What is Letterboxd? How is it connected to film? And how has this platform impacted film criticism and the way films are consumed nowadays? In this blog, we will explore the connections between Letterboxd and the world of cinema, examining its influence and impact on film criticism as well as on film consumption.
Letterboxd is described as a “social platform for sharing your taste in film” that encourages discussion and discovery, meant to function as a public diary. Think of some sort of Goodreads for films, where users can log, rate, and review films they’ve watched, read and like what other users have seen and build lists. In Letterboxd everyone’s a critic.
[Image Creds: Android Authority]
When it first entered the scene in 2011, Letterboxd successfully positioned itself as the ideal intersection between a social media platform, a forum and a blog. Surprisingly, while the platform is more than ten years old, it has only recently blown up, growing over 3 million new users over the last year. The user base, which stood at 5 million in 2021, skyrocketed to a staggering 11 million by the end of 2023. This remarkable growth is, in part, credited to the resurgence and heightened interest in movie culture stemming from the lockdowns of 2020.
The platform’s transformation, fuelled by the numerous influx of users, has not only reshaped the platform itself but also revolutionised the way it functions. As a result, Letterboxd has gone from a niche platform to a mainstream app that has moved beyond its insulated role in the lives of film enthusiasts and branched out to include entertainment update accounts, meme pages, and has even participated in red-carpet events. Letterboxd’s arrival has reshaped the film criticism, bringing about a notable shift in the way movies are evaluated, consumed and discussed.
Four Favorites with Golden Globe winner Emma Stone at Palm Springs International Film Festival ✨️ #emmastone #fourfavorites #letterboxdtop4 #letterboxd #interview #poorthings #goldenglobes #cinephile #filmtok #movies #fyp #foryou
However, this transition hasn’t been without challenges. The platform’s original appeal as a space for authentic, thoughtful film discussions has contended with the emergence of reflexive jokes and meme-driven content. What was once considered a personal diary for film aficionados has now evolved into a widely discussed topic across various online spaces. The platform changed as more users joined, stirring conversation among those just discovering it and the longstanding cinephile community.
As a consequence, the editorial side of the platform leaned into one of its most well-known and defining features: the Top Four. Similar to Spotify’s Wrapped feature, users on the app can curate and choose up to four movies that live on their profile as their favourites. This defining feature has taken centre stage in shaping the user’s identity. By curating their Top Four favourite films, displayed prominently on their profiles, influencing their online persona. This feature has been embraced not only by users but also by the platform’s editorial team, extending its reach to red-carpet interviews and social media snippets. The spotlight on statistics, accomplishments, and status has led certain users to ponder whether the joy of watching movies has been eclipsed by the competitive aspect of Letterboxd. The platform’s efficacy in encouraging particular behaviours, such as watching more movies and completing challenges, has inadvertently transformed film-watching into a somewhat of a competitive pursuit. This shift has prompted questions on whether the primary focus should be on the quality of the film-watching experience rather than the quantity of films being logged.
[Image Creds: Letterboxd]
Letterboxd’s journey reflects the broader challenges faced by social media platforms when transitioning from niche to mainstream. Whether democratising film critique or shaping contemporary consumption, the platform continues to spark conversations. As debates continue on the role and impact of Letterboxd on film culture, it remains a compelling case study in the dynamic relationship between film production and consumption and social media platforms.
[Featured Image Creds: TheFutureParty]
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