The Official Blog of IMDb

Newsletter #12

January 3rd, 1997 | Posted by admin in Newsletter

this issue edited by Jon Reeves

Welcome to issue 12 of the IMDb newsletter. The newsletter is intended to
keep database users and contributors informed of the latest developments
from the management team. Comments and suggestions are welcome and should
be directed to Issue 13 is scheduled for mid-April.

To subscribe to the newsletter, fill out the survey

and check the appropriate box. To unsubscribe, send a blank
message to



by Michel Hafner

Now and then we get mail asking what the Roman numerals in names mean
or we get corrections trying to remove them. So it’s probably time to
describe in a bit more detail why we have names with Roman numerals and
what it all means.

There are two types of Roman numerals appearing in our names. Here’s an
example of the first type:

Ahern II, Lloyd

Lloyd Ahern II is a cinematographer that has the same name as his father
Lloyd Ahern except for the “II” used to distinguish between them. The
Roman numeral is directly and officially part of the name and not in
any parentheses. It is used in actual credits of movies and in other
information sources that have data on this man.

The reason is simply to make clear that you are talking about the son
and not the father. The two are likely to be mixed up since they are both
cinematographers. Although someone familiar with their biographical data
might conclude from the context if the father or the son was involved in
a particular movie, it’s nonetheless convenient to have the Roman numeral
to remove ambiguity.

The second type of Roman numeral appearing in names is very similar,
although there is a crucial difference. Again the Roman numeral is
added to distinguish between two or more different people that share
a name but are not identical. But this time the number is not part of
the official name of a person as used in credits or other information
sources. It’s a number added by IMDb and it’s always within parentheses.

The need for these numbers arose naturally as the database grew over
time and more and more name clashes occurred with the consequence that
credits belonging to one person were also showing up for all others with
the same name. Generally, the more common a name is the more likely
there will be mix-ups and the more Roman numerals have to be added. As
an example look up John Taylor for which we already store 15 (!) variants
not counting cases with initials.

There are no strict rules as to which person gets which number although
we try to give more important or famous people lower numbers (and
big stars none at all for the time being) and also people that came
chronologically before other people. Also, if a person has been billed
with different names, one of them being more distinctive than the others
(due to an added initial, for example), we tend to use the unique name
that needs no Roman numeral as the primary name and add the name with
the Roman numeral as an alternative name.

The need for Roman numerals follows from the basic database design.
The names and titles themselves are the keys into the data and must be
unique, hence the need for Roman numerals. Other solutions are possible,
but we feel that the current solution is the best for the time being and
hope this view is also shared by our users.


by Giancarlo Cairella

A couple of months ago I went to see Chain Reaction. As I always do, I
checked the entry in the IMDb and read in the Crazy Credits section
that after the end titles there’s an additional scene (showing an
underground explosion).

After the movie was over I sat through the end credits to see this scene
and waited for what seemed an eternity (at least 5 minutes of the film’s
running time are taken by the closing titles). By the time the explosion
did indeed appear, I was the only guy left in the theater (it was 1 A.M.).

I got up and tried to leave, but first I had to go to the restroom. When
I came out the lights went out and by the time I got to the door I
discovered that the theater had been sealed up for the night with me inside!

I managed to get to the front entrance in the dark and after 10-15
minutes a night watchman saw me through the glass doors and rescued me.

Conclusion: better check the IMDb after you’ve seen the movie,
especially if you plan to go to the late show :-)


by Jon Reeves

The Oscar nominations are in; we had the complete list up, with links,
in slightly over an hour. Look for a revised format for the Oscar data
soon that should make it easier to read longer entries like the effects.
We’ve been working to fill in the blanks on some of the more obscure

And as with last year, we are planning real-time updates during the actual
ceremony on March 24. Last year, we got many of the updates done before the
winner reached the podium.


by Murray Chapman

Continuing our discussion of goofs from last issue.

