IMDb- what’s in a number?

Richard Armitage's IMDb page, 22nd December, 2013.

Richard Armitage’s IMDb page, 22nd December 2013.

Quite by chance today, I was looking up some information about a movie on IMDb, and happened to click on ‘rank’ in the top right hand corner. What I discovered is that if you then click on, ‘view rank on IMDbPro’, it takes you to a complete cast listing with each actor’s actual Star Meter number. It’s entirely possible that I just never knew this before, or maybe it’s a recent computer glitch, and access to non-subscribers will get shut down soon, but this led to some fascinating discoveries.

Now, I’m not looking to make this a competitive fandom thing where, ‘my actor guy is higher ranked than your guy’, even if only because the rankings fluctuate from week to week, but I was honestly astounded by how highly Richard Armitage ranked compared to others in the cast, when I looked up The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug. When you think of all the pretty big name actors in that particular cast, it may surprise you to know that Armitage  (189) only ranked lower than two others- Benedict Cumberbatch (52), and Evangeline Lilly (68).

I’d honestly love to know how this shakes out- what has Richard Armitage, for instance, done to rank higher than Martin Freeman (319)- the Hobbit himself, who, although absent from promotional activities for the DVD release of DOS, has been seen in a well publicised trailer for a new TV series, namely Fargo?  Do Armitage fans look up news articles about their man more frequently than say, fans of Orlando Bloom, Lee Pace, Luke Evans or, to be fair to both sexes, Cate Blanchett? All are busy, working actors with an established fan base, yet, for this week at least, rank below Armitage, as does Sir Ian McKellen, who has a new X-Men movie coming out next month.

I’m in no way suggesting that Richard Armitage doesn’t deserve this particular place in the IMDb chart, quite the contrary, but I’m curious to know how much publicity it takes to make a difference here, in a profession ruled by popularity and public perception. Since Armitage has only recently added to his list of projects on IMDb, it’s obviously other factors that have kept his ranking at such a steadily high level. Personally, I’d award him extra brownie points for every time he’s had to sit down for an interview and articulately answer a variation on the same set of questions, including the height of dwarves, the application of prosthetics and working on a green screen set.

We’re fortunate in the Richard Armitage fandom to have regular IMDb update reports on Armitage’s own ranking, as well as all his current projects, provided each week on tumblr by Sahraobsessed. Scroll through the blog entries, if you wish to track Armitage’s ranking fluctuations.

An odd surprise for me in all this, which really shouldn’t be one at all, is just how large those ranking numbers get- to state the obvious, there are an awful lot of actors out there, all of whom have an IMDb listing, that largely fly beneath the public radar. If I’d been able to screen shot the entire cast, you’d see numbers well into the hundreds of thousands.

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Cast listing for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug showing rankings for 14th April, 2014

There’s plenty to ponder here- the vagaries of the rankings, and how they manifest in terms of public profile. If you rank in the top 50, your photo is displayed in the list of ‘trending celebrities’, further enhancing your already high place in the awareness of the movie going and TV watching public.

13 thoughts on “IMDb- what’s in a number?

  1. Thanks for the shout out. Honestly, I think Micra and I race to see who posts first every single week! Lucky you – you must have signed up for IMDBPro. I typically work harder and on the cheap, because I actually page through the celeb rankings. Probably why I know Richard is ranked between Mads Mickelson and Julia Stiles this week. Last week he ranked one above Ryan Gosling. Cheers!

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    • You’re welcome- I look forward to your report every week. That’s just the point, though- I haven’t signed up for anything! Maybe I have magic fingers on my ipad, because I just touched the extra link, and up came all the info- couldn’t believe it. Just checked, and it still works, so go try it. Only works for film or TV entries, not actors’ names.

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  2. From what I understand about IMDb, the ranking changes week by week, day by day.
    RA is getting a lot of momentum right now from the recent casting news and such. Hence the higher ranking. The more the said actor is in the “news” AND the more the actor is being scouted by agents and such, the higher the ranking. I don’t think fans clicking on the actor’s page increases its ranking (sadly).
    Freeman was ranking higher last week with the Fargo and Richard III buzz.
    And lucky you to be signed up for IMDb pro 🙂

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    • I just looked at IMDb today (April 15th) and RA’s ranking shows a red arrow down and he’s Top 500 (again) – sigh. Is it the same on IMDbPro KatherineD?

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    • Richard was down by 73 this week on the week before, so I don’t begin to understand it. Do people use IMDb to look up actors who are rumoured to be cast in a play, which is where we were at with RA news almost a week ago? I would’ve thought Wikipedia myself, but I don’t know.

      As I said to Sahra, I’m not signed up for anything- it just works if you click on the link.

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      • Right. I’ve clicked on it before and it would say to sign up for IMDbPro and this time it does show the first page. Thanks K! Hope the link helps 🙂

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        • I found it interesting to look up tv shows as well- on the whole, movie actors seem to generate more buzz than tv actors, but of course there are many exceptions- I think Manu Bennett ranks highly from his part in the tv show Arrow. I was surprised the cast of Downton Abbey didn’t rank higher than they did.

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          • Right. Yes, see that’s why I think fans don’t necessarily count. Because as fans, they are clicking on that page nearly everyday to chat up on the message board or to look up projects/news or what have you. Seems to be a cumulative thing and there is an algorithm based on the clicks. Soo….hard to say really. *head scratch*
            But the ranking does go up when the actor name is tossed about and when it pops up in the “latest news” section of the IMDb page.

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            • So maybe if you’re an actor in a long running tv show, you only really get a bump at the start of a new season when the show’s being promoted heavily. Unless you’re someone who gets lots of mentions in gossip columns, of course.

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              • Yes, I think so too.
                I think RA’s ranking was up higher last week mainly because of The Hobbit: DoS DVD promos more so than his recent casting news. Although that does help generate more clicks. IMDb is a great site for movie and tv show info and the actors as well 😉

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