Data interface

The IMDbPY objects that represent movies, people and companies provide a dictionary-like interface where the key identifies the information you want to get out of the object.

At this point, I have really bad news: what the keys are is a little unclear!

In general, the key is the label of the section as used by the IMDb web server to present the data. If the information is grouped into subsections, such as cast members, certifications, distributor companies, etc., the subsection label in the HTML page is used as the key.

The key is almost always lowercase; underscores and dashes are replaced with spaces. Some keys aren’t taken from the HTML page, but are defined within the respective class.

Information sets

IMDbPY can retrieve almost every piece of information of a movie or person This can be a problem, because (at least for the “http” data access system) it means that a lot of web pages must be fetched and parsed. This can be both time- and bandwidth-consuming, especially if you’re interested in only a small part of the information.

The get_movie, get_person and get_company methods take an optional info parameter, which can be used to specify the kinds of data to fetch. Each group of data that gets fetched together is called an “information set”.

Different types of objects have their own available information sets. For example, the movie objects have a set called “vote details” for the number of votes and their demographic breakdowns, whereas person objects have a set called “other works” for miscellaneous works of the person. Available information sets for each object type can be queried using the access object:

>>> from imdb import IMDb
>>> ia = IMDb()
>>> ia.get_movie_infoset()
['airing', 'akas', ..., 'video clips', 'vote details']
>>> ia.get_person_infoset()
['awards', 'biography', ..., 'other works', 'publicity']
>>> ia.get_company_infoset()

For each object type, only the important information will be retrieved by default:

  • for a movie: “main”, “plot”
  • for a person: “main”, “filmography”, “biography”
  • for a company: “main”

These defaults can be retrieved from the default_info attributes of the classes:

>>> from imdb.Person import Person
>>> Person.default_info
('main', 'filmography', 'biography')

Each instance also has a current_info attribute for tracking the information sets that have already been retrieved:

>>> movie = ia.get_movie('0133093')
>>> movie.current_info
['main', 'plot', 'synopsis']

The list of retrieved information sets and the keys they provide can be taken from the infoset2keys attribute:

>>> movie = ia.get_movie('0133093')
>>> movie.infoset2keys
{'main': ['cast', 'genres', ..., 'top 250 rank'], 'plot': ['plot', 'synopsis']}
>>> movie = ia.get_movie('0094226', info=['taglines', 'plot'])
>>> movie.infoset2keys
{'taglines': ['taglines'], 'plot': ['plot', 'synopsis']}
>>> movie.get('title')
>>> movie.get('taglines')[0]
'The Chicago Dream is that big'

Search operations retrieve a fixed set of data and don’t have the concept of information sets. Therefore objects listed in searches will have even less information than the defaults. For example, if you do a movie search operation, the movie objects in the result won’t have many of the keys that would be available on a movie get operation:

>>> movies = ia.search_movie('matrix')
>>> movie = movies[0]
>>> movie
<Movie id:0133093[http] title:_The Matrix (1999)_>
>>> movie.current_info
>>> 'genres' in movie

Once an object is retrieved (through a get or a search), its data can be updated using the update method with the desired information sets. Continuing from the example above:

>>> 'median' in movie
>>> ia.update(movie, info=['taglines', 'vote details'])
>>> movie.current_info
['taglines', 'vote details']
>>> movie['median']
>>> ia.update(movie, info=['plot'])
>>> movie.current_info
['taglines', 'vote details', 'plot', 'synopsis']

Beware that the information sets vary between access systems: locally not every piece of data is accessible, whereas -for example for SQL- accessing one set of data means automatically accessing a number of other information (without major performance drawbacks).

Composite data

In some data, the (not-so) universal :: separator is used to delimit parts of the data inside a string, like the plot of a movie and its author:

>>> movie = ia.get_movie('0094226')
>>> plot = movie['plot'][0]
>>> plot
"1920's prohibition ... way to get him.::Jeremy Perkins <>"

As a rule, there’s at most one such separator inside a string. Splitting the string will result in two logical pieces as in TEXT::NOTE. The imdb.helpers.makeTextNotes() function can be used to create a custom function to pretty-print this kind of information.


Sometimes the collected data contains strings with references to other movies or persons, e.g. in the plot of a movie or the biography of a person. These references are stored in the Movie, Person, and Character instances; in the strings you will find values like _A Movie (2003)_ (qv) or ‘A Person’ (qv) or ‘#A Character# (qv)’. When these strings are accessed (like movie[‘plot’] or person[‘biography’]), they will be modified using a provided function, which must take the string and two dictionaries containing titles and names references as parameters.

By default the (qv) strings are converted in the “normal” format (“A Movie (2003)”, “A Person” and “A Character”).

You can find some examples of these functions in the imdb.utils module.

The function used to modify the strings can be set with the defaultModFunct parameter of the IMDb class or with the modFunct parameter of the get_movie, get_person, and get_character methods:

import imdb
i = imdb.IMDb(defaultModFunct=imdb.utils.modHtmlLinks)


import imdb
i = imdb.IMDb()
i.get_person('0000154', modFunct=imdb.utils.modHtmlLinks)