Hi everyone! My name is Berge Garabedian aka JoBlo. I was the dude who started all this shit back in May 1998 when I was working for a two-bit computer distributor in Montreal, Canada (think OFFICE SPACE but less funny), had just completed my MBA from McGill University a couple of years earlier, had written 4 original screenplays (each of which still sits in my drawer at home) and was depressed about the state of my life and my future (I was in my 20s back then).
Quick background on myself: parents are Armenian, but I was born in Amsterdam, Holland (love it!), lived there till I was 8 years old, and then moved to Canada (brought up on American TV and movies). I was a massive movie fan my whole life, memories of going to see the original STAR WARS in theaters, not to mention Stallone/Schwarzenegger movies in my teens, never thinking that I would ever end up in the business in any way. Studying business in school, I really wanted to start my own business at some point, and then one of my teachers said that you could always join an industry that you enjoy, you don’t need to join a bank or finance company, simply because you’re a business student. Hmmmm….
Around that same time, this thing called the “internet” started making the rounds and being an alpha-male pro-active kinda guy, I decided to teach myself how to code HTML at nights, while I continued working the 9-5 during the day.
Having written a couple of movie reviews for my MBA newsletter (my first ever review was….David Fincher’s SE7EN….I loved it!!) and always being pissed at the lack of diversity in movie critics at that time (no offense to straight old white guys, but they were basically all…straight old white guys!), most of whom generally only liked movies that were uber-artistic and what-not. I specifically remember how Michael Bay’s ARMAGEDDON was lambasted by almost every critic that I read at the time, yet the film made over $300 MILLION, so obviously a lot of non-critics quite enjoyed it. I was in the same boat. I could appreciate artistic movies as much as the next guy but I also simply loved MOVIES that were fun, fantastic, scary and action-packed. Just because those elements were in a film, didn’t mean it couldn’t be a “good movie”.
Long story short, I came up with the name JOBLO because I believed the website would represent the “regular Joe” point of view and around May 1998, I started up a site called JoBlo’s Movie Reviews.
I kept working on my site every night (after work) until the wee hours of the morning and just kept adding sections that were interesting to me, like movie scripts, trailers and little known facts about movies.
At this point, it’s important to note that I really didn’t have a “grand ambition” or anything for the site, but it was very enjoyable to me, and I was literally just doing it as a hobby until I could get my shit together in my real life. And yes, it was around this time that my girlfriend at the time dumped my sorry ass because I was too busy with work and JoBlo.com, that I wasn’t able to give her what she needed at the time (sorry girl!).
In the year 2000, I asked my best friend at the time (still is today), John Fallon (aka the Arrow) if he might want to start contributing “genre” reviews to the site, and the next thing you know, ARROW IN THE HEAD was born! (you can read my now-humorous email message to him from back in the year 2000 below). This is what ARROW IN THE HEAD looked like when it was initially launched.
Needless to say, John became the most prolific online horror movie reviewer of all-time and ARROW IN THE HEAD continues to be one of the top horror movie sites on the Net today. So that worked out okay.
By 2001, the site actually started to make enough money (we went from getting 100 people/day to 100 people/hour over the years) such that I can quit my crappy day job and the rest, as some would say…is history.
But since this is an article about that history, allow me to elaborate a little further.
By 2002, the site was jumping and I was even offered a book publishing contract. I took it up and ended up writing THE 50 COOLEST MOVIES OF ALL-TIME, with a foreword by none other than Kevin Smith, who was a fan of the site even back in those days and who ended up comparing JoBlo, the critic to a “really good blowjob“. Thanks man!
From there on out, the site sorta took off as we added all of the sections you still see today including movie posters, release dates, box-office, screenplays and so much more.
We even created an ultra successful “hotties” site, called MOVIEHOTTIES which used to be considered an okay thing, back before heterosexual males were allowed to check out pictures of hot girls…lol. Seriously though, it was an awesome site and it lasted a full decade, and made a lot of guys (and girls) very very happy.
Oh and let’s not forget that we’re one of the few online movie sites that has been running its own movie awards since 2001 called THE GOLDEN SCHMOES. Simply put, we allow the movie fans themselves to vote for the nominees and the winners as well. We’re very proud to have kept it going all these years and they’ve recently been added to the IMDB pages as well. Sweet.
Unfortunately for me personally, I was hit with some health issues around 2007-2008 and I was forced to stop writing reviews (I ended up having written around 1,400 reviews from 1998 to 2008).
From there, we hired more and more movie fans from around the world and had a maximum of 53 people working on the now-named JOBLO MOVIE NETWORK by 2015 (psst, it was also called JOBLO’S MOVIE EMPORIUM for a long time in between). I’ve hired every single person on this site myself over the years, barely ever looking at their resumes but rather their “movie knowledge” and writing skills. We are a movie fansite run by movie fans…for movie fans!
Over the past 20 years, we accomplished a whole bunch but I don’t want to bore you all with all of that minute shit, so I’ll just enumerate some of my favorite moments below:
– Having Steven Spielberg say that he “loves JoBlo.com” during a 2002 junket for Minority Report. I shit you not, people. You can actually listen to the audio clip here, starring our original Editor-in-Chief Mike Sampson himself
– Taking part in a documentary called THE PEOPLE VS GEORGE LUCAS around 2010. This was neat for me because obviously STAR WARS was one of the franchises that inspired me the most when younger
– I was interviewed and quoted by TIME MAGAZINE in April 2007 for an article entitled “Boys Who Like Toys“. Nice! Even though I personally could give two shits about that magazine at the time, it was the one that my father read growing up, so it was a proud moment for me in the family when this happened. Check out the article here and here. JoBlo was also recognized in MacLeans’s magazine in 2014 (the Canadian version of Time) as one of 4 “Canadian YouTube stars” at the time
– That time in 2006 when I was at the Cannes Film Festival and emailed one of my favorite film critics growing up, Roger Ebert, to see if he would mind meeting up with me for a few minutes. Not only did he meet up with me, he was a supporter of the site and he spend a lot of time with me, time he didn’t need to spend with me. I’ll always be grateful for his kindness and graciousness.
