The Wonderful World of Movie Websites

There are many movie discussion forums on the internet, which range from those that discuss everything to those that concentrate on a certain genre – such as the silents, classic horror or science fiction. On one of these forums, someone mentioned that there was a website that featured information on the H. G. Wells novel The War of the Worlds (1898) and any and all adaptions that had been made from it.

I was a bit chagrined to read this, as I had been contemplating writing a research article on that very subject. I should have known that such a website would have existed, however, as these days the Internet is a tremendous source of informational websites (some of those providing reliable information, some not, as with all things).

Unfortunately (or fortunately, now I come to think of it), the poster hadn’t bothered to give the URL, or even the precise title for the site. Rather than go to a search engine, I decided to see what would happen if I just typed into the address bar. I did so, hit enter, and found myself looking at the official website for the new Steven Spielberg/Tom Cruise movie.

And it was a very striking site…not to mention sight!

The movie’s melancholy theme music plays as you look at a full screen of destruction – the airplane that crashed when the aliens made their first attack that shut all machinery down), with a flame burning slowly and steadily. Move your mouse over the dimmed choices and they brighten to life:

About the film, Media (trailers and tv spots), Survival Game (a game I didn’t feel in the mood to play), Downloads (wallpapers, posters, screensavers, and icons. What – no ringtones?), Photos, Features (external sites from AOL and yahoo: the radio adaption by Orson Welles, a yahoo environment, and two sets of Spielberg/Cruise interviews, Partners (companies that helped create the website), and a Trivia game (which I flunked, unfortunately. Well, they didn’t ask the right questions!).

I saw War of the Worlds once and while I liked it, it was simply too grim to see again. So I wasn’t in the mood for any of the extras I saw here. But I decided that I’d surf the web and compare movie websites, and see if there were really cool ones and ones that…weren’t so cool.

I’d just seen Mr. And Mrs. Smith for the second time, and I liked it tremendously (for all that I did have a few feminist issues with it – but that’s the subject for another article I’ll be writing shortly.) Anyway, I typed in and this time got nothing. Well, I got an advertising page…but not the movie’s website. So I went to the Internet Movie Database ( and found it there.

Actually, I found the URLs for two sites. There’s one for the U.S….and one for Russia, which I thought was really interesting. Why Russia? Anyway, after checking that out and not being able to understand the Cyrillic script, not that I’d expected to, I went to the U.S. site, which is at . Well, let’s make it impossible to find it intuitively, shall we?

Anyway, on this page, you can view the site in eight languages. Count ’em, eight. English, English outside North America, French, Portuguese, Castillian Spanish, Latin American Spanish, Japanese and Korean!

When I first saw the two versions in English, I laughed. I thought that there’d be ‘Britishisms’ in the one but not in the other. But that wasn’t the case. The English site has advertisements for Mobile Phones and Broadband, which the English outside North America site didn’t.

There’s complete silence as the page loads….searching for targets…targets located. Then a cool flash version and quick synopsis of the plot in the form of selected soundbytes: “You’ve just been identified by a competing agent.” “Come on baby, come to daddy.” “Who’s your daddy now?”

Quickly, though, we get to the main screen, with Mrs. Smith on the left and Mr. Smith on the right. Once again we’re treated to the theme music (over and over again) as we scan the screen to make our choices: About the Movie (cast and crew, filmmakers, soundtrack). Meet The Smiths (their characters. Very cool, with videos, etc.). The Dossier (Movie clips, Behind the scenes info). Assignments (wallpapers, buddy icons for AOL Instant Messenger – what, no ring tones?). Trailers. Click on Mobile and you can download a Mr. And Mrs. Smith Assassination Game for your phone.

Well, I will not play games on my cellphone, so I decided to search out another movie website. (Before I do that, however, let me warn you about the Mr. And Mrs. Smith soundtracks. There are two of them. One, in a white CD case, provides the songs played in the movie (from Softcell’s Tainted Love to Captain and Tennille’s Love Will Keep Us Together. The other CD, released in a black case (but with the pose of Mr. And Mrs. Smith the same) provides the actual music score, composed by John Powell.

Next, I decided to try to find Madagascar, a movie I’d seen and hadn’t cared for. (I’m middle aged, but what can I say, I like animated movies). If I’d viewed the movie website first would it have saved me my matinee money?

