JoBlo.com celebrates its 16-year anniversary! A drink for all my friends!

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." - Ferris Bueller

To me, JoBlo.com is still very near and dear to me, but sometimes in life, you need to step back and look at where you are, and from where you came, and that's why I thought it might be nice to post an article about the site's past and for those just joining us more recently, provide them with a little background on the site and its previous (and hilarious) incarnations. I always feel weird saying that I "founded" the site back in March of 1998, because in all honesty, I had no idea that any of it would be around 16 years later! But it has and I'm very grateful for it all. For a major movie fan like myself, studying "marketing" in college for my MBA was never as exciting as the love I had for movies, so when I couldn't find a job after graduating and this new thing called the "World Wide Web" was coming out, I decided to start writing my own personal reviews (under the nom de plume "JoBlo" because I didn't think there were any film critics out there talking to our generation of movie-goers -- I know it's hard to believe now but trust me when I say that most of them were old white guys at the time) as a fun way to keep my writing skills fresh.

Over time, I added sections here and there, mostly because I was personally just interested in them like movie news, movie trailers, at the time, screensavers and wallpapers were the "thing" so I added those as well, and in the year 2000, I asked my good friend at the time, John Fallon, if he might be interested in writing horror reviews and he wrote me back a very simple email reply, which I still have somewhere in the office: "Cool. I'd like to call it Arrow in the Head and I don't want you to censor me." Great man! Needless to say, his site grew from those early days as well (see the email and an earlier version of AITH here).

Until 2001, I had a day-job (at a local computer distributor -- think "Office Space" but without the fun) and I'd go home at nights and work on the site and write screenplays (still have 4 unproduced scripts burning a hole in one of the drawers of my office, anyone interested? ). My parents thought I was crazy and/or wasting my time, but I enjoyed all that time I put into it (I didn't get much sleep in those days -- still don't!) despite the site being a money-loser to that point. By the next year though, things turned around for the site as something called "advertising" appeared online and the next thing you know, the organic traffic that I had built up over the years, was actually translating into real dollars now! My dad was finally proud of me. Seriously though, I was able to quit my day-job at that time and I consider myself a very lucky person in saying that I "haven't worked a day in my life since then" because I have managed JoBlo.com since that time and loved every minute of it! (so it doesn't feel like work, people!).

There's a whole more to it, of course, and one day I'd love to write something longer about those early years, especially when the Arrow and I used to attend the San Diego Comic Con (we've been covering it since 2000 on the site) or even those years we covered the Cannes Film Festival, mostly because....well, for f*ck's sakes we got to spend 2 weeks in the French Riviera, people! Of course, we worked like horses even then, but the good part of all that was that we also drank like men, so it kinda balanced itself out. Over the next 10 years, the site started to become a much bigger "player" in the online movie world, as movie studios actually started taking us seriously (instead of thinking we were a porn site -- although some reps still do!), legit "old-school" media outlets like Time Magazine, Empire, Variety, Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter and others started to write us up, and the fun times continued as Steven Spielberg himself was quoted as saying that he "loved JoBlo.com" back in 2003 (and we have it on tape, people!). Nowadays, I will regularly see our site quoted on Blu-Ray back covers or on TV spots and it still blows my mind every time. I started this shiz in my parents garage, man! It was headquartered there until 2007 or so. Crazy shit. Oh, and thanks to my mom and dad for being awesome parents! Can't forget that.

Unfortunately for me, all of that apparently took a toll on my health as I was hit hard with a condition called ulcerative colitis around 2005 (been in remission since 2010, knock on wood!), which led to a ton of other complications and set-backs (pancreatitis, kidney stones and a lot of other disgusting things that I prefer not to recount), at which point I had to stop writing reviews as "JoBlo" myself (I believe I had written around 1,365 reviews in the first 8 years or so) and start delegating tasks to others. I basically had to start to manage the business more as a business at that point. Of course, hiring good people was also a big part of the site's success, and to this day I am very proud of every single person who writes for the site and has written for the site -- many of whom have gone on to bigger and better things (unfortunately we're still considered a "small site" in the big picture and can't really afford to pay most of our writers full-time salaries). Mike Sampson was the first person to take over my duties as Editor-in-Chief on the site and he was solid during his tenure with the site. We've had over 100 writers on the site that I can't all name here (but I know who you are!), but I'm very grateful to everyone who helped churn out awesome movie content over the years.

Like I said before, there's a lot more that I can get into in terms of the history of the site, but maybe something will come along somewhere down the line in that respect. For now, and mostly for shits & giggles, why not take a walk down memory lane and look at the very awful (and kinda kitchy cool) incarnations of JoBlo.com (or as it was called in its earlier days, JoBlo's Movie Emporium!), starting from 1998 until today (scroll below). It's to note that I used to create all of the earlier versions of the site myself via HTML coding (okay, I used Microsoft Frontpage), but around 2004 or so, we finally hired a real web design team at Face3Media and they actually still continue to work on our site until this day, so thanks to them as well.