Miscellaneous Misconceptions

Here, I’ll briefly debunk some of the commonly submitted “goofs”:

  • In Star Wars, upon returning from destroying the Death
    Star, Luke yells “Carrie!” instead of “Leia!” The jury is still out
    on this one. I have mail pending with the maintainers of the Star Wars
    FAQ on whether this is actually the case or not. I will await their decision;
    I haven’t the time to investigate it thoroughly enough to satisfy SW fans!
  • In The Wizard of Oz, it’s possible to see a crew member hanging
    himself in the background. Not true. For a full explanation, see:
  • In 3 Men and a Baby, it’s possible to see the ghost of a boy
    in the background. Not true. For a full explanation, see:
  • Everyone in sword-and-sandal epics should have bad teeth. Not true; tooth
    decay is a symptom of modern day society’s sugar consumption. In countries
    such as India, where the majority of people can’t afford sugar, teeth are
    clean and white. Certainly, they should not have sunglasses, tan marks from
    their wristwatches, band-aids, but good teeth is fine.
  • In Independence Day, Levinson says that he has identified
    a pattern in the aliens’ transmissions, and announces that he thinks that
    it is a countdown. He displays on his laptop a timer which will is counting
    down in hours/minutes/seconds. Many people submit that this is a goof,
    because there is no way that the aliens would be using human time
    measurements. Not true: they could. But in any event, there’s no indication
    in the film that the hours/minutes/seconds are directly encoded into the
    radio signals, it’s probable that Levinson has merely constructed his timer
    so that it counts down in units that we are familiar with.

What? There are exceptions?

It is indicative of the complex and varied nature of film that what
may at first seem to be a bona fide goof may not actually be one!
In A Clockwork Orange, Stanley Kubrick deliberately had cups and
plates jump around, as to provide a subconscious sense of confusion to
the viewer. It is rumored that Last Action Hero (1993) had hundreds of
intentional continuity errors, in keeping with its “journey into filmland”
basis. Such deliberate aberrations in the reality that a film seeks to
create should not be regarded as “goofs”; they are a technique unique to
cinema in which a filmmaker can express their ideas.

One film that that is a goof manager’s nightmare is Total Recall (1990).
Most of the film concerns a man’s attempts to determine whether he is merely
suffering a programmed hallucination, or whether what he is experiencing is
“reality” as he has always known it. Given this, if we find an inconsistency
in the film, we are unsure how to classify it. There are two options:

(a) It was a genuine, unintentional mistake by the filmmakers, and
thus an aberration in the reality the film is trying to create.

(b) It was a deliberate inconsistency by the filmmakers to indicate that the
character is not experiencing “reality” as they traditionally know it.

From the IMDb’s point of view, (a) is a goof, whereas (b) isn’t. As most
films don’t involve multiple/alternative realities, (a) is a safe bet most
of the time. Unfortunately with Total Recall (1990), this is not the
case, and thus we must make a conservative decision and give the filmmakers
credit for using this device.

Time travel also creates a lot of headaches. The IMDb will not catalog
goofs which involve time travel, as to do so would make assumptions about a
fictitious technology that by its very nature involves paradoxes.

The same can be said for many high-tech goof submissions. It is stated in
Independence Day (1996) that the alien mothership has a mass a quarter
that of the moon, and yet no mention is made of massive tidal changes.
Labeling this a goof would require us to make assumptions about alien
technology. The aliens know more than we do; they can move a ship that big
across the galaxy. If you are happy with your view of physics accommodating
a fast moving machine of such a mass, then it doesn’t take much more disbelief
to allow for negation of gravitational effects.

How do goofs happen?

The budget of the film was $45 million! Why don’t they take some care when
making it?

