Box Office Mojo has disappeared from the Internet, and not even one of its former managing partners seems to have any idea what happened to the popular movie information site. For the past 15 years, boxofficemojo.com was a top online destination for thousands of cinephiles who returned time and again for the forums, insider information and algorithm-based film gross data that made the site an indespensable resource for movie insiders and casual fans alike.
But the site lost a little bit of its mojo -- or its least its independence from corporate influence -- in December 2008 when the Amazon.com Inc.-owned film information powerhouse Internet Movie Database (IMDb) purchased Box Office Mojo for an undisclosed sum.
The site has gone through some changes since then, but either late Thursday or early Friday it appears to have entered a whole new era: namely, its demise. Instead of being taken to the site they know and love, people who click on www.boxofficemojo.com and what appears to be any and all of its countless posts since its founding in 1999 are now connected to IMDb's "IMDb Charts" page, which provides limited information about film grosses and box office rankings, long Box Office Mojo's bread and butter.
Even Sean Saulsbury, a digital entrepreneur and former managing partner of Box Office Mojo, doesn't know what happened to the site, according to his recent Twitter history:
I suspect the @boxofficemojo outage is an extended server issue and may be back. May be completely wrong though. If it's gone, RIP.
— Sean Saulsbury (@seanjs) October 10, 2014
— Sean Saulsbury (@seanjs) October 11, 2014
â€” Sean Saulsbury (@seanjs) October 11, 2014
Ironically, the fine print at the bottom of IMDb Charts reads, "[r]eported by Box Office Mojo and Exhibitor Relations © 2013," and a link to "See more box office results at BoxOfficeMojo.com" now simply redirects those who click it to Box Office Mojo's Twitter account.
Neither Box Office Mojo, Amazon, billionaire Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos or Gray appear to have provided any additional information about just what is going on with the site. But the last bit of action on the official Box Office Mojo Twitter account (@boxofficemojo) as of 7 p.m. EST Saturday was a Thursday retweet of an @IMDbPoll tweet touting an IMDb poll:
— IMDb Poll (@IMDbPoll) October 9, 2014
Box Office Mojo was a free clearinghouse for wonky film industry information such as box office results and film release dates that was founded by Brandon Gray in 1999 and operated by Gray and Saulsbury in Los Angeles when Amazon purchased it six years ago, according to Variety, while IMDb provides less detailed statistics.
IMDb users who pay to access the IMDb Pro site can access more detailed information, a fact that has some long-time users of Box Office Mojo alleging or positing on Twitter the apparent removal of Box Office Mojo from the Internet is a ploy by Bezos and Amazon to attract more paid IMDb Pro subscribers:
— Donald Clarke (@DonaldClarke63) October 11, 2014
Even for fans who don't see a greed-fueled conspiracy behind the disappearance of Box Office Mojo, the fact that it's been down since at least Friday has caused a lot of and shock and engendered a lot of outrage at IMDb and Amazon on Twitter:
— Patrick McGown (@P_McGown) October 11, 2014
— Hussain Rahim (@HuRa) October 11, 2014
— Bill G (@voxlumania) October 11, 2014
For now, though, there is a workaround for diehard Box Office Mojo fans who want to access past posts -- they seem to still be available on web.archive.org:
— BoxOffice Tracker (@bxtracking) October 11, 2014
Plus, Amazon could announce this was all just an unfortunate misunderstanding, and boxofficemojo.com could go back up better than ever overnight since there has been no official word on just what exactly is going on. Or it could all go back up, protected by a paywall, perhaps rebranded as IMDb Mojo. Either way, Box Office Mojo's loyal fans want to know what's going on.