Letterboxd, a beloved film reviews and social media platform that took off during the pandemic, has been acquired. Its new owner is a Canadian holding company called Tiny, which promises a “fast, friendly, and simple” process for founders looking for “quick, straightforward exits.”
Letterboxd has been around since 2011, founded by Matthew Buchanan and Karl von Randow, and has grown its user base to around 10 million people — a drop in the bucket compared to bigger, noisier sites, but home to film buffs, critics, and even a few celebrities.
The app is part social media and part personal log — users can record films they watch, write reviews, and comment on and like their friends’ entries, too. If you see all your friends reviewing something, you can add it to your watchlist for later. There’s also a company-run blog where journalists and other writers publish essays, interviews, and other pieces.
The basic tier of Letterboxd is free to use but includes ads. For the truly dedicated, a $19 yearly paid option offers an ad-free experience and year-end lists of watch data, similar to Spotify Wrapped.
In the Times story announcing the sale, a Tiny founder said Letterboxd’s new owners don’t intend to change the business model. But Letterboxd founders say the acquisition will help the company grow and add more features: eventually, it will include the ability to review TV shows in addition to films.
“Aside from the ownership change, and in line with Tiny’s core operating values, very little else will change,” Buchanan wrote in an announcement. “Karl and I are still leading the team, which remains the same, but now has the additional support of a company with vast experience in helping founders through periods of growth, which Letterboxd continues to enjoy. “
Like millions of others, I joined Letterboxd while the pandemic confined me inside and traditional social media felt especially overwhelming and anxiety-inducing. As Fran Hoepfner wrote in The Washington Post earlier this week, Letterboxd is a whatever you want it to be, a digital journal on your own terms — you can follow people and comment on their reviews or not. You can judiciously record everything you see (like several of my friends) or forget to log films for three months and then start back up (like me).
The platform has undergone few changes in the past 10-plus years, which is perhaps why people love it so much. There are no fleeting features or algorithm-driven manufactured rage. Your movie log is for future you or your friends or for nobody in particular — your choice. Here’s hoping it stays that way.