Sometimes an idea is so straightforward, so obvious, that you almost wonder what took it so long to arrive. It’s hard not to feel that way about Qurator, a movie review and rating app that approaches the industry in a completely different way. When so many internet review sites are filled with vitriol, trolls, and people who haven’t even seen the movies they’re reviewing, it can be difficult to know what reviews to trust. Thomas Eromose Ikimi, the creator of the app, is a filmmaker and fan who wanted to find a more straightforward way for fans to find movies they’ll love. In Qurator, he’s created a user-friendly vehicle to validate reviews and let you connect with other fans, allowing you to discover new movies without the guesswork.
“Obviously movies have become really big business and the way that people decide what to watch is strongly influenced by what critics, reviewers, and the general public say — but the general public is being filtered and distilled through forums like IMDB, Netflix, and so on,” Ikimi tells What We Seee. “And there’s a very tight control these establishments have on the way that those reviews are processed. For example, Netflix removed the ability for users to rate and review films and replaced it with the thumbs up and thumbs down mechanism that is only there to determine what the platform recommends to you.”
Even with sites like Rotten Tomatoes, which has an “official rating”, aggregated from critics, and a “user rating” coming from users, things aren’t very clear. “They’ve become increasingly discrepant,” Ikimi says. “So you might have a 30 percent rating for critics and 90 percent for users — or a 90 percent rating for critics and 30 percent for users. Clearly, there’s a massive disconnect between what people like and what critics say you should like.” When Ikimi saw the response to The Force Awakens, with such a massive rift between critics and a large section of fans, it was clear that there had to be a better way.
Movie Ratings You Can Trust
The concept behind Qurator is simple: to rate a movie you have to prove you’ve seen the movie. You take a quiz on the movie you’re trying to rate, made up of questions from other film fans — you get two chances to pass the quiz and, if you fail to get a minimum of 51 percent the first time, then you have to score at least 75 percent the second time for it to count as a pass. Fail both times, and you have to qualify on five other films before you can try that film again.
The quizzes are quick and fun, but the gamification of the app serves multiple purposes. Firstly, it ensures the integrity of reviews by making sure that only people who have seen the film can contribute to its score. But it also creates a social network and allows you to grow your profile — the more films you become validated on, the more prestige points you rank up. Ikimi has tapped into two crucial aspects of film fandom: any film fan loves showing off their knowledge — and they love finding other fans who are just as dedicated as they are. Qurator lets you do both.
The app fosters a sense of community and allows you to add users to a group and create your own “Movie Club”. In one swift motion, Qurator creates an effective rating tool and a social platform that will appeal to the most enthusiastic of film fans.
Ikimi, who is also an experienced coder and software developer, knew just how to make the vision a reality — and built the prototype that the app is based on. With the passion and technological knowledge, he was able to put the project into motion and he found support in his vision from old university friend Brandon Victor Dixon — an accomplished actor, with an impressive resume that includes Hamilton, Motown, NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar, Fox’s RENT and Starz’s POWER. Dixon not only provided invaluable support as development continued, but also introduced Ikimi to Ashley Monet who now runs the day-to-day operations. They have both been critical additions to the venture and are responsible for helping him realise his dream.
For Film Lovers From A Film Lover
How has Ikimi tapped so deeply into the needs of fans? Because he is, at his core, a huge fan himself. “I was a big movie fan before I even got into movies, my father was a movie collector, so we had thousands of films… we would watch movies every day,” he explains. But it wasn’t until he was at university in New York that a push from his brother propelled him to get into the industry. “I had thought about it, but he was the person who really made me take a shot. He gave me Memento and that was the movie that really made me finally get into it. I was doing English and philosophy at university and it wasn’t until then that I realized you could make a movie out of an idea.”
When that clicked, a successful movie career followed. He made an existential thriller for nine thousand dollars on his student credit card while still at university, which attracted huge attention on the festival circuit in 2005. In 2010, he released Legacy starring Idris Elba, which solidified his spot on the film scene after appearing at Tribeca and Raindance and getting nominated for a British Independent Film Award. He then went on to work in TV, successfully selling projects to NBC Universal, Legendary, FOX and SKY. Ikimi continues to work as a writer and director with his recent short films Nostradamus and The Locksmith gaining critical acclaim, the former garnering Oscar buzz after its release and two million views within a few weeks online.
But more than just being in the industry, the true film fan in Ikimi has been driving him to challenge the way the commodification of film has created an unfair, misleading, and toxic rating system. With the technical skill in place and a desire for more integrity in the industry, he knew that an app like Qurator was the answer.
The Golden Age
Beyond the gamification, beyond the intuitiveness of the app, when you speak to Ikimi it’s clear that there’s a bigger driving force at play — fairness. An innate sense of (and desire for) fairness means he wants to create a better platform for both the films and the fans. Currently, trolling and toxicity have taken over a lot of review sites, with people leaving reviews out of prejudice, without even seeing the film. “I feel like it’s wrong for say, a white demographic that doesn’t watch black films to be dictating the quality and standard of black films to black audiences,” he explains. “I think it’s wrong for men who have no interest in watching certain female movies to be dictating what women see when they go to look at reviews of those movies… I feel like it’s the audiences who are actually fans of these things — or at least watch these movies — who should be dictating the score for those movies. At least, on a basic level, people who have seen the film. Don’t get me wrong, if a troll is desperate to troll he will study a film and pass the test, but that’s the point. We are raising the threshold. The effort it takes to qualify on our platform removes 90 percent of trolls, and those that remain have to work harder to spread their prejudice, which is effectively minimised in impact on an overall rating.”
In a world where an equal playing field has become almost impossible to find — especially in an industry as heavily monetized as film — Qurator is a bold move towards a simpler, fairer time. “At the end of the 70s and the early 80s you had the beginning of the blockbuster film, but the blockbuster hadn’t really taken over the entire industry. You had Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Close Encounters — you had these movies, but you still had vestiges of the golden age of cinema. In the golden age a movie would come out and word of mouth and reviews would propel people to keep going. Movies would be in the cinema for two years — movies would just stay in the cinema as long as people were going to watch them. They’d build money over a longer, protracted period of time… so it was really important that a movie was actually good. Because it was good movies that made money. It was good movies that people wanted to see. I want this app to help return us back to that philosophy.” It sounds so simple, but Qurator is the first app to provide a platform for good movies to really thrive — and to help the fans find them.