Well, it’s not that easy! The more money you have typically means the more
people involved, and the more complex your production is. A complex production
leaves lots of room for unnoticed mistakes. Let’s examine the process of
creating a film to try and identify how mistakes get made:

The Script. In most films, a script is fairly complete and static once filming
begins (notable exceptions: Apocalypse Now (1979), Blue in the Face (1995)).
Before it reaches this stage, however, it must have gone through numerous
revisions and changes. Each revision of the script has the possibility of
introducing inconsistencies. The script may be poorly written, resulting
in huge PLOT holes.

Pre-production. Often, early drafts of the script are given to the various
departments involved in pre-production for a film. Sets have to be built
and costumes have to be made before filming can begin. Mistakes can be
introduced because of miscommunication that can’t be blamed on one party:

In the novel of Gone with the Wind (1939), Scarlett is described
wearing the “green sprigged dress” in the opening scenes with the Tarleton
twins. In the movie she wears a white dress with a red sash. Later during
the barbecue at the Wilkes where she actually does wear the green dress,
Scarlett says to the Tarleton twins, “but I wore this old thing because I
thought you liked it,” referring to the novel, not earlier in the movie.

The dress had been changed by the costume department, but none of them had
thought to contact the script department on the off chance that this raised
problems later in the script. (Note that this is not a goof, because the
Tarleton twins might have seen Scarlett’s dress in a scene not in the movie)

Location: If you’ve ever seen a film that involved a car chase that was
filmed in a city that you know, you’re probably aware that filmmakers
play fast and loose with geography. If there are significant landmarks
visible, and we are sure what city they are supposed to be in, we can
hit them with GEOG errors. Hong Faan Kui (1995) (Rumble in the Bronx)
was especially guilty of this: set in the Bronx, it featured the snowy
white peaks surrounding Vancouver, Canada.

Shooting order: Films are rarely shot in the order that they play in the
final film (exception: Death and the Maiden (1994)). Of more importance
is scheduling the resources (actors, locations, props, etc) to make efficient
use of them. To this end, a character may be required to show injuries that
they haven’t received yet – the costume and makeup departments must make
special note of how the items will end up looking, and when the earlier shots
are filmed, introduce the differences as required.

Multiple Takes: Conversation scenes are typically shot with three camera
positions: once looking over each person’s shoulder at the other person,
and once showing both people in the same shot. If the scene is filmed three
times from each position, that results in nine pieces of footage from which
an editor will extract the best performances.

In each of these nine takes, the actors involved must ensure that their
actions are as similar as possible. They must rub their faces at the same
point in the conversation, they must drink the same amount out of the glass
at the same time, and return it to the same point on the table, remembering
whether or not to take their hand off the glass.

If the characters are in a scene are outdoors, the filmmakers have less
control over background items. Ordinary civilians in the background
might move. In The Fugitive (1993), Richard Kimble runs through the
St Patrick’s Day parade in Chicago. Unfortunately, the same clock is visible
in the background in a number of different shots, showing times that indicate
gaps in supposedly continuous scenes.

Camera crew/equipment: Filmmakers usually take great pains to ensure that
their presence is not noted in the film: sets are specially constructed to
allow camera movements, and shots are composed to not include items that
shouldn’t be there. Nevertheless, mistakes are often made: shadows and
reflections are difficult to predict.

Safety: Obviously, you can’t do things like blowing people up, or shooting
them in the head. To this end, special effects are used: hidden wires,
trick props, squibs, etc. Sometimes, the mechanisms become visible. FAKE
goofs are born.

Boom Mikes: Boom mikes are a special case. A boom mike is a large microphone
held over the top of the scene being filmed. Undesirable visible in the final
product, they are vital to catch dialogue and/or sound effects for later

A little-known fact is that boom mikes are actually captured on film most
of the time. The camera’s viewfinder actually shows (and records on film)
a greater area of the scene than will appear in the final product. Markings
are etched in the viewfinder to indicate to the camera operator the extents of
the “viewable” film (called the “live” area). An area beyond that (called the
“safe” area) is also marked; it is in this area that the camera operator
directs the boom operator to place the boom microphone.

