If it wasn’t for the Internet, Greg Dean Schmitz would probably still be a reference-librarian-cum-film-enthusiast in at the public library in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. But one day in 1997, Schmitz remarked that, unless you were interested in a film that was opening in the next few weeks, it was very hard to find information about upcoming movies, and a Web site was born.
Since those days, Greg’s Previews has grown to become one of the larger one-man film sites online, recently out-trafficking Ain’t It Cool News, aintitcool.com, according to comScore Networks for March 2003. But Schmitz’s site now has traffic help; in a quiet deal in December, 2001, Yahoo hired Schmitz full-time and integrated his entire archive into its Movies section. As it stands, Schmitz is one of very few Yahoo employees — they don’t release specific employee counts — who actually creates traditional editorial content, as opposed to managing collections of links. He moved out to Los Angeles in 2002 as part of the deal.
The site is arranged around movie pages, done in Yahoo’s overall clean, stark and graphic-light look with easy-to-read text. Each movie takes up one single large page with Schmitz’s meticulous chronicle of the movie’s path from conception past opening weekend. In the process, he creates a fantastic living document about the movie process; you can determine which studio blinked when two opening dates collided, and you can muse on the what-ifs by looking at early casting choices. The site does a good job of pointing to trailers posted online, and not just the ones provided by Yahoo.
Schmitz doesn’t focus on comic book adaptations to the exclusion of romantic comedies, but his enthusiasm for mainstream Hollywood fare is still apparent; blockbusters, perhaps by the nature of their coverage, costs and machinations, do get updated more frequently than indie projects.
He also provides a very complete release calendar tool, though the calendar’s not really searchable. However, the once-librarian has gone beyond the usual to organize the site so you can browse by writer, distributor, genre or video release date.
The move to Yahoo gave Schmitz’s site the promotional power and technical organization it needed to grow, but the content still hinges on one person, which is why it’s not likely to expand to cover other parts of the biz; Schmitz has a hard enough time keeping up with today’s domestic film release calendar.
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