Hot on the heels of its Campaign Finance API, the New York Times has officially announced the Movie Reviews API, which gives third-party developers access to "over 22,000 New York Times movie reviews going all the way back to 1924" (and we've updated our Movie Review API profile with the updated details).
The initial focus of the API is decidedly on critics, allowing searches by reviewer's name and "Critics' Picks" status, in addition to the expected film title and plot keywords. Responses expose many more details about films, though, including director, top-billed actors, plot summary, tagline, MPAA rating, release date, and more. The data the Gray Lady is banking on developers using most liberally, however, are the automatically-generated links back to its own movie pages, complete with "search-engine-optimized text."
As is the trend, the Movie Reviews API uses REST-style requests, and for authentication only an API key is required. Responses are delivered in JSON format by default, but XML and, refreshingly, serialized PHP objects are available by appending .xml or .sphp to the request URI, respectively. Each response is limited to 20 items, but an optional offset parameter can be used to request subsequent "pages" of results.
If the API's search capabilities seem limited, its creators agree, and promise that "in the next few weeks we’ll be rolling out better lookup and search features that will let you call up reviews based on publication date or the movie’s release date, just to name two." Those features will place it very well in the currently tiny movie-info API market, of which the somewhat different Netflix API is the other prominent member.
Developers looking to take advantage of the Movie Reviews API can seek support at the NYT Developer Network forum, and in the API Gallery, where the PHP code for a sample "Pick a Flick" application can be found.
There's a lot of potential here given the breadth and depth of this movie-related data and we're looking forward to seeing how developers begin making use of it.