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 5,000,000 visitors each and every month, and with the recent success of our YouTube channel (closing in on 600,000,000 views), the site is only getting bigger and hopefully better every day. 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 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, every single person I hire for the site has to prove to me that they are a major movie nerd first....before I even look over their writing skills or credentials (and I've never once looked at someone's resume to hire them...I just read their thoughts on movies and their writing style). 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.

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 16 years later, this motherclucker is still standing and going strong. I always wanted to be in the "movie business" when I was as a teenager, 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 and read the intro to my 2002 book (which had a foreword written by writer/director Kevin Smith, an early fan of the site -- thanks man!) which gives you a little background about how I started the site. 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!!

(click to enlarge)

June 1998 December 1998


February 2000 September 2000


November 2000 April 2001


April 2002 June 2003


2004 - 2008

For all looks after 2008, click here and check 'em out yourself!

I wrote a book back in 2002 called "JoBlo.com presents...the 50 Coolest Movies of All-Time" featuring a foreword by writer/director Kevin Smith, in which I wrote my favorite 50 coolest movies at that time (you can read all those reviews HERE - scroll down to the title WALL STREET, the 50 titles start from there all the way to the bottom), as well as some personal shit about myself and the site. Since my publisher f*cked me on the book, I've reprinted all of my reviews from the book to the MFC now (although if you want to buy a copy of the book, I may have a few lying around the office), including my intro to the book, which provides for a little background on me and the website (although re-reading it today, many jokes as well). Needless to say, some stats and shit are "off" since I wrote it around 2001, but all in all, the background stuff is valid (we now get 175,000 people on the site each day and I no longer live with the parents).

I’m basically just a dude who started a movie website called joblo.com back in March of 1998, as a hobby, since I was in a bit of a writing funk myself (I wrote about four screenplays in the two years prior) and wanted to keep my writing skills sharp. Years passed, I barely matured, I smoked even more shit and finally got laid (thank God the cousins came through town) and I somehow started to develop a following on the Net: great folks to whom I refer to as “the schmoes” on the site. People like you and me (but muuuuch better looking!), movie-lovers, nacho eaters, all looking for a place to congregate and discuss films (and boobies, of course—well, okay, maybe that last part is just me). So I started to add some other sections to the site, put some news items up every other day, added a bunch of movie trailers, screensavers, some funny trivia quizzes, and the next thing you know, the 100 people that I used to get every week during the first year…turned into 100 people every minute a couple of years later! The site kept expanding after that, even as I changed shitty computer jobs in “real life” (I have a M.B.A. in marketing), and that’s when my good buddy Arrow came on board with his horror sub-site called “Arrow in the Head”. We also added more goodies like movie wallpapers, movie scripts, a movie discussion board so that everyone could converse amongst one another and much, much more (Mike Sampson, our beloved news editor also helped take the site to another level, among various other volunteer workers, all working on the site for no pay but mucho “love of the game”).

So I finally quit my last crappy job in January 2001, just when the Internet bubble was about to burst (great move, genius!), and have been working on the site full-time ever since (and crying myself to sleep every other night, boys and girls). And yes, I basically still live at home with my mom and dad, and my room is literally in the garage (some people think that I made this part up for effect…but come…visit me…I’m seriously in my parents garage, yo!!). Anyway, it’s not all bad, I actually like living at home, especially since the internet ad market is dogshit nowadays, and even though we get more than 30,000 people visiting our site every single day, the green that we bring in is just enough to pay the bills and cover our obscene amount of coke and hooker parties (a man’s gotta relax). Seriously though, I joke around a lot because it’s the only way I can keep from putting a bullet in my left temple. Seriously though…someone please take me away from all this…harrumph, oops, sorry about that…forgot that I was still typing. So yeah, nowadays, I basically dedicate 24/7/365 of my life to the site (get a life, junior!), my girlfriend of three and a half years drop-kicked my big ass about a year ago and life’s been serving me caca-balls every since…but who’s complaining!!

Alright, I’m gonna try and get serious here for a minute (I guess the girlfriend breaking up with me is starting to make a lot more sense now that I read all of this back to myself—sheesh, whatta headcase!). Anyway, as for who I am exactly…well, the whole detailed history of the site and my dinky life will likely have to wait for the next book (if there is one, of course—buy several copies, dammit…I want outta this garage, man!), but for now, I will leave you with the description of myself as a critic (aka JoBlo) that I’ve left on the site since day one: “JoBlo is your typical everyday movie fanatic who believes that most of the movie reviews that he sees on the Net, newspapers and TV, are long-winded, "critical" reviews that never really address what the real movie fan wants to read about. JoBlo has decided to pen his own movie reviews in a quick, easy-to-read fashion, so that all movie geeks could skip the pompous, overwrought professional critical reviews, and visit the man whose notion of movies reflects their own. He's a man who loves great movies, nachos and a warm cozy blanket, under which to enjoy the pair. If you are an individual with some of the same gripes as JoBlo, and enjoy his quick and easy movie critiques, please continue to visit Mr. Blo's Web page as he takes on each and every movie that comes through the theaters and video.”

Extra Tidbit: The thumbnail used for this article is one of the original JoBlo.com logos we created circa 2000 but never used. The original logo image was based on a picture of myself and Johnny Depp. Mostly Depp... ;)
Source: JoBlo.com



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