When the film is developed, processed and printed, the film beyond the safe
area is cropped, but often not the safe area itself. It is up to the
projectionist to correctly align the camera and the blinders so that only the
“live” area is visible. As films have different aspect ratios, this adjustment
needs to be made for every film.

A boom mike that appears in the final product may or may not be the fault
of the filmmakers; quite often it is. In The Night of the Iguana (1964),
Richard Burton‘s character is actually hit on the head by the boom mike -
hardly something you can blame on incorrect adjustment of the projector!

There are many reports of boom mikes in Ransom (1996), but also reports
from various people (myself included) that they couldn’t see boom mikes
where others had reported them; we are forced to conclude that in this case,
there were several projectionists at fault.

Shooting time: Shooting a particular scene make take hundreds of times longer
than the actual scene takes when viewed on film. An extreme example of this
is Tsui Kun II (1994) (Drunken Master II), where the final fight scene
plays out in seven minutes of screen time, but required three months to
shoot. Inevitably, real life intrudes: it is impossible to wear the same
costume and the same makeup the entire time that it takes to film the scene.
(Exception: while filming Carrie (1976), Sissy Spacek slept for
several nights with fake pig blood on her, so that it would appear the same
in all shots).

Imagine the problems facing the makers of Speed (1994/I): the bulk
of the film plays out in real time, and both Jack and the bus he is on must
both gradually become more and more scuffed up as the film progresses. Couple
this with the fact that scenes were probably not shot in chronological order,
and you begin to appreciate the difficulty of the task of reapplying makeup
every day of a shoot that may last for weeks. On top of this, 10 different
buses were used depending on the action required.

Second Unit Shots: there is often more than one camera crew working on a film
at the one time. The director typically delegates relatively unimportant
shots to the “second unit,” which films them independently. The second unit
typically does shots that do not require lead actors’ faces; they may film
closeups, stills, scenery, or even hands moving to pick up objects. Hands are
usually the same, especially if they wear gloves; any old hand will do for
most shots. Miscommunication between units can result in gross continuity
errors: In
A Nightmare in Elm Street (1984), Nancy is wearing a
shortsleeved nightgown when she checks her watch, but the closeup shows a
wrist with the end of a long blue sleeve on it.

Editing: During editing, the nine pieces of footage that we described earlier
are cut and spliced together to make a single (hopefully continuous) scene.
The editor has to balance numerous factors: the flow of the conversation,
the correct camera angle for the correct moment, the best takes of
a particular line, and gross continuity errors. Poorly edited dialogue
is more noticeable that the level of water in someone’s glass bobbing up
and down. In any event, at the editing stage it is often too late to go
back and re-shoot a scene, so continuity sacrifices have to be made.

In arranging the shots of a film during editing, it is sometimes necessary
to flip a shot left-for-right, so that characters are looking the right
direction, or so that action flows naturally and is indicative of “absolute”
motion. If a shot is flipped thus, tattoos, earrings, and clothes will
appear different.

Sound Synchronization Goofs: For most films, dialogue is re-recorded later at
a studio, without the background noise that plagues location shooting. In
attempting to match characters’ dialogue with their lip movements, mistakes
can be made.

Also, the re-recording stage production is also a common place to change
lines of dialogue. Blade Runner (1982) has an example: when Deckard
visits Hassan the snake dealer, their lip movements and body language
don’t match their dialogue.

Post completion requirements: Censorship, studio pressure, and preview
audience reaction can all cause a film to be re-edited. In the case of the
first two, quite often this is done in a hurry and without the original
filmmakers’ involvement/permission, hence inconsistencies and/or technical
problems may be introduced.

Many people hate Harrison Ford‘s voice-overs in the original version
of Blade Runner (1982) – Ford himself being one of them. He was under
contractual obligation to do them when the studio didn’t understand the film,
and by some accounts, deliberately did a less than perfect job.

