I've been so confused by the genres of movies for a long time, for instance take Robert Rodriguez's movies like Planet Terror and Machete, even though these movies are funny why comedy is not added as their genre?

And for some movies I've observed that their genres gets changed after a while, for Zero Dark Thirty initially I've seen Action, Drama, History, Thriller as it's genre but now it's only Drama, History, Thriller.

Lastly, for "The Fault in Our Stars", in IMDb the genres are Drama, Romance and in rottenttomatoes the genres are Drama, Comedy. So, the website owner gets to choose the genres of a movie or is it the director of the movie?

Why genres gets changed for a movie after a while?

Why different genres in different websites for the same movie?

Who chooses genres for a movie?

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    After all is said and done, WE, the audience, decide. Tommy Wiseau's THE ROOM was made as a drama, and as an audience, we decided it was a comedy. Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 13:33
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    @MeatTrademark No, the filmmakers decide what a movie they intend to do. If that results in an awfully bad drama and you feel the need to laugh about bad movies, that doesn't turn them into comedies. If you decided The Room was a comedy, that means it's a great and very well done movie, right? (I know your comment wasn't meant too seriously, but I still feel it exhibits a significantly wrong approach to genres in general.)
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 14:16
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    @NapoleonWilson It was a joke, as you kind of surmised. I brought that movie up as an extreme example. The writer, director, stars, editor, etc, can say it's "X" kind of movie, and the studio, producers, distributors, etc, can decide to market the movie as "Y." (When is a comment about The Room not a joke? Thought you knew me better than that; sorry.) Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 22:40
  • @MeatTrademark Yeah, I guessed that, but as said wasn't sure if the more general statement about genres you made within this joke wasn't too sever to be left uncommented.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Jul 5, 2014 at 9:49
  • Netflix does. Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 15:48

2 Answers 2


I wouldn't say there's anyone who specifically sets a genre for a movie as some sort of official thing. The studio will likely describe the movie one way, but writers and magazines and websites may use different or even additional descriptors.

One thing you have to remember with websites is their primary motive in anything is to drive traffic to their site. By adding a large swath of genre information to the details of a movie they've got a page or article or entire section dedicated to, any search terms could ultimately lead to that movie being found on their site, driving traffic to it.

Also, not all websites are run by the same people. Someone may feel one movie is a political drama, while another may feel it's a political thriller.

It could also come down to one's own personal interpretation of the content of a movie, such as a film critic.

I'd say the best descriptor for a movie likely comes from the studio that made it, or the people involved with making the movie itself (screen/story writer, director).

In the end, I would't say to get too worked up over different sites and publications having different descriptors for movies, as there can be any number of reasons this happens, none of them official.

  • Wise people (whether they are creatives, critics or audiences) are even better suited than the studio execs or creative team behind the movie. The person who understands the literature within the context of the creative team's intent, of other movies of its time/year, of other movies by the same director, writer etc., of other movies of similar genre and styles and themes, of visual language and cinema as a historical and artistic body, of its relationship with audiences over time —, people who are more well-versed in this are best suited at categorising and describing movies, regardless. Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 18:14

Film genres can be categorized according to the setting of the film. Often, the genre of a movie is obvious. Can anyone argue Titanic is an comic movie, or Saw is a romantic movie?

It's universal, Titanic is a romantic movie and Saw is a horror movie. So no one does really decide; because subconsciously, we, people or critics, categorise film genres in 4 ways:

  1. The environment where the story and action takes place.
  2. The theme which refers to the issues that the film revolves around.
  3. The mood which shows the emotional tone of the film.
  4. The manner of presentation (e.g.: 35 mm, 16 mm or 8 mm).

An additional way of categorizing film genres is by the target audience: While watching "The fault of our stars" with my friend, we certainly didn't think it was horror movie. We both agreed it was romantic, but I subjectively classified it as a drama movie and she subjectively classified it as a comic movie also. It got glassified in wikipedia as a romantic comedy-drama film, and this is the genre of this movie based on target audience.

The truth is genre is often a vague term with no fixed boundaries and a lot of controversy. Film theorist Robert Stam challenged whether genres do exist, or made up by critics. He asked:

genres [are] really 'out there' in the world or are they really the construction of analysts?.

People will start categorizing movies with their own subjective terms. For example:

Linda Williams, a film critic, argues that melodrama, horror, and adult movies fall into the category of "body genres".

The editors of filmsite.org argue that animation, children's films, and so on are non-genre-based film categories.

And so on.

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    I would add a fifth way: The length of the presentation. Short films (like short stories) try to waste no space and build and present the idea efficiently. A feature-length film can spend more time on the psychology that a shorter form can not. The Law of Fives. ; ) Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 22:48

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