The Movie Database Support

Hello everyone,

It's finally time to take a look at the genres we use and make some tweaks. This post might get a little lengthy but I'll try to cover what I know right now.

First, here's a list of the movie genres on TMDb:

TMDb

  • Action
  • Adventure
  • Animation
  • Comedy
  • Crime
  • Documentary
  • Drama
  • Family
  • Fantasy
  • Foreign
  • History
  • Horror
  • Music
  • Mystery
  • Romance
  • Science Fiction
  • TV movie
  • Thriller
  • War
  • Western

And if we wanted to compare this list to some other sources online...

Rotten Tomatoes

  • Action & Adventure
  • Adult
  • Animation
  • Anime & Manga
  • Art House & International
  • Classics
  • Comedy
  • Cult Movies
  • Documentary
  • Drama
  • Faith & Spirituality
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Horror
  • Kids & Family
  • Musical & Performing Arts
  • Mystery & Suspense
  • Romance
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • Special Interest
  • Sports & Fitness
  • Television
  • Western

IMDb

  • Action
  • Adventure
  • Animation
  • Biography
  • Comedy
  • Crime
  • Documentary
  • Drama
  • Family
  • Fantasy
  • Film-Noir
  • Game-Show
  • History
  • Horror
  • Music
  • Musical
  • Mystery
  • News
  • Reality-TV
  • Romance
  • Sci-Fi
  • Sport
  • Talk-Show
  • Thriller
  • War
  • Western

Amazon

  • Action & Adventure
  • African American Cinema
  • Animation
  • Anime
  • Boxed Sets
  • Classics
  • Comedy
  • Documentary
  • Drama
  • Educational
  • Exercise & Fitness
  • Faith & Spirituality
  • Fantasy
  • Foreign Language & International
  • Gay & Lesbian
  • Holiday & Seasonal
  • Horror
  • Indie & Art House
  • Kids & Family
  • Military & War
  • Music Videos & Concerts
  • Science Fiction
  • Special Interests
  • Sports

Onbviously, one of the things you might notice is that there are actually other genres in use on TMDb, but are not located in the above list. This is part of what we need to look at.

My initial proposal for TMDb's new set of genres is going to be the following:

  • Action
  • Adventure
  • Animation
  • Biography
  • Comedy
  • Crime
  • Documentary
  • Drama
  • Family
  • Fantasy
  • Film-Noir
  • Holiday
  • History
  • Horror
  • Musical
  • Music Videos & Concerts
  • Mystery
  • Romance
  • Science Fiction
  • Thriller
  • War
  • Western

Do you guys have anything else you think deserves to be on this list?

81 replies (on page 1 of 6)

Jump to last post

Next pageLast page

Hello Travis,

The only ones I would add are below with reason:

Adult = This could be an extra field to filter out that porn movies. I am aware of the adult table you have but both would help caught them more.

Kid = This would be good for films like toy Story, Finding Nemo, Shrek.

Sport = This would be good for the wrestling films you have in the database.

Regards,

Dale.

Hey Dale,

Adult is probably not going to happen because if we provide 2 ways of doing 1 thing, then people are likely only to do 1 of the 2 and we'll just be back to where we are now. Plus, now to check if an item is adult we only check 1 attribute where if we changed it, we would have to check 2 places.

For "Kid", is there a reason why "Family" doesn't fit the bill?

Finally, for "Sport" I can see this as being potentially useful. We actually have both "Sport" and "Sports Film" right now. I'm wondering what the best way to clean these up would be? Kind of like the difference between Musicals and a Music video.

Hello Travis,

OK, fair point on Adult.

Kid, yes films like I said are kids age group but a film like "Honey, I shrunk the kids", might be seen as a teen movie. I would put "Honey, I shrunk the kids" into family but put "Finding Nemo" into kids. The way I look at it is films you would leave babies in-front of are kids films. Kids over the age of about 8 are a little more violent or scary , so might watch with parents or other kid friends.

I would go with Sport. I don't see the WWE stuff as films just a show.

With the music one I would go with Musicals only. As this is a theater and movie site not music videos as I understand, correct me if i am wrong.

Have you considered a more radical re-think of genres?

Taking a quick look at the forum, there's already been some discussion that "Foreign" makes no sense as a genre. I'm based in Beijing, so aren't all Hollywood films "Foreign"? I guess here "Foreign" means non-English language, but isn't that just taking on a legacy genre definition from a different age that shouldn't apply anymore? Without accusations of ethnocentricity, isn't it just a bit "off" for an international film database? If users want to search for non-English films, couldn't that be implemented some other way, like unchecking an "English-language" checkbox on a search for films by language?

