Match Game Online Service Surveys Your Taste in Movies - Then Recommends a Few You Might like to See

Article excerpt

So your friend says, "You'll love "Evita!" It's the best American film since `Showgirls'!" You're a little hesitant.

Face it a when it comes to choosing a movie or video, the only person you really trust is you. Wouldn't it be nice if you had a virtual twin who'd already seen and evaluated all the new releases for you? Well, maybe now you do.

Movie Matchmaker, a new service available on the Cinemax Web page, attempts to predict which theatrical, home-video and cable movies you would enjoy. But it's not mere guesswork. The Matchmaker software uses your own list of favorite movies as the basis for its computations. Here's how it works: you begin the process by entering the Matchmaker site (http://matchmaker.cinemax.com) and typing a user name and password. (This is just a formality for individualizing your preferences.) Then you select and rate a dozen films from a list of recent releases. The ratings can range from "One of My All Time Top Ten" to "Pure Crapola," with v arying degrees of love and loathing in between. These 12 (or more) evaluations become the basis for Matchmaker's predictions. Matchmaker can produce a list of movies and videos you might enjoy, or it can predict your rating for a movie that you have already seen. The more evaluations you enter, the greater the confidence level of the predictions. You can also cross-reference your ratings with another person's to find the perfect "date" movie. Cinemax touts the service as "fun and useful," but it also uses the site as a marketing tool. "We hope that in the process {of using Matchmaker} it will attract more attention to the variety of programming that Cinemax offers," said spokeswoman Jodie Haupt-mann. Matchmaker is a recent addition to the site. The service is an example of what programmers call "intelligent agents": software programs that anticipate the users' needs based on patterns of behavior and stated preferences. …