web site featuring a large games and trivia section, alongside the TV schedule and general movie news. This is the place to test your movie knowledge.
The National Film Preservation Board
maintains an exhaustive archive of moving images. Scroll down through a list of archival organizations arranged by country, or visit the "Moving Image Collections" (MIC) link to search the complete database.
For movie quotes ...
oversees a repository of more than one million movie quotes. Submit your own or play the online movie quote recognition game. Before playing, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do you feel lucky? Free registration is required.
The Internet Movie Database
has an extensive quotes section that you can browse or search by quote or title. Alternatively, just click on the homepage for a random quote.
Useless Movie Quotes
is another quotes site with more than 2,600 quotes from more than 220 movies, and a quiz. As you might guess, the site doesn't take itself too seriously.
The high picture quality, relatively low price, and ready availability of DVDs mean that a lot of people choose to recreate the film theater experience at home. Here are the links to help you do that.
- As with buying anything online, be sure to factor in shipping costs if you're trying to save money. Sure, it might seem a really obvious point, but some outlets only reveal the shipping costs at the end of a number of pages in the buying process.
- If you're building a library of movies, you might want to consider the new formats that are currently battling to succeed regular DVDs: HD-DVD and Blu-ray. The extensive collection you create could be unplayable one day soon because your films are recorded on an obsolete medium.
- The DVD review sites listed below differ from regular film review sites in that they place more focus on the disc technology. Plus, the reviews help you determine whether you want to own a movie, not just watch it. You'll also be able to keep track of what's soon to be released.
- Full-service sites, such as imdb.com, usually indicate whether movies are available for purchase and provide links to online retailers.
For DVD reviews ...
The Digital Bits
provides news, gossip, reviews, and blogs about DVD, HD-DVD, and Blu-ray Discs. It's a site for the true film fanatic with excellent eyesight-the black background does make the site difficult to read.
For purchasing DVDs ...
sets the standard for DVD shopping. If a movie is available to buy--or will be soon--it can normally be found here, along with professional and consumer reviews and free shipping.
, the well-known auction site, has a section devoted to DVDs. You can select your desired format and genre, and probably get a pretty good deal, too.
is a site for trading media, which of course includes DVDs. Sign up, list the items you want to get rid of and the items you'd like to get. Then wait to make a match with another member.
For renting DVDs ...
researches and reviews just about everything. Their "Online DVD Rental Review" compares DVD rental companies and their services on one easy-to-read chart.
is the original online movie rental site. The pre-paid envelopes and absence of late fees make the service extremely user-friendly. The company offers payment plans that allow members to rent anywhere from one to eight movies at a time.
operates a service (an offshoot of its physical stores) that is almost identical to Netflix. The main difference is that movies can be returned and exchanged at Blockbuster stores, so renters don't necessarily have to wait for DVDs to arrive in the mail.
It's not only movie trailers that you can watch online these days. Many sites now enable you to download entire films directly to your computer or to watch streaming movies via the Internet.
- The slower your Internet connection speed, the longer the download time for movies. And streaming video will be constantly interrupted by a substandard connection. As mentioned elsewhere, dial-up is not an option if you want to watch videos from the Internet on your computer.
- Expect most services to have a subscription or per-use fee. Any site that lets users download or watch streaming versions of movies from the studios without charging a fee is probably breaking the law.
- Legitimate sites such as apple.com enable you to download movies for approximately the same price as a DVD and, of course, you don't have to wait for the movie to arrive in the mail.
permits you to buy or rent downloadable movies using its Unbox system. To do so, you first need to download a free Unbox video player. (Currently, this application only works in the United States on PCs running Windows XP.) Once that's done, you can rent or buy movies to view on your PC, on some portable devices, or on a television with a TiVo subscription.
includes an online viewing service with all its monthly DVD rental plans. Its "Watch Instantly" service requires the download and installation of a free Netflix movie viewer (compatible only with Windows XP Service Pack 2 or Windows Vista), and allocates one hour of viewing time per dollar of the monthly plan. For example, a standard $17.99 monthly fee for DVD rentals comes with 18 hours of online viewing.
is a streaming video site that allows members to watch movies using RealPlayer. The free basic membership provides unlimited access to the free (public domain) library. The MovieFlix Plus plan ($7.95 a month) grants access to the entire library.
hosts streaming video content including movies, documentaries, and more. Users can subscribe for free or use a pay-per-view service.
exists both to archive hard-to-find independent documentaries about American life, and to make them widely available to a public that would generally be unaware of them otherwise. No membership is required.
does not host videos on its site. Rather, it provides links to free media that are legally available elsewhere on the Internet. MoviesFoundOnline.com describes its selection as "100% handpicked content chosen to inform, shock and entertain you.
is a repository of free, mostly short films. Its goal is to accumulate a wide breadth of content and distribute it freely. The site includes an area to upload your own
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