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Naver Movie is officially closing, but can it live on in Naver's search bar?

Mar 16, 2023
  • Writerby Nam Sunwoo
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Naver Movie to shut down on March 31



From March 31st this year, ‘Naver Movies’ (https://movie.naver.com) will be unavailable. This service page from Korea’s leading search engine Naver has provided information and aggregating audience ratings and critics reviews on new releases since it launched in 2000. Although it never had any dedicated version for mobile phones, anyone who has ever looked up a movie title on Naver must have visited this website before.


It was on January 26th that Naver announced the decision to shut down Naver Movies. According to the announcement published on Naver Movies’ bulletin board, this move is to “focus on their search offering.” As the statement concludes that they will “strive to provide more comprehensive information in the dedicated knowledge snippets for movies that are featured in the integrated results page,” it also announces that they will let users backup their personal movie reviews. The same announcement is being displayed as a pop-up on the homepage of Naver Movies.


To the users puzzled by this unexpected development, a Naver representative answers, "It is true that the Naver Movie page is shutting down, but you will still be able to book tickets and leave comments and reviews on Naver." He added that this decision was made based on an internal evaluation that “it will be more efficient to upgrade the search engine, which has higher user engagement metrics”, but “it doesn’t mean the team in charge of the movie service is leaving Naver.” They also said that users do not need to worry because the information they used to find on Naver Movies will be the same when looking up a movie title in the search engine itself, since Naver Search is pooling directly from Naver Movies’ database. “The only difference is that this information will be provided in a different location, Naver’s search engine result page, rather than on Naver Movies.”





Still, the film promotion and marketing sector expressed their concerns about the change. “The blow that COVID-19 brought with it is now outreaching film companies and spreading like a butterfly effect to the film-related service industry”, said an anonymous source who works for an online marketing company. They vented their frustration: “The shutdown of Naver Movies leaves a bitter taste in my mouth as this comes after the remove of the movie section on Naver's homepage, which would show the trending news about new releases, and Yes24, a key player in the event ticketing market, pulling out of the movie reservation business.” They concluded, “People mostly stay informed about movies through web portals and internet communities, and I am worried that this change might add more hoops for them to jump through.”  


The influence Naver Movies was exerting on the film PR and marketing sector is indeed not insignificant. Naver Movies was providing potential viewers and professionals a window into the public taste in movies, thanks to intuitive indicators like ratings and featured comments. Publicists say that it was a good tool to check public opinion; unlike WatchaPedia and Letterboxd, which are mainly used by movie buffs, Naver Movies was connected to the largest web portal in Korea, meaning that it would encompass the reactions of viewers who don’t go watch movies that often and members of the older generations, which are less familiar with social media platforms.  


The same anonymous source also questions Naver's determination to concentrate on the search engine. Taking the Fast and Furious series as an example, they said: “Not everyone can search for the exact title of the upcoming sequel, Fast and Furious: The Ultimate. As for the others, they will have to go through all 9 titles in the series until they find the one they were looking for”. They added that, in many cases, only typing the movie title into the search box doesn’t lead directly to the relevant information and they often had to inquire about this with Naver.  


On top of these problems, film PR and marketing specialists also wish for a new design that would allow users to access with ease to all the movie information and audience reactions on a single pagtheBy the same token, they are expecting Naver Movies, which has grown into the go-to place for viewers to find out about movies and for the film industry to communicate with the public, will be able to continue to fulfill these responsibilities once it will be incorporated within the search engine.

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