By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood March 11, 2014 at 6:00AM
Every day movie fans all over the world turn to the free Internet Movie Database (IMDb) to look up details of who, what and where on movies. No more need to fight over trivia at dinner parties.
But Hollywood insiders pay to dig deeper into IMDb's premium subscriber service IMDbPRO, launched a decade ago, which offers up inside intel on contact listings, in-production information and what's in development. And while many casting directors already use the service to find actors for their movies--Rob Pattinson was famously discovered for "Twilight" via such a search for the right actor in the right age range--they should be happy with a nifty new set of Pro Casting tools that goes along with a speedy consumer-friendly revamp of the site. "Our goal is always to help get people informed and connected," said IMDb CEO Col Needham at SXSW. "We come from Amazon's customer-centric culture."
Gone are the days when casting directors must carry around thick binders full of casting intel. “IMDbPro is probably the single most helpful tool in the tool box when I’m casting one of the leads in a movie,” said casting director Richard Hicks ("Gravity," "Zero Dark Thirty"). “There’s nothing better. It’s the encyclopedia of actors.”
IMDb, always vigilant about finding ways to serve their global readers, has created a set of new tools for casting directors that launches March 11. In my SXSW demonstration, consumer products exec Jack Bernstein showed me how he could cast his own biopic. He went to the IMDb Pro Casting tools page and fed information into My Casting Breakdown for a tall dark handsome man between 25 and 35, slim build, speaking English, with basic baseball skills, brown hair color and eyes for a movie shooting the next day in Los Angeles. The top choice on the STARmeter top 100 list to play Bernstein? Channing Tatum.