Artistic License

Finally, in recognition that movies are sometimes just damn good
entertainment, I’ll list a few of the things that usually don’t happen
in real life, but seem to always happen in movies. For an exhaustive
and extremely entertaining list of Film Cliches, see
Giancarlo’s Movie Cliches list.

As these are all too common, the IMDb doesn’t catalog these individual goofs:

  • Cars rarely blow up when they crash, regardless of how much fuel they have
    in them.
  • People usually go into shock when shot, and they suffer long-term effects
    after concussion.
  • Computers don’t explode in a shower of sparks when they malfunction, nor
    do they beep whenever you press a key. In general, picking holes in computer
    systems in movies is extremely easy.
  • People exposed to the vacuum of space don’t explode.
  • People shot with handguns don’t fly backwards.

In Summary

Hopefully this article has given you a deeper insight into the world
of goofs and how they are cataloged in the IMDb. It’s not a simple,
well defined problem, but with a few guidelines and a bit of thought,
the problem can be split up and some solutions implemented.

As with any area of the IMDb, we’re open to suggestions and welcome any
feedback. If you have any questions and/or comments, mail them to me.


by Col Needham

A common question we get on our user survey is “How can I help the IMDb?”

The first way is to help coverage of the database continue to expand
by sending in new information whenever you notice any omissions. This
is best achieved via the button at the bottom of each title and name
page. The database has been built largely from these data contributions
which are then validated, collated and edited by our team of section
editors before being placed online. The occasional mistakes do sometimes
slip through, so also watch for opportunities to send corrections too!

The second way is to visit our sponsors’ sites by clicking the advertising
banners at the top of our pages whenever you see something which
interests you. The ad banners are paying for the IMDb servers, staff
and overall free access to the best movie site on the web. Our ability
to sell banners depends on the response rates received by our sponsors,
both in terms of the number of our users visiting their sites, and most
importantly, buying the sponsor’s products and services. For example,
purchasing videos, books or other products advertised on the IMDb by
clicking the banners instead of buying them elsewhere helps ensure
the future growth of the database. The sponsored banners are clearly
labeled with the text underneath and a “click” icon on the right hand side
(those lacking the text and icon are internal IMDb promotional banners
used to highlight other interesting areas within the site). Similarly
the IMDb earns a commission on any items purchased via our “buy” links.

The third way is to make sure as many people know about the IMDb
as possible, so don’t be shy in telling your friends and co-workers
about the site, or just mention us in USENET news articles. Everyone
is welcome to link to the database from their own pages, either via
a simple link to our home page or direct links to the pages for your
favorite movies and people. For information and help please see:

Finally, if your company is looking to advertise to a large number of
online users (and at the same time support the IMDb) please let your
marketing people know about the database.


by Jon Reeves

One common request we get is for more pictures in the database, especially
a picture on each actor or movie page. There’s a number of reasons we
haven’t done this yet.

First, we have a strong respect for current intellectual property
(copyright) laws; many of the random pictures floating around the net
have been scanned in from magazines and other questionable sources.
(We’re also very fond of the part of the law that says facts cannot be
copyrighted per se.)

This leads to the second approach: license pictures. This would
be expensive, and IMDb has operated on a pay-as-you-go philosophy.
Unlike some web sites, there’s no multinational conglomerate behind us,
and there’s no company trying to float an IPO to cover multi-million
dollar losses; we’re also not just a loss leader for a CD-ROM. As ad
revenue permits, this is certainly one use of the income we will consider,
but our funds are limited and adding more pictures (and accommodating
the bandwidth they consume) may not be the best use of them. Also, many
people like our current low bandwidth format, so even if this happens, it
may be via links.

We do link to thousands of pictures, and to official and unofficial sites
that contain thousands more. Also, we’ve recently made arrangements to
add thousands of posters behind a new icon.


by Col Needham

In conjunction with The Nostalgia Factory we recently launched a movie
posters section. It provides images of posters for both classic and recent
movies alike from across the world with nearly 400 covered to date and
more added each week.

