"We want a play button on every single page of IMDb," said the popular film site's founder Col Needham during a SXSW Q&A moderated by indieWIRE's Eugene Hernandez.
"Our strategy is to allow people to click the play button and they will be able to legally watch an entire movie for free," Needham said. The amibitious goal, which Needham described as a broad strategy, has potentially massive ramifications for a site that currently receives three billion page views from 57 million unique users per month. So far, the site has 14,000 full length television shows and "a couple of thousand" full length movies and over 120,000 video items ranging from interviews to trailers and clips. Needham said IMDb will use its Withoutabox unit to give the site a direct connection with filmmakers as well as festivals in its effort to recruit feature length films for that play button. "We're most excited at the moment with our video component," said Needham.
Beyond the play button, IMDb is hoping to expand its international reach, and recently launched a German version. "We hope this will connect American and U.K. audiences to international film and vice versa," said Needham, who launched IMDb in 1995 in Cardiff, Wales. Its genesis was an online chat group during the late '80s when he got the idea to collect a list of pretty actresses and their films to share with the group of mostly college-aged males. He said that the site received 60 hits in its first few hours. IMDb currently has 1.3 million titles in its database, with 170,000 added in 2008 alone.
"I grew up very passionate about film," Needham said, recounting how IMDb came about. "In 1990 I saw 1100 films, which many not seem like a lot for some acquisitions people, but I didn't work in film at the time - I was a full time employee (at Hewlett Packard). The site is driven by my passion and my teams passion for movies."