Movie news sites looking for the scoop

H'w'd outsiders create, chronical buzz development

Movie news and rumor sites are like Smurfs. There’s a lot of them, and though they all develop a specialty to set each apart, they’re still easy to confuse. But two sites that stand out are Coming Soon and EmpireMovies., launched by Mirko Parlevliet in 1998, is based in Houston but employs several people in Los Angeles who attend screenings and do interviews, which the site offers weekly. Don’t be deceived by the sparseness of the front page, there’s enough on this site to keep you there for a long time.

Parlevliet says the site tries to offer one of the most complete databases of upcoming films, synthesysing everything from rumor sites to the Hollywood trades to the MPAA’s film ratings site to update their listings. Overall, it’s a good place to get an overview of news coverage on any particular title, especially comedy and action films, which appeal to the site’s main audience of young males.

If one thing sets this site apart, it’s the lively discussion on the forums, which teem with passionate if occassionally misinformed commentary.

A family-run operation, Empire Movies is the creation of Liam Cullin, a cinephile outside of Toronto who cites ComingSoon as his insipiration. Cullin’s brothers contribute reviews (as does at least one other close friend) and his sister attends press events, while Liam keeps the site running on a daily basis and programs new features.

On the day Empire Movies posted the latest productions stills from The Two Towers, traffic rocketed to 500,000 visitors. Fan sites in general do tend to see steady visits from wandering Web surfers and hard-core site fans, punctuated by surging traffic spikes when an exclusive tip comes in.

Since 2000, the site has grown steadily, and now has a grand collection of movie posters, in addition to general info about upcoming films. The site has a very small cadre of regular fans, and is trying to grow that base. Design-wise, the site could use a little more flair or a unifying theme.

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