Look for this icon:


by Col Tinto

As we get close to 20,000 movies covered by plot summaries, we still
need your help!

Quite a few new movies listed below don’t have summaries yet, as well
as some older but still reasonable films. So if you’ve seen any of the
films listed below, please submit a summary for it using the normal
submissions process.

Due South (1994) (TV)

Man of the House (1995)

Hamlet (1996)

Cabin Boy (1994)

Sgt. Bilko (1996)

Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy (1996)

Extreme Measures (1996)

The Preacher’s Wife (1996)

The Amityville Horror (1979)

Cry Freedom (1987)

The Scarlet Letter (1995)

The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)

Every Which Way But Loose (1978)

Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)

Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold (1987)

Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993)

Lord of the Flies (1990)

Rescue from Gilligan’s Island (1978) (TV)

Over the Top (1987)

Smokey and the Bandit II (1980)


by Col Tinto

Our genre coverage gets better every week, with around 1000 lines submitted
for 3 or 400 films, but there seem to be a few glaring omissions…

Listed below are a few movies we need a genre and keywords for.

Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)

Antonia (1995)

The Brothers McMullen (1995)

Star Trek: The Next Generation – All Good Things… (1994) (TV)

Restoration (1995)

Made in Heaven (1987)

Mrs. Winterbourne (1996)

Kansas City (1996)

Wuthering Heights (1992)

The Pallbearer (1996)

Dogfight (1991)

Trees Lounge (1996)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Emissary (1993) (TV)

The Substitute (1996)

Emergency (1971) (TV)

My Family (1995)

Five Corners (1987)

Rambo (1987)

Dead Man Walking (1987)

Zulu Dawn (1979)


by Jon Reeves

Here’s the most popular searches people have done lately, based on total
pages for the week ending February 15.


  1. 3. Star Wars (1977)

  2. 23. Shine (1996)

  3. 4. Jerry Maguire (1996)

  4. 11. The English Patient (1996)
  5. 15. Fargo (1996)

  6. 6. Evita (1996)

  7. 26. Star Wars: Episode I (1999)

  8. 12. William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet (1996)
  9. 9. Striptease (1996)

  10. 8. Scream (1996)

  11. 2. Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

  12. 38. Batman & Robin (1997)
  13. -. Sling Blade (1996)

  14. -. Absolute Power (1997)

  15. 7. Independence Day (1996)

  16. 64. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  17. 21. The Rock (1996)

  18. 25. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)

  19. 14. Braveheart (1995)

  20. 20. Pulp Fiction (1994)

As at the box office, Star Wars is an overpowering force, with almost a 2x
lead on the runner up (3x, if you add in all the sequels). Several titles
helped greatly by their Oscar nominations. Last month’s #1, Michael (1996) ,
dropped like a rock to #52. Huh factor: #116
“Faith Baldwin Romance Theatre” (1951), #133 Annadata (1952) .


  1. 1. Tom Cruise

  2. 2. Pamela Anderson

  3. 5. Sharon Stone
  4. 3. Demi Moore

  5. 4. Kim Basinger

  6. 6. Teri Hatcher

  7. 48. Salma Hayek
  8. 15. Harrison Ford

  9. 9. Mel Gibson

  10. 7. Sandra Bullock

  11. 11. Leonardo DiCaprio
  12. 18. Ralph Fiennes

  13. 8. Bo Derek

  14. 17. Alyssa Milano

  15. 21. Arnold Schwarzenegger
  16. 35. Jamie Lee Curtis

  17. 10. Michelle Pfeiffer

  18. 89. Traci Lords

  19. 22. Renee Zellweger
  20. 24. Drew Barrymore

Tom Cruise solidifies his lead on Pammy; last month, he was only about 25%
ahead, this month it’s almost 100%. Two new pin-ups this month; Salma Hayek
on the strength of #33 title Fools Rush In (1997), #37
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) and #78 Desperado (1995);
Traci Lords on general reputation.
Huh factor: Elinor Field at #33.
Hot newcomer: Ewan McGregor at #24.


