Back in the day…
- It was all Siskel & Ebert or the guy with the crazy hair + mustache
- The papers told you how long a movie’s been in the theaters
- You had more than a week to decide if you were going to see a movie or not before it disappeared to DVD
- If you missed it in the theaters, it was virtually impossible to know when you’d get to see it at home on tape
Today, we have amazing collaborative filtering systems (if you like Blah, then you’ll probably like Blah Blah), we know the exact gross a movie has made (even the ones that made, on average, $237 per screen), and every other little detailed stat imaginable. And with the exception of reporting the revenue/gross of a movie, I think we’re mostly for the better. These days, it only takes a little bit of trust “in the system” to weed out the good movies from the dreck. And as a father of two with virtually no movie-going times, choosing wisely is key for me.
Example one: picking a movie in the theaters.
I don’t even really think about the $10 (or more) to go see a movie as much the 2 hours of my life I’m about to commit to something. So when a movie’s in the theaters, I check just one site – rottentomatoes (RT). On RT I see an instant score, which is the aggregate of all reviewers. Anything under 50% and I assume it’s not theater-worthy. The truth is, I don’t put much stock into any given reviewer’s thoughts, but the power of RT is reminiscent of fivethirtyeight.com’s ability to pull together order out of chaos. BUT, that doesn’t mean I’ll never see the movie…
Example two: watching something On Demand (or just DVRing something)
After a movie’s made the rounds, I tend to put a bit more stock into the community/viewership as opposed to reviewers. Movies like Caddyshack, Shawshank Redemption, and others that I’ve liked did terribly with the critics, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth seeing. This is where the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) comes into play for me. Anything above 7 is definitely watchable, below 6 is not, and in between is a judgment call. But I never, ever DVR something without checking IMDB first…
Example three: adding to the Netflix queue
Virtually everything in my Netflix queue came through the internal Netflix recommendations system. It’s just plain awesome. I barely even look at the 5-star score, I have gotten so trusting of it. Granted, I don’t take every recommendation, but I can browse the “Movies You’ll 8>” and just add and add away.
And there you have it. Movie picks, courtesy of the Internet, no thought required.