Another board member suggested that Martial Arts be added as a genre. Just as there are Chinese westerns (THE SWORDSMAN IN DOUBLE FLAG TOWN, THE GOOD THE BAD THE WEIRD, LET THE BULLETS FLY, AN INACCURATE MEMOIR, etc), there are Western martial arts films (KILL BILL, etc). Every film industry around the world has its specific genres, but the current systems just privilege those that originated in the West over those that originated in the East. But where does it end? Should Wuxia be a category distinct from "Martial Arts"? You can argue that South Korea has a "Melodrama" genre distinct from "Drama".

I actually feel that one should bite the bullet and radically reduce the number of genres. It opens up much more freedom for designers (spiders charts, pie charts, etc), but also makes a film database more useable for everyone. Who really searches for Mystery films on a Friday night as distinct from Thriller or Crime movies? I'm curious. Is there a list of the most commonly searched genres we can use? As a starting point, I'd take a look at the following infographic (http://tdylf.com/2011/12/26/infographic-the-complete-list-of-film-sub-genres/) and consider having around 8-10 top-tier genres but hundreds of sub-genres if necessary.

Extending this reduction, I think there should be consideration of Formats in addition to Genres. For me, Animation, Documentary and TV Movie are just forms of media. An animation can still be a romantic comedy, a thriller, etc. By having an Animation genre, it just encourages lazy categorisation instead of forcing people to think. While a genre has certain boundaries that define it (if one that is changing over time and across film cultures), the definition of Animation and TV Movie is quite clear. For the category of Format, I'd also include Short Films, Concert Films and perhaps even 3-D and Omnibus.

I've always had a problem with Family as a genre. I know sales agents like it, and sell "family films" at Cannes, etc, to buyers who are specifically looking for the "genre". I tend to think of films as belonging in certain sales, festival or distribution business categories, such as gay films, children's films, experimental films, midnight films and even music/women/food themes. Perhaps this is being too meta and is itself arbitrary but it's great for certain users who have specific requirements. Show me films suitable for midnight slots. I guess I can't define what a "family film" is, but can recognise it when I see it. Still, I'm uncomfortable with it.

I'm also uncomfortable with History being a genre category. I think there is merit in categorising a film as Period or Modern separate from genre classifications. In Japan, I'd argue that Period films might be pre-1868, in China pre-1911. In Japan they call them jidai geki. I want to know how many films produced in Japan in 2012 were period films and be able to compare that with China without caring about specific cut-off dates. You can't have a Contemporary category, because a film made in the 1970s doesn't make sense to be labeled as Contemporary now for the purpose of search. Separately, I'm also interested in City vs Rural films as separate dimensions.

I actually manage my own database of 50,000 Asian films that I've compiled over 20 years, so genre definitions is something I think about a lot and also struggle with. For my own database, I'm erring towards a radical simplification so that one can more easily chart the box office of Mainland China comedy films over a certain quarter, the sales growth of South Korean thrillers to Europe, etc. From the Infographic linked to above, I'll probably want to merge Fantasy with Science Fiction as a single category, adding Romance and perhaps Thrillers, but dropping several others for just 8 key genres:

  • Action/Adventure
  • Comedy
  • Crime
  • Drama/Melodrama
  • Horror
  • Fantasy/Science Fiction
  • Romance
  • Thriller

I also think that every genre categorisation should be marked as "weak" or "strong", such that a film is primarily a "Horror" and "Comedy", but has "Romance" elements, etc. One could still classify a film as a "black comedy" and have it turn up in "comedy" searches, etc. I know there are major flaws in the above, but that comes about from trying to make a system of something that defies easy categorisation. But if one is going to make an arbitrary list of the hundreds of genres that exist, let's make it a short one. Again, I'd be interested in data on what genres people actually search for on IMDb or TMDb, etc.

Stephen Cremin (Film Business Asia)

Hi Stephen,

I did already remove foreign as you'll see in my proposed list.

I think the difference between mystery/thriller/crime is worth discussing. I'm noticing that Rotten Tomatoes lumps all 3 of these into "Mystery & Suspense". This might be a good answer.

Family, or some variation of is required in my opinion. And as per Dale's question, maybe we should just call it "Kids & Family". I know that when I'm with the family, and we need something kid friendly there's really no other way to narrow that down. I don't think they need to be separated as most will simply end up with both which mostly defeats the purpose.

I don't think martial arts should be a distinct genre. I'm definetely not a believe in more is better. Because you're right, where does it end? We already have plot keywords and I think they are a perfectly fine fit for somehting like a martial arts classification.

With regards to science fiction, I don't think it should be merged with fantasy. They are completely different in my mind. Calling Lord of the Rings a science fiction film is just plain wrong.

Sorry to have missed the drop of Foreign.