by Col Needham

Movies opening in the US in January and February sorted by number of votes
(to February 20):

86349.0Star Wars (1977)


40648.5The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
2206.6The Relic (1997)
1978.8Everyone Says I Love You (1996)

1949.3Hamlet (1996)
1708.3Police Story 4: First Strike (1996)
1637.5Dante’s Peak (1997)

1517.1Fierce Creatures (1997)
1278.0In Love and War (1996)
1189.3Lost Highway (1996)

Movies opening in the US in January and February sorted by average votes
(to February 20):

1949.3Hamlet (1996)
1189.3Lost Highway (1996)


86349.0Star Wars (1977)
1978.8Everyone Says I Love You (1996)
668.8Le Huitieme jour (1996)

40648.5The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
1708.3Police Story 4: First Strike (1996)
1278.0In Love and War (1996)

1637.5Dante’s Peak (1997)
857.3Absolute Power (1997)


by Jon Reeves

Just a few of the traditional media outlets that have mentioned us lately:

Connect Time.
The Jerusalem Post.
The Net (twice).
Alta Voltagem (Portugal TV).
Web Week.

PC Magazine.
Yahoo! Internet Life.
Net Talk Live (Dallas TV).
C|Net (Ben Burtt interview).
Cinema (Germany).
epd Film (Germany).
Washington Post.
Film Comment.

Geneva Tribune.

Coming (or already?):
Computer Connection.
Curiocity (coming March 20).

We’ve also won several new awards. See selections from
the gallery here

Your Personal Net Top 100.
NetGuide Platinum Award (5 star rating).
The Net Best of the Web and Top 100.
Top Dog Site of the Day (no archives!).
Funky Site of the Day.

WebGuide Best of Internet.
PC Magazine Top 100.
Chatelaine Connects Editors Choice.
Toxboe Award.
Jayde Gold Diamond. Site of the Day.

360 Award.

And we’re particularly proud of our double win (both Judges’ Selection
and People’s Voice) in yesterday’s Webby Awards. Thanks for all your votes.
(You like us! You really like us!) Look for coverage on PBS, The
Discovery Channel
, C|Net, and in many computer magazines.

Our good friend Greg Bulmash’s WASHED-UPdate was mentioned in:

Jerusalem Post.
Boston Globe.
US Magazine.
Netsurfer Digest.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution.


by Col Needham and Rob Hartill

On the WWW software front, a major internal reorganization has
been completed. Using the latest Apache HTTP server and Doug
MacEachern’s mod_perl, significant improvements have been made in
response times. During the reorganization, a number of new features
were also added (e.g., the linking of laserdisc data).

Mod_perl embeds a Perl5 interpreter into the Apache server. This allows
us to replace old CGI scripts with Perl code that can be pre-”compiled”
and ready to run without forking processes to handle each request. This
is only one part of mod_perl‘s capabilities; we replaced our CGI months
ago; the recent changes have been to make use of mod_perl‘s hooks into
the Apache API. This lets us gain far greater control over the server’s
behavior from the comfort of a Perl programming environment.

A new feature search is available at the bottom of the site index page
and at other useful places in the database. This enables you to quickly
locate particular features (not names and titles) in the database.
For example, use it if you can’t remember where something like the
newsletter archives are kept on the site.

Try it now:

The browsable sections have been extended to include pages for the new
posters section.