Back to the IMDB, which revealed that there were sites in English, German, French and Spanish. I chose English.

is the URL.

This one is much less high-tech than my previous two examples. We get the penguins (the best part of the movie, in my opinion), voiced by the same actors as in the movie. “Hey, kids, this is the Madagascar website. Now nter this website, Private.”. “But I don’t know the code, Skipper.” “Nah, you just click on it, with the mouse.” Kowalski: “I did it!”

And then silence until you choose to enter the site. Or, you can “Check out the soundtrack,” “Vote in the ultimate Madagascar dance off”, or read “Secrets of the Super Agent: Exclusive Interview with the Skipper”. I confess, I decided to go there first. Ya gotta love those penguins. Unfortunately the interview was too brief, and it was print, without the Skipper’s inimitable delivery.

“You guys truly work as a team – a well-oiled military machine. What is your motto or philosophy?”
“Look sharp, feel sharp, be sharp. Hence the tuxes.”

Then I entered the site, and that’s when I got the flash animation, and then the ‘good stuff.’ Choose Video for trailers, teasers, featurettes and clips from the movie. Gallery: selected photo stills. About the film: cast, filmmakers, etc. Fun and Learning: Explore the real Madagascar, games and activities. Characters – self-explanatory. Downloads: wallpapers, screen saver, and AIM icons – that is to say, AOL icons.

And while you’re viewing this you get the sounds of the jungle…I’d prefer the sounds of ocean waves pounding on a beach, but that’s just me.

A fun site – if you liked the movie.

Then I decided to visit a website for a movie that hadn’t yet hit the theaters. I’d kept seeing trailers for Red-Eye, and although this isn’t the type of movie I like, I decided to give it a try. Back to the IMDB for the site URL:

The intro, which you can choose to skip, is flash animation of the movie, the titles, then the woman’s hand pressed against the airplane window, before the man’s hand jerks it away. Then, the site. And what do you get? Synopsis (in teeny tiny print), Trailers, and Photos. That’s it. Well, the movie’s not due to hit the theaters until August 19, at which time I assume all the usual stuff will be there.

Next, I decided to see if a movie in the past would still have its website up. I chose The Incredibles, which I love because of Nomanisan Island, which reminded me so much of the island from the classic Thunderbirds tv series, and the character of Edna Mode. (“Go! Confront the problem! Fight! Win! And call me when you get back.”)

And the website is indeed still there, though now it is advertising the DVD release. (I found the URL at the IMDB of course, debating whether to check out the site in Japanese, French, English English, or American. I opted for American.)

is the URL.

There’s little animated tags for About the DVD, video clips (includes the classic “No Capes!” scene between Edna and Mr. Incredible, which made me happy) as well as the influence of Brad Bird (the director) and Markisms (one of the animators).Games – Thin Ice and Catch Dash. Activities…download iron-ons and coloring pages), downloads – wallpapers, screensavers, icons, an alarmclock for your computer, DVD poster, Mobile phone – finally ring tones! Yes, ring tones for your mobile phone! Including a great one from Edna. “How can it be from someone important, dahling? We are both here!).Also graphics and games for your mobile phone. Now, if only I had a mobile phone….

The site also has the movie stills, and you can even download a media player, with a framing Incredibles design. Cool!

Finally, I decided I simply had to see the site for King Kong, the Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings trilogy) version due out in December, 2005. The hype for this already has been incredible, with the trailer being played on several tv stations…at the same time? I’ve seen the trailer, I’ve liked the trailer. is the URL. (So far there’s only one, in English) And here, though the movie isn’t due out for five more months, there’s a bit more substance than at Red-Eye. There’s the synopsis and the trailert, of course. There’s also downloads – wallpapers, screensavers and AOL buddy icons, photos, and a link to Kong Is King which is a great King Kong site for fans of the original movie as well as this new version. < And, funnily enough, you can order a real credit card with the King Kong logo on it…now if they only had one with Edna Mode…which came with her bank account…

Well, with six movie websites analyzed (kind of), you get the idea.

After you see a movie, make sure you check out its website. There’s bound to be interesting information and insights, but more importantly, lots of fun stuff.

(And, if you’re adventurous, memorize the English version, then visit the versions in other languages and start learning!)

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