Comprehensive Project on Building a Movie Recommender Website

Abhishek Jaiswal 28 Dec, 2021 • 6 min read

This article was published as a part of the Data Science Blogathon

                                                                                                                                                                                source: local

Hey Folks!

In this article, we are going to start an end-to-end project where we will build a movie Recommender system using Machine learning and host it over the internet as a Movie Recommender website.

Project Difficulty Level : Easy

So if you want to build an End-to-End ML-based project you can follow along with me and I’ll guide you through the project.

What will you learn from this article?

Part1. Building a Movie Recommender System from zero:

In the first part, we will understand the basic concept of the recommender system, and how it works and we will build a Movie Recommender System (Content-based Filtering) from zero.

Part 2. Creating a Website and deploying the model:

In the second part, we will create a website using Streamlit and multiple other services including APIs to get the real-time movie banners and deploy the ML model on the website

Part 3. Deploying our Movie Recommender Website on the internet for Free:

in this part, we will talk about various methods for deployment on the internet using free services with a demonstration

Introduction to Recommender System

Recommender System is basically a system that takes the user’s choice as input and predicts all the related movies, or news, books, etc.

you would have seen Recommender System in Action while Scrolling on Youtube, Netflix, etc.

there are majorly 2 types of Recommender System and the 3rd could be a hybrid of these 2 types

Img Source: OpenSource

Collaborative filtering

Collaborative filtering basically tries to relate a user with another user who is having the same past behavior (i.e. items purchased or searched by the user) or similar decisions made by other users. once users are related then this model predicts items (or ratings for items) based on other similar users’ interests.


Content-based filtering

This type of Filtering system recommends you on the basis of what you actually like. Imagine you love to watch comedy movies so a content-based recommender system will recommend you other related comedy movies which belong to your category

In the real world, Recommender systems use a hybrid of content-based and collaborative-based filtering. This improves the accuracy of Recommendations

Enough Theory Let’s Start Building our Recommender System!

Steps Involved

Step 1. Getting the Dataset

Step 2. Data Cleaning and Processing

Step 3. Training our Recommender System

Step 4. Testing and Validation

Step 5. Saving the Trained Model for Deployment

Getting the Dataset to create Movie Recommender

We are going to Use the tmdb-5000 movies dataset for our project. it contains 5000 movies along with their genres, cast, actors, producers, credits, etc.

the dataset contains 2 CSV files one contains movie details, and the second contains the credits of movies(metadata), like the cast, producer, directors, etc.

let’s load the dataset :

import numpy as np
import pandas as pd
movies = pd.read_csv('../input/tmdb-movie-metadata/tmdb_5000_movies.csv')
credits = pd.read_csv('../input/tmdb-movie-metadata/tmdb_5000_credits.csv')
movie columns
 Source: Local
Source: Local

Merge both data frames on the basis of the movie title name

movies = movies.merge(credits, on = ‘title’)

Data Preprocessing

Feature Selection :

Since we have so many unnecessary columns, so let’s select only those features (columns) which are important for our recommendation.

movies_df = movies[[‘id’, ‘title’,’overview’,’genres’,’cast’,’crew’,’keywords’]]

Removing Null values

in our dataset, we have no duplicates and only some null values so we dropped records having null values

movies_df.dropna(inplace = True)

Data Preprocessing:

data preprocessing

genres column is a list of dictionary and key “name” holds the genres. our aim is to convert the list of the dictionary into a list of genres

The same applies with column ‘keywords

def convert(obj):
    import ast # this changes string-list to list 
    L = []
    for i in ast.literal_eval(obj):
    return L
movies_df['genres'] = movies_df.genres.apply(convert)
movies_df['keywords'] = movies_df.keywords.apply(convert)

we have created a function to convert a list of dictionaries into a list of genres and replace them in the genres column

movie geners
Source: local

Dealing Movie’s Cast

Cast column contains lists of dictionary of having all cast names. we want to take only the top 4 casts for our recommendations

# now lets deal with cast ( we will only take top 4 casts)
def convert_top4(obj):
    counter = 0
    import ast # this changes string-list to list 
    L = []
    for i in ast.literal_eval(obj):
        if counter != 4:
            counter += 1
    return L
movies_df['cast'] = movies_df.cast.apply(convert_top4)

crew column contains all the support members including directors, cameramen, stuntmen, etc.