The extended search page now supports the option to easily specify
a range of years in a search using a “-” character. For example, if
you’re looking for all US movies released between 1980 and 1985 try:

Year: 1980-1985
Country of Origin: USA

The bottom area of the main search page has also been redesigned to provide
a better arrangement of the various other searches and options. The help for
this page has been enhanced too — click the help link next to the gold
ticket at the top of the search page or read it directly at:

Internally we’ve made further enhancements to the additions interface both
with extra checking at data entry time and improved feedback from the
mail-server. For those people having difficulty with the new system, don’t
forget the alternative template based system, for details send an e-mail
message with the subject “HELP UPDATE” to Finally,
new checking and processing tools are used internally by the section editors
to help validate the information before they add it to the database.

On the local software front, Steffen Siebert’s Alternative Movie Database
package (AMD) provides both a graphical and command line interface to the
IMDb for OS/2 and is available from the usual IMDb FTP sites.


by Michel Hafner

There has been a new keyword installed at the mail server: TITLELOCK.

With TITLELOCK you can lock a title so its spelling can no longer be
changed by incoming corrections or deletions. This is meant for titles
whose correct spelling is likely to be “corrected” and replaced by an
incorrect version.

This could be because most sources have it wrong, because the intricacies
of transliterations from foreign languages are beyond most submitters and
countless variants are fighting for supremacy or for any other reason
that makes incorrect “corrections” likely. It’s also for cases where
these corrections have actually taken place and should be stopped once
and for all. Attempts to correct locked titles will be reported to me
so I can evaluate the situation thoroughly before deciding to apply the
correction or reject it. Explanations as to why a locked title needs
correction after all can be mailed in with a COMMENT-TITLE.

Remember that the “correct” title is always the one that appears on
the screen, regardless of what newspaper articles, advertisements,
or reference books use.

Titles should NOT be locked indiscriminately!


by Rob Hartill

At the time of going to press, we’d just finished switching on a new server
in the UK. The old hardware had been under heavy load for several months
and was groaning under the strain. The new hardware should be 2-3 times
faster than the old. Strangely, many North American users still use the
UK mirror and many UK users use the North American mirrors.

European users are reminded that there are two mirrors of the
database in Europe, one in the UK ( and one in Italy
( Italian speakers should also note that the Italian
titles of many movies are searchable and on display. All servers
are updated at the same time.


by Jon Reeves

This is a regular section giving information about the current size
and growth of the IMDb. We receive between 45,000 and 75,000 additions
every week from users all over the world. (The astute reader will
notice that those numbers are much larger than they were last issue.)

Number of filmography entries: 1,439,506
Number of people covered: 401,091
Number of movies covered: 99,498

Size of the database (Mb): 125

Recent milestones:

  • 25,000 release dates

  • 30,000 sound mix entries

  • 65,000 language entries

  • 90,000 theatrical movies
  • 95,000 country entries

  • 100,000 primary titles (includes TV series)

  • 150,000 titles (including akas)


This is a regular section listing some enhancements we’re currently
looking at. Please bear in mind that some of these may take quite
a while to come to fruition or even fail to materialize because the
original volunteer decides not to proceed.

  • full support for accented characters (ISO 8859-1) without losing
    people that can’t type them. Implementation in progress.
  • a separate list of films in production, with their current status.
  • outline list: a “one line” plot summary, short enough to display
    on the main title page.
  • a list of “influential scenes”… the scenes that launched a thousand
    spoofs, became the director’s trademark, changed cinema forever,
    launched a star.
  • a locally installable MS-Windows interface to the database is
    under final testing for those of you who want to reduce your
    phone bills!
  • enhanced awards section for the database covering more
    international festivals, national film institutes etc.
  • general support for alternate titles in languages other than
    English and the language of the producing country(s).
  • a movie recommendation service that will use your vote records to
    suggest other movies you might enjoy. Initially available via an
    E-mail interface. Time to check you’re up-to-date with your voting!

Academy Awards and Oscar are registered trademarks of the Academy of Motion
Picture Arts and Sciences. UNIX and X Window System are registered trademarks
of The Open Group. The WASHED-UPdate is a trademark of Greg Bulmash. All
other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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