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How does IMDb work? IMDb Ratings Algorithm Decoded

IMDb, the Internet Movie Database, has become an indispensable tool for movie buffs worldwide. A glance at a film’s IMDb rating can often influence our decision to watch it. With its vast database covering films and web series across different languages, IMDb ratings have become a benchmark for gauging the quality and appeal of a cinematic piece. But have you ever paused to ponder the mechanics behind these ratings? How does IMDb calculate these numbers that hold so much sway over our viewing choices?

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How does IMDb work?

IMDb cover

Contrary to what some might believe, IMDb doesn’t have an internal jury or a panel akin to the Oscar Awards that watches and rates movies. Instead, the power lies in the hands of its vast user base. It’s not IMDb that assigns these ratings; it’s the collective voice of its users.

Every registered IMDb user has the privilege to rate any movie or series. These individual ratings are then aggregated by IMDb to compute the overall rating displayed on a film’s page. However, the process isn’t as straightforward as merely averaging out all the votes. Instead of using a simple arithmetic mean or median, IMDb employs a weighted average system. This ensures that the ratings are not only reflective of the collective opinion but are also resistant to any potential biases or manipulations. IMDb maintains transparency in its approach, asserting that the same methodology is applied across the board, ensuring fairness for every film or series, irrespective of its origin or genre.

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For instance, consider the iconic movie “The Godfather” from 1972. Over 1.5 million IMDb users have rated it, resulting in a weighted average vote of 9.2 out of 10. This figure is the final rating you observe on IMDb’s platform.

For those who crave a deeper dive into the numbers, IMDb doesn’t disappoint. They provide a detailed breakdown of the ratings, segmented by various criteria such as the number of votes, age demographics, gender, and specific ratings. This granular data offers insights into how different groups perceive a particular movie or series.


IMDb’s algorithm is continually refined to ensure accuracy and relevance. Consider a hypothetical scenario where a new release receives a perfect score from its first 100 raters. While the arithmetic average might be a perfect 10, this doesn’t mean the film will immediately eclipse classics like “The Shawshank Redemption” in IMDb’s rankings. Such safeguards ensure that the ratings remain robust and meaningful.

imdb rating algorithm

Currently, for a movie to feature in IMDb’s esteemed “Top 250” list, it needs to garner at least 25,000 votes. This threshold ensures that only films with a broad consensus make the cut, further emphasizing the democratic nature of IMDb’s rating system.

In conclusion, IMDb’s rating system is a testament to the power of collective opinion. It’s a platform where every movie enthusiast, including you, plays a pivotal role in shaping the perceived value of cinematic creations. So, the next time you’re swayed by an IMDb rating, remember that it’s the voice of millions, including yours, that’s guiding your choice.

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