Box Office Mojo Criticized After Redesign That Includes a Paywall for Some Data

Amazon and IMDb roll out box office database’s first redesign since 2008 acquisition

Last Updated: October 23, 2019 @ 7:53 PM

Box office analysts, critics and even a major filmmaker gave the thumbs-down Wednesday to a major redesign of Box Office Mojo that removed longtime options and moved some data to IMDBPro, parent company IMDb’s subscription service.

It’s the first major overhaul of the site since IMDb, a subsidiary of Amazon, purchased the website from creator Brandon Gray in 2008. The new version of the site significantly resembles IMDbPro, which is now prominently featured at the top of the webpage with the branding “Box Office Mojo by IMDbPro.” And according to the company, some information will be available only on IMDbPro, which costs $19.99 per month, or $149.99 for an annual membership.

Among the information now requiring a subscription are breakdowns of box office performance for various genres, and historical data for Hollywood studios; it’s not clear what else may be locked behind the paywall, but among the data removed entirely from the free site are the ability to search for an individual’s box office history by title, and box office history adjusted for inflation.

A statement from IMDb says that the redesign was “made in response to customer feedback and usage patterns, which will continue to inform future feature launches.”

But if the company expected applause, it was likely disappointed by the negative reaction online. Complaints were made about the site’s navigation, the removal of features such as inflation-adjusted figures, and the decision to move studio-specific release slates and compilations of each studio’s box office performances behind a paywall that requires an IMDbPro subscription to access.

“Um. How to put this? I do not care for the new design of Box Office Mojo,” “Baby Driver” director Edgar Wright said. “Please change back.”

“Wow – @boxofficemojo redesigned their site & stripped out most of the functions that allowed me to do deep dive stuff on #Charting,” Screenjunkies critic and producer Dan Murrell tweeted. “Stuff like estimated tickets sold, easy to find adjusted for inflation lists – GONE. It was amazing resource. Is this the cost of @IMDb partnership?”

“Box Office Mojo just torpedoed itself and essentially removed everything that made it a must-visit site just to drive up IMDB Pro subscriptions,” wrote Forbes box office reporter Scott Mendelson.

“@boxofficemojo please put your website back to the old format, the new design is awful,” Anthony D’Alessandro of Deadline said.

“It is hard to overstate just how central and essential BOM is to the day-to-day lives of people in entertainment media and the film industry,” wrote BuzzFeed News reporter Adam B. Vary. “It’s clear that Amazon wants more people paying for IMDbPro, so they moved a ton of BOM data to that service. But in the process, they’ve seemingly erased a few major features that made the original BOM site so essential.”

While Wednesday’s overhaul marks the first major BOM redesign since the IMDB purchase, it’s not the first time the parent company has attempted to surprise users with huge changes. In 2014, Box Office Mojo unexpectedly disappeared from the Internet, with the site’s URL redirecting to IMDb’s box office page. After a massive backlash, the site was restored the next day without explanation from Amazon or IMDb.

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