Soaring growth for social film site Letterboxd

The site went public in February this year and now has 70,000 members

Social networking and film enthusiast site Letterboxd is growing at a rate of over 1000 new members a week.

The site, co-founded by Matthew Buchanan and Karl von Randow, lets people track and share their taste in film. The site went public in February this year and today has 70,000 members, Buchanan says.

Buchanan and von Randow run web design and development studio Cactuslab in Auckland.

Letterboxd users can keep an online diary of films they are watching. They can add reviews, ratings and tags. You can also compile and share lists of films with your friends – for example, your favourite film genres or films you want to see.

The site integrates with Twitter and Facebook so users can find and follow their friends to see what films they are watching and discussing.

One of the latest additions to the site is a partnership with US film criticism site The Dissolve.

“The really nice thing about that is that they approached us and said that most of their key staff and editors loved and used our site and they were really keen for us to be able to collaborate somehow,” says Buchanan.

Letterboxd did not yet have an API for integrating with other sites but decided to build an embeddable “widget”, which detects if you are signed into Letterboxd, he says. If you are, it enables you to interact with the film being reviewed on The Dissolve by putting in your own rating; by showing which of your friends have seen it and what ratings they gave it; and by letting you click through to their review of the same film, he says.

This widget is the first of a series of similar embeddable content types that Letterboxd will deliver, he says. A couple of other sites are also using the embedded content, he says.

The widget went live this month (August) and the user response so far from The Dissolve has been very positive, Buchanan says.

“We think more partnerships of this nature will be critical to an even steeper growth [of Letterboxd].”

Almost half of Letterboxd members are from the US. The next biggest country represented is the UK and then greater Europe, he says. New Zealand accounts for about 1.5 percent.

The site gets about 7 million page views per month. Unique visitors to the site are approaching 300,000 a month, he says.

Buchanan had been mulling the idea of a social network with a film theme for about five years before making it into reality.

“We wanted to build something that we ourselves wanted to use and hopefully, by virtue of that, that others wanted to use too.”

It is free to sign up and use the site, but Letterboxd also offers premium features to paying members, such as integration with Netflix, Buchanan says. The site has over 1,000 paying members at the moment, he says.

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