In my very reductionist approach, both "science fiction" and "fantasy" films are non-realist genres, that's what connects them. One would include sub-genres that could still be searched on ( Fantasy > Science Fiction -> Space Opera; Fantasy > Sword & Sandals, etc). But maybe you're right and that's being too reductionist and it's good to keep both genres on the top level so to speak. I guess there just aren't many science fiction films in Asia, like Westerns, although there are signs that that is changing.

I like your suggestion of "Mystery & Suspense" to include mystery, thriller and crime genres. Perhaps it could just be called "Crime". I remember reading in a book preface that the word for "crime" in Russian is "crossing a line", and I suspect that the majority of mystery, thrillers and suspense films are actually crime films by that loose definition. Calling it "Crime" also focuses the classifier away from films that have mysterious or suspense elements since the definition of Mystery and Suspense is quite vague.

I think martial arts is a sub-genre of action films. When I'm publishing product listings at film markets, sales companies insist on using Martial Arts as a genre category as distinct from Action. These are the same people that insist on using Family and Animation also, so I'm not claiming to be 100% consistent. But I agree that plot keywords are a good way to go for tagging many possible search terms. Maybe one should just do away with genres all together and just have tags for genres, formats, themes, etc.

I haven't decided how reductionist I'll be when updating my database genres this summer, but the conversation is helpful for me also.

In my mind crime should be kept as a genre, but thriller and mystery could be merged or changed into the Mystery & Suspense suggestion above. It makes sense to watch a crime comedy while a Mystery & Suspense comedy feels wrong.

I also think animation and documentary are essential genres to help a user get an idea about a movie, even if they also are "formats".

Melodrama could easily be added as a keyword.

TV-movie and holiday are the two proposed genres that feel a bit out of place to me, but I know holiday is cherished by many users. Is Behind the Candelabra a TV-movie (HBO) or a regular movie (screened at film festivals and in cinemas in Europe)? I think a TV-movie genre could become a headache after a while.

I didn't realize TV movie stayed on my keep list, that was supposed to be removed.

Hi,

I am quite happy with the new genres. Maybe "Sport" is missing, since we have so many Wresling and other Sport Events in the database.

So here already my German translation:

  • Action => Action
  • Adventure => Abenteuer
  • Animation => Animation
  • Biography => Biografie
  • Comedy => Komödie
  • Crime => Krimi
  • Documentary => Dokumentation
  • Drama => Drama
  • Family => Familie
  • Fantasy => Fantasie
  • Film-Noir => Film-Noir
  • Holiday => Erholung
  • History => Geschichte
  • Horror => Horror
  • Musical => Musical
  • Music Videos & Concerts => Musik Videos & Konzert
  • Mystery => Mystery
  • Romance => Romantik
  • Science Fiction => Science Fiction
  • Thriller => Thriller
  • War => Kriegsfilm
  • Western => Western

... and maybe

  • Sport =>Sport

Where I struggled a bit was with "crime" and "thriller" I hope I got it right. If anybody has a better translation, please correct me. I think that "Action" , "Film-Noir" and "Science Fiction" should stay as it is because the German translation would not describe it probably.

EDIT:

Reply by lineker

In my mind crime should be kept as a genre, but thriller and mystery could be merged

There I struggled to translate it to German. Crime, Mystery and Thriller more or less describing the same kind of movies, I think that this 3 genres will always be used in combination for a movie but to keep it more flexible I would keep them apart.

EDIT 2:

Updated in accordance with Bigtycoons suggestion.

I'm a bit confused. I get a different set of genres compared to the current set and the proposal when visiting http://www.themoviedb.org/genres with my language set to German. Where can I get the current genre list incl. IDs?

I would add sports to the list. Remember that we make an exception in allowing UFC and wrestling entires. Without sport it would not fit any other categorization.

The special interests genre seems intriguing. Does it function as a catch-all for all entries that cannot otherwise be categorized?

If there is one type of declaration I missed since it's removal from the genre list then it's "Short". It's not really a genre but is something that should be noted to movie imho (and not as a tag).

Looks like you're looking to slim down the genre list? If that is the case you could get rid of "Film Noir", "War", "Holiday" and "Western". Their "main" genre is partially included in things like "Crime", "Action", "Adventure", etc.. If really required you could add "Fiction" as a genre for "Science-Fiction" and "Fantasy" but then again, almost all movies are fiction...

I'm from Israel, and when I want to add genres I only got the following genres: Film Noir, Neo-Noir, Road Movie and Short. Can you please help me it drives me crazy!

Hi @Mec!as

My amendments: Crime => Krimi Mystery => Mystery Thriller => Thriller War => Kriegsfilm

The rest of the list is well!

Hi,

I struggled with crime and thriller, but I checked a few sources and I agree with you. I updated my suggestion above: