Why Not International Standard Movie Numbers?

We’ve got ISBNs and ISSNs, I think it’s time to devise a system for tracking movies.

I’d like to see an ISMN for a number of reasons, chief among them that it would allow me to track movies I want to see far more easily. As it is, I have a collection of random text files, a category in Gjots, a few entered in IMDb’s “My Movies”, and of course the various scraps of paper.

Step 1 would be to consolidate those, of course, but step 2 would be to start providing tools that would keep track of the ISMNs, and then be on the lookout. Knowing that I was interested in seeing a film, my computer (or mobile phone, or whatever) could scan movie listings, Amazon/Netflix availability, and television schedules, returning relevant information as it comes in.

A unique serial number would prevent annoying glitches such as the one I spotted on Y! Movies the other day, in which they claimed my local theater was showing the 1995 release entitled Man of the House starring Chevy Chase, when in fact it was the unrelated 2005 film with Tommy Lee Jones. Harmless, perhaps, as there wasn’t a chance in hell I’d see either picture, but still an avoidable error.

ISMNs would also enable another dream of mine: differentiating versions. Almost two years ago, I suggested creating a list of DVD differences. My ISMN idea is a superset of that proposal, identifying both the film itself (with a major number) and the release version (minor.)

So say we have a code like 52.2001.1920.2.1 or even MX-2001-1920-ES-UR1. The first group could identify country of origin (Mexico), the second, year of release (2001), the third the serial, the fourth the spoken language (Espanol), and the final could differentiate between theatrical, pan and scan, unrated, airplane edition, edited for length for TV, and whatever else.

I could create my movie list and instruct my electronic agent to keep on the lookout for the films I wanted to see, and set certain parameters I would be willing to accept (say, has to have English subtitles, but can be rated or unrated.) Also, it would be a great way to share reviews with friends and even shopping sites. Why slave over Amazon reviews when you could write up a post on your own site, tag it with the ISMN, and then let Google or Amazon pick it up in a scan?

While we’re on the subject, it would also greatly simplify finding the official movie sites for films. (Why do we not have a .film domain extension? I’m so tired of BlahBlahMovie.com or WankSpanktheFilm.net.) Pop the ISMN into Google, you could get the official page for that film, or the nearest thing to it, working from most to least specific.

I recognize this is horribly esoteric, but I hope the studios similarly recognize that the more ways they provide to keep track of their releases, the better the chance they’re going to get watched.

Update [Sat 03:09]: If I didn’t care if the number itself had meaning (and I don’t; ISBNs don’t) I suppose I could follow IMDb‘s numbering. A couple of years ago they went from links like http://www.imdb.com/Title?Se7en+(1995) to http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114369, where the prefix ‘tt’ denotes a film (a person is ‘nm’). Other sites, such as Rotten Tomatoes, accept this numbering standard as well: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/alias?type=imdbid&s=0114369 works, for example.

Now if only somebody would break up the different versions by content, language, and country…

Hit Me With It


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