– Oh and that time in 2011 when we decided to throw our 1st JoBlo.com bash at the San Diego Comic Con and fuckin’ Jon Favreau (!!) showed up to DJ the evening. He even name-dropped us on the Jimmy Kimmel show a couple of nights later. See that clip HERE. So cool!
– The first time we were quoted on anything was for Spike TV’s showing of the film JOE DIRT. I hadn’t totally liked the film but they used my quotes in the commercial anyway. To this day, I continue to be humbled whenever I see the name JoBlo.com quoted on anything, including Blu-Rays and TV spots. You can check out a few of them HERE.
– And speaking of YouTube, JoBlo made its way into the YouTube landscape in 2011, and seven years later, we are the 9th biggest Canadian YouTube channel but our 8 channels together have over 2 million subscribers and over 2,600,000,000 views (that’s billions, yo).
Oh and tons of sweet SHOUT-OUTS from celebs over the years, thanks y’all!
I’m also extremely proud to be one of the few online movie websites to have covered the SAN DIEGO COMIC CON (the mecca for all things fanboy) for the past 19 years!!
We’ve also interviewed over 3,100 celebrities over the past couple of decades and been invited to over 125 set visits. It’s hard for me to believe all these numbers and I was there through most of it! : )
I personally have hundreds of other cool moments over the years including hanging out on the set of V FOR VENDETTA in London, England in the wee hours of the night, being able to hob-knob with Kevin Smith before his premiere screening for CLERKS 2 in Cannes back in the day, having lunch with Guillermo del Toro in Los Angeles one afternoon with the Arrow and my brother and the man inviting us back to his home for tacos (we didn’t go??), being at a party at SDCC with directors like Darren Aronofsky and Edgar Wright, or the time the Arrow forced me to go speak to Salma Hayek at an airport terminal in France because I was “in love” with her at the time, but too scared to approach her (I ultimately did and she was very sweet).
But in the end though, it’s a cliche but we couldn’t have made it to this point without you, the fans. Our site now receives well over 2,000,000 visitors each and every month (over 75 million page views a year), and with the recent success of our YouTube channels (over 600 million video views a year), the site continues to remain relevant, despite 20 years in the biz. When people ask me what the “secret” is to our success, I wouldn’t dream of knowing the exact recipe, but I can tell you that some of my own philosophies in terms of this business: work HARD, respect/listen your audience, appreciate/empower your staff and ultimately LOVE what you do!
To this day, I hope that our site continues to bring movie fans from all around the world the best in movie news, reviews, trailers and more, but not just the actual nuts & bolts of those items, but our honest fanboy/fangirl opinions on it all, good or bad. I believe that’s part of why we have many loyal fans of the site because we “tell it like it is”, no brown-nosing here. We also happen to be one of the last “independent” sites standing today (we’re not owned by any big company), so that surely allows us to remain objective and credible.
As you can see from this little trip down memory lane, I never started this site with any thoughts of turning it into a worldwide conglemorate or anything. My goal was simply to represent the people who didn’t have a voice in those days and I hope that in this day and age, with so many more media outlets churning out the same information, JoBlo.com still has a reputable and believable voice that most movie fans know to trust and follow. And from the bottom of my heart, I thank every person who has every visited the site, continues to visit the site, as well as everyone who has written for it, and continues to write for it. This is what it’s all about and I’m simply amazed that 20 years later (!!), this motherclucker is still standing and going strong.
I always wanted to be in the “movie business” when I was as a kid, and in a way, that’s ultimately what my life has been surrounded by, and for that, I am very grateful and thankful. And now without any further adieu…check out what the site looked like in previous years which gives you a little insight into how it all started and a little lower for the PHOTO GALLERY over the years.
Thanks to everyone who contributes to JoBlo.com and we hope you keep enjoying our site as it gets bigger, better and cooler for years to come!!
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller
(click to enlarge)
|2004 – 2008
|For all looks after 2008, click here and check ’em out yourself!
2001: First time meeting Kevin Smith
2002: New Line Cinema supper at San Diego Comic Con with many of the original movie fansite webmasters
2002: A pitstop in Tijuana, Mexico for the Arrow and I
2003: San Diego Comic Con with the Arrow
2004: Working hard at the Cannes Film Festival in France
2004: Hollywood, California with the Arrow
2004: Look closely and you will see my face over Bruce Willis’ shoulder….. : )
2005: Red Carpet at the Cannes Film Festival with the Arrow
2005: Arrow puts his arm around Robert Downey Jr aka Iron Man at the Cannes Film Festival
2007: Superbad premiere with Seth Rogen at the San Diego Comic Con
2007: Chillin with director James Wan in Boston for premiere of “Dead Silence”
2007: Me, Judd Apatow, Moreno, Leslie Mann and Jonah Hill at “Superbad” premiere at SDCC
2007: Thomas Jane being all Thomas Jane outside our hotel at the SDCC
2009: Arrow hanging with Quentin Tarantino at the Sitges Film Festival in Spain
2011: Many of the original members of the JoBlo.com team at the San Diego Comic Con
2011: Olivia Munn taking a picture with me at the JoBlo.com party at SDCC
2011: JoBlo.com staffers work hard….and play hard too!
2016: Vidcon with Rusty Eltringham and Editor-in-Chief Paul Shirey