The Official Blog of IMDb

Newsletter #14

June 3rd, 1997 | Posted by admin in Newsletter

this issue edited by Jon Reeves



by Mark Harding

IMDb has partnered with Lew Irwin at StudioBriefing to bring you daily
Movie and TV news. Each day’s news will
be posted on the site between
10 AM and 1 PM Pacific Time.

We hope to secure other sources of news over the coming months.


by Mark Harding

The guest appearance data has been spun off from the biography list into
its very own section. To accommodate the change a new keyword, GUEST, has
been created which supersedes the original GA: tag.

Full details of submissions for the GUEST keyword can be
found here.


by Mark Harding

A new field has been added to the biographies list which records magazine
covers that people have appeared on. The format for the new field is:

CV: * “journal” (country), date, Vol. vol, Iss. iss


NM: Barrymore, Drew

CV: * “Empire” (UK), May 1997, Iss. 95


by Col Needham

US readers may have read about concerns over privacy on the net. We’re
in the middle of writing our formal privacy policy which will be
published on the site. In the meantime just to point out that IMDb
respects the privacy of its users; unless you enter a contest (in
which case we may share it with the sponsor) or write a bio or plot
without asking us to withhold your name or address, we don’t release
your e-mail addresses (or any other personal information for that
matter) to anybody outside the company for any reason and under any
circumstances. We may provide aggregated statistical data from the
surveys, and of course any movie data you provide us (including movie
ranking votes) becomes part of the database.


by Col Needham

This is a follow-up article to the similarly titled one published in
the March newsletter which highlighted the importance of supporting
the database by visiting our sponsors sites through clicking on the
ad banners whenever you see something of interest.

The purpose of this follow-up is to draw your attention to another area
covered in the original article where we need your help. IMDb is an
independent site (and we like it that way) but it does mean there are
fewer opportunities and resources for us to promote and market the