How to scrape IMDb with an unofficial IMDb API

The IMDb API has some crucial limitations for data extraction. Here's an alternative that overcomes those limits 💪


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What is IMDb?

IMDb (Internet Movie Database) is a repository of data about movies, TV series, video games, and more. It’s packed with information on movie plots, cast actors, and ratings. It contains heaps of user-generated content, such as descriptions, stars, and reviews. The IMDb API allows you to download all this information in a JSON file to your device, but it has its limitations. Read on to find a cheaper, faster, and easier way to scrape IMDb.

Why scrape IMDb?

Scraping IMDb allows you to get structured data about movies, TV shows, and video games that you can visualize in many different programs, from Tableau to Excel. There are endless ways and reasons to scrape data from IMDb. Here are just a few:

  • Sentiment analysis: you may want to collect ratings and reviews to get a sense of the reception a movie or TV show got or the level of appreciation for a certain genre. A quantitative analysis of stars or a qualitative analysis of the reviews could constitute a good source of information. IMDb Scraper extracts ratings and reviews for you in a structured data format, so you can quickly sort through them and make the analysis smoother.
  • Market research: you are on the lookout for the highest-rated movies and genres to appropriately target your movie’s merchandise or to write your next screenplay. With IMDb Scraper, you can extract data by genre and sort the results by ratings, for example, which will allow you to get a quick overview of the latest trends.
  • Movie aggregator app: you may be developing an app for movies, TV series, and video games, where users can log what they have watched and what they are planning to watch, together with their ratings and reviews. Customized API access to the largest data repository on the topic will come in handy to provide content for your app.
Scrape IMDb data with this unofficial IMDb API

While web scraping is legal, you still need to comply with international regulations. Regulations such as GDPR or CCPA deal with the accumulation of personal information, while DSM Directive and Fair Use doctrine aim to protect copyrighted content.

To learn more about the legal side of web scraping, check out our blog post on the subject ➜

Does IMDb allow scraping?

There is nothing illegal about scraping publicly available data. Some websites may prohibit scraping in their terms of use but if they are in a form of browsewrap agreement, the prohibition has hardly any legal implication.

Are website terms of use enforced? ➜

Does IMDb have an API?

IMDb has three APIs that allow you to extract information to analyze data such as movie titles, tv show titles, cast, and box office results. They let you choose one or more packages of APIs based on the information you want to extract, for which you pay a monthly subscription.

However, IMDb API has two crucial limitations. The first being that the packages are not customizable. They are ready-made, and you can’t modify the type and quantity of information that you are going to extract. Secondly, the IMDb API is not free, and IMDb API subscriptions are quite pricey.

Luckily, there are many alternatives that allow you to easily scrape IMDb data for lower prices. At the top of this list, we have Apify’s IMDb Scraper.

How do I extract data from IMDb?

IMDb Scraper allows you to extract information from the IMDb database. All you have to do is provide it with an IMDb URL to scrape. Let’s go through the steps together.

Looking for a more advanced scraper that allows for multiple starting URLs? Try IMDb Advanced Scraper! ➜

Step 1. Find IMDb Scraper on Apify Store

Apify Store is a marketplace with hundreds of ready-made scraping and automation tools. Find IMDb Scraper and click Try for free. In case you don’t have an Apify account, you’ll be prompted to create one.

screenshot of IMDb Scaper on Apify Store with mouse hovering over the "Try for free" button
You can find all sorts of web scraping and automation tools on Apify Store

Step 2. Choose an IMDb URL (or URLs)

You can scrape IMDb with both search URLs and links to specific titles. If you want to make your search URL as specific as possible, we recommend using IMDb’s Advanced Title Search. Simply choose the desired filters and generate your link by clicking Search at the bottom of the page.

Screenshot of IMDb search results filtered by titles with a user rating of over 9.0
In our example, we generated a search URL for titles with a rating of over 9.0

Step 3. Fill out the input and run the scraper

Now just paste the URL into the input of the scraper and hit Save & Start. Note that you’ll be prompted to start a free trial since the IMDb Scraper is a paid actor. But don’t worry, no credit card is required!

screenshot of a filled out input schema for IMDb Scraper on Apify Console
You can further customize the actor’s input by changing the default proxy settings and adding custom functionality via the “Extend output” feature

Step 4. Download your IMDb data

Time to get your data! After the actor run is finished, simply click Export results and choose your desired format.

And that’s it! While using the trial, you can extract more than 15,000 results until your free plan’s credit runs out. You can also integrate the scraper with other tools, or schedule its runs to fully automate your workflow. Don’t forget to check out other tools on Apify Store - including the IMDb Advanced Scraper, if you want your search to be even more specific.

Mariachiara Faraon
Mariachiara Faraon
Writer, cultural analyst, gatherer & teller of stories. Passionate about human rights and equality, and curious about how communication and AI can affect them.

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