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What is Letterboxd? Meet the social media platform for movie buffs
Finding honest movie reviews and reliable recommendations for what to watch next can be challenging. Out of the various movie review sites, Letterboxd has become a popular social network for many film lovers to discover and share their favorite flicks. The app offers more engagement options than IMDb and more off-the-cuff reviews than Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s everything you need to know about Letterboxd and why it’s become so popular.
Letterboxd is a free social media platform for movie buffs. Notable features include the ability for users to keep track of films they've watched, write and share reviews, and compile a watchlist of films they want to see.
What is Letterboxd, and who is it for?
Letterboxd was first launched in 2011, designed to serve a gap in the vast offering of apps; where was the social media site for movies? Founders Matthew Buchanan and Karl von Randow described how before then, they used Flickr to share photos and Last.fm to share their taste in music, but there was nothing similar for movies. While IMDb has an extensive database, it’s not social in design. That’s why they created the social media network known as Letterboxd, which they describe as the “Goodreads for movies.”
In its infancy, Letterboxd was largely a niche for passionate cinephiles eager to track their movie-watching habits, create lists of favorites, and write and publish reviews. But in recent years, the app has gone mainstream, doubling its growth during the pandemic. Many people flocked to the site searching for something to watch while isolating at home, and the increased usage is a testament to Letterboxd’s ability to recommend something great.
A look at reviews on Letterboxd
On Letterboxd, you can discover new movies to watch and new critics to follow, and it doesn’t differentiate the opinions of professional critics into a separate category.
A first glance at the review section for any movie on Letterboxd will give you a taste of the off-the-cuff candor on the app. The top-rated reviewers aren’t worried about the professional formatting of typical film critics; they range from making jokes and references to aspects of the industry to offering short personal quips. You can also access Letterboxd via mobile and desktop should you wish to use a keyboard for lengthier reviews.
How does Letterboxd work?
To use Letterboxd, you must sign up for a free account. Once registered, you can search for which movies you’ve seen or ones you’re interested in watching. Or, you can browse popular movies from the Films tab. You’ll find lots of information about a film on its dedicated page. In the middle, you’ll find a synopsis of the film, along with a list fo cast and crew members, details such as studios involved and languages available, and which genres the movie fits in.
On the left-hand side, you’ll find the film’s official poster, and underneath stats for how many users have watched the movie, how many lists it appears in, how many people have liked the film, and where it ranks in Letterboxds top 250 film list if it made the cut. Below, you’ll find a list of available platforms where you can watch the movie in your region, similar to the sought-after feature provided by JustWatch.
Let’s look at the options in the box on the right-hand side. The eye icon indicates whether or not you’ve watched or reviewed the film (though, in this case, it is the iconic googly eye from the movie Everything Everywhere all at Once, an example of some of the fun easter eggs waiting to be discovered on the site). You can click the heart icon to like a movie or click the clock icon to add it to a watchlist.
You can rate and write a movie review here if you so wish. You’ll also find a chart showing the proportion of people who rated the film between one to five stars with an average score. At the bottom, you can see if your friends have reviewed the film to read what they thought.
What else can you do?
The little lighting bolt symbol beside the Films tab will show you recent activity from friends and those you follow. The Lists tab on the other side will show you top trending lists and give you the option to create your own. From Halloween horrors to cheesy rom-coms, it’s fun to organize movies into different categories or quickly find something in the mood to watch.
The Members tab is where you’ll find the top-trending reviewers if you’re looking for some avid moviegoers to follow. Lastly, the Journal tab is where you can read industry news, interviews, film analysis, and listen to the Letterboxd podcast. The green Log button on the far left side gives you quick access to write a review, start a new list, or find your friends.
Why is Letterboxd so popular?
Most movie review sires only run on aggregated reviews and ratings, but what sets Letterboxd apart is combining a film database and a film diary that uses a social network-style follower model. Users can write whatever they want about a film, and others can upvote their reviews. The unedited spirit of Letterboxd can be both hilarious and liberating. It gives readers an immediate sense of the movie without beating around the bush.
Another large part of why Letterboxd has become so popular is due to the intuitive user experience. Popular reviews are short and bite-sized, making them easy to scroll through and more shareable. Many reviews have gone viral since the text can easily fit within the length of a tweet or an Instagram story. You can link your Letterboxd account with your other social media accounts to publish everywhere at once.
The rest of the information is clear and accessible; the bright star rating is tucked in beneath the title, and the poster is perfectly formatted to the right. The co-founder Matthew Buchanan explained. “One-sheet design is one of the many aspects of film craft that we adore, and putting a version of this front and center as a navigational approach has become part of the fabric of Letterboxd, and in turn, encourages lots of social sharing.”
The more Letterboxd reviews that go viral, the more people become aware and interested in the platform. Today, Letterboxd has roughly five million monthly visitors, and it still growing. The freeform nature of reviews and lists allows for nearly as much creativity as the artistic films waiting to be discovered. On Letterboxd, the saying that “everyone’s a critic’ isn’t a bad thing — it’s its biggest strength.
Read more: 10 best photo-sharing apps for Android
You can’t watch movies directly from Letterboxd. However, you can find a complete list of where a movie is available to stream or rent in your region.
Letterboxd isn’t only for movies. You can find reviews for series, shorts, and documentaries as well.
Yes, Letterboxd will recommend movies based on your watch history and other films you’ve liked. It will also show you recent movie reviews from accounts that you follow.