we will only take the director’s name for our prediction.

def fetch_director(obj):
    import ast # this changes string-list to list 
    L = []
    for i in ast.literal_eval(obj):
        if i['job'] == 'Director':
    return L
movies_df['crew'] = movies_df.crew.apply(fetch_director)

Overview Column:

overview column contains the basic overview of the movie. split the overview into words and remove all the stop words in order to create tags

movies_df['overview'] = movies_df['overview'].apply(lambda x:x.split())

Creating Tags:

now we need to replace all the white spaces with an underscore so that they can be treated as a single entity

movies_df['genres'] = movies_df['genres'].apply(lambda x:[i.replace(" ","_") for i in x])
movies_df['keywords'] = movies_df['keywords'].apply(lambda x:[i.replace(" ","_") for i in x])
movies_df['cast'] = movies_df['cast'].apply(lambda x:[i.replace(" ","_") for i in x])
movies_df['crew'] = movies_df['crew'].apply(lambda x:[i.replace(" ","_") for i in x])
movies_df['tags'] = movies_df['overview'] + movies_df['genres'] + movies_df['keywords'] + movies_df['cast'] + movies_df['crew']

tags column is a list of lists containing the summary of movie, cast, crew, genres, keywords

movies_df[‘tags’] = movies_df.tags.apply(lambda x:’ ‘.join(x))
iloc tags

we have summarized all our data into the tags column. now we will work only on the tags column

Applying Stemming on Tags:

Stemming is an NLP technique of reducing a word to its root word. For example:

[‘liked’,’ likes’,’ liking’] will be converted into ‘like’

Note: before applying stemming convert text into lowercase

import nltk
from nltk.stem.porter import PorterStemmer
ps = PorterStemmer()
def stem(text):
    v = ' '.join([ps.stem(i) for i in text.split()])
    return v
new_df = movies_df[['id','title','tags']]
new_df[‘tags’] = new_df.tags.apply(lambda x:x.lower())
new_df['title'] = new_df.title.apply(lambda x:x.lower())

new_df is our final processed data frame which will be used for training.

Training Steps

our final data frame is textual data, we need to parse it into numerical or floating values in order to feed as inputs in machine learning algorithms. This process is called feature extraction |  vectorization).

from sklearn.feature_extraction.text import CountVectorizer
cvect = CountVectorizer(max_features = 5000, stop_words = ‘english’)
vectors = cvect.fit_transform(new_df[‘tags’]).toarray()
  • Count Vectorizer can handle stop_words
  • max_features = 5000 assuming 5000 unique words in our dataset excluding stopwords

Model Building :

our model should be capable of finding the similarity between movies based on their tags.

Our Recommender model takes a movie title as input and predicts top-n most similar movies based on the tags

here we will use the concept of Cosine distance to calculate the similarity of tags

cosine similarity Movie Recommender Website
Source: OpenSource

sklearn provides a class for calculating pairwise cosine_similarity.

from sklearn.metrics.pairwise import cosine_similarity
similarity = cosine_similarity(vectors)

similarity is a 2D matrix of movies in rows and similarity (confidence) in columns

Testing and Prediction:

Creating a function that takes movie title as input and returns the top-5 most similar movies

def recommend(movie):
    movie = movie.lower()
    movie_index = new_df[new_df.title == movie].index[0]
    distances = similarity[movie_index]
    movies_list = sorted(list(enumerate(distances)), reverse = True, key = lambda x:x[1])[1:6]
    for i in movies_list:

getting prediction:

Movie Recommender Website test and predict
Source: Local

Saving the Model

We need to save the similarity matrix along with the data frame new_df

Using pickle to save model and similarity matrix

import pickle 
pickle.dump(new_df, open(‘movies_df.pkl’,’wb’))
pickle.dump(similarity, open('similarity.pkl','wb'))


In this article, you have seen various steps involving data pre-processing, feature extraction of textual data, and using cosine similarity to build our movie recommender system.

In the Next Article, we will create a web app and will use the saved model for prediction. so stay tuned!

If you have something to ask me write me on Linkedin

Source Code: link

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Abhishek Jaiswal 28 Dec 2021

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