Case study: IMDb and Withoutabox

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Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has become the pre-eminent online source of information for the film industry. Although films are now often distributed and promoted online, there remains a vibrant calendar of film festivals around the world and in recognition of this, IMDb acquired Withoutabox three years ago.

According to festivals director Christian Gaines, Withoutabox mediates in “the tug between a traditional exhibition – a communal celebration of film and everything that means – and the rapidly advancing world of video on demand”.

Withoutabox brings IMDb’s online reach into the offline world of grassroots film festivals and film making by providing a web portal for film makers to upload their work and all supporting materials once, and then to submit these to multiple festivals.

From here, film makers can also promote their work by creating title pages on, where they can upload clips, trailers and images; and on which news feeds appear when a film is mentioned by any of IMDb’s 500 news partners. Withoutabox also helps members self-distribute their films via DVDs and online streaming.

Meanwhile, a festival that signs up to the Withoutabox submissions process is able to market itself through the portal to 300,000 film makers in 200 countries, the company claims. Bringing the recognised IMDb brand name to its service has clearly contributed to Withoutabox’s credibility.

Gaines says that IMDb’s principal objective is to attract a diverse range of films and festivals to the service, adding richness and variation to IMDb’s archives and enhancing the site’s value as a reference source.

“It is very important to make sure that we provide film makers with as wide a selection of film festivals from around the world as possible at different times of the year,” says Gaines. “We make sure that they are using the system to make their discovery of emerging movies and emerging film makers as thorough, authoritative and complete as they can possibly make it.”

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