I place quite a bit of weight on the ‘User Rating’ figure on IMDB. For as long as I can remember, the top three places have been occupied by The Shawshank Redemption, The Godfather, and The Godfather: Part II, with the first two occasionally swapping places. As I write, The Godfather is slightly ahead, although both have a score of 9.1 on the IMDB Top 250 list. Both score 9.2 on their own home pages. The reason for the difference is that only ‘regular voters are counted for the Top 250 list.
When a new movie appears, especially a widely viewed one, it tends to overshoot a little on first entry and then more considered votes over time draw it down a little. For instance, The Simpsons Movie launched straight onto the Top 250 list with an eight-point-something. Within a few weeks it had fallen off and by now it has settled on a reasonable score of 7.7.
But what am I to make of The Dark Knight? After its opening day it already has 23,000 votes and a User Rating of 9.7! Even from regular voters it scores 9.5 and is thus on top of the list. It will be interesting to see how it progresses, and if it maintains the number one position. At the moment, 80.8% of the voters have given it 10/10.
UPDATE (Monday, 21 July 2008, 12:57 pm): Voting on The Dark Knight is now up to nearly 47,000. The User Rating remains on 9.7. The proportion voting 10/10 has declined slightly from 80.8% to 80%.
UPDATE 2 (Tuesday, 22 July 2008, 10:29 pm): The descent has commenced. Now with over 69,000 votes The Dark Knight‘s User Rating has slipped to 9.6 (it remains on 9.5 on the Top 250 list). The proportion voting 10/10 has fallen further to 78.4%. Mind you, nearly 95% of voters have given it 8/10 or better.
I haven’t seen the movie, but I do have to wonder: what’s up with the 2.2% who’ve given it 1/10? Using the ‘Hated It’ filter for user comments revealed quite a few thoughtful comments from those voting 1/10. I get the impression that the actual figure voted by these people was less a considered judgement about the film that a protest vote against its strong showing.
UPDATE 3 (Wednesday, 23 July 2008, 10:06 am): The descent continues: 91,097 votes, User Rating 9.5 (9.4 on the Top 250 list). The proportion voting 10/10 is now 76.8%. Those voting 1/10 is 2.6%. Older people seem to be less enthusiastic about the movie, as are IMDB staff and the ‘Top 1000 Voters’.
UPDATE 4 (Thursday, 24 July 2008, 9:52 pm): The rate of decline slows: nearly 105,000 votes, User Rating remains 9.5 (and 9.4 on the Top 250 list). The proportion voting 10/10 has fallen further to 75.8%, while those voting 1/10 has increased to 2.9%. My guess is that the movie will settle on 9.5, or possibly 9.4, at least for the next couple of months. It may drop again significantly after it is introduced to a new audience when released on DVD/Blu-ray.
UPDATE 5 (Friday, 25 July 2008, 5:17 pm): We are now at 115,000 votes and still the User Rating sits on 9.5 (9.4 on the Top 250 list). The proportion voting 10/10 is now 75%, while those voting 1/10 amount to 3.0%.
UPDATE 6 (Monday, 28 July 2008, 9:50 am): Skipped a couple of days. Now it’s Monday and the voting is at 146,000. According to Box Office Mojo (www.boxofficemojo.com) , The Dark Knight made $US75.6 million at the US box office in this, its second, weekend. That was more than double the next place on the income ladder. The User Rating has slid to 9.4 (9.3 on the Top 250 list). The proportion voting 10/10 has slipped quite a distance to 71.8%, while those voting 1/10 amount to 3.2%.
UPDATE 7 (Tuesday, 29 July 2008, 12:11 pm): Vote: 156,000. User Rating (front page): 9.4. User Rating (Top 250): 9.3. The proportion voting 10/10: 70.8%. Those voting 1/10: 3.2%.
UPDATE 8 (Thursday, 31 July 2008, 11:53 am): Vote: 173,000. User Rating (front page): 9.3. User Rating (Top 250): 9.2. The proportion voting 10/10: 69.1%. Those voting 1/10: 3.3%.
UPDATE 9 (Thursday, 7 August 2008, 8:45 am): Vote: 207,000. User Rating (front page): 9.3. User Rating (Top 250): 9.1. The proportion voting 10/10: 66.2%. Those voting 1/10: 3.7%.
UPDATE 10 (Thursday, 6 May 2010, 3:20 pm [yes, over a year later]): Vote: 437,000. User Rating (front page): 8.9 User Rating (Top 250): 8.8. The proportion voting 10/10: 53.4%. Those voting 1/10: 3.6%. Position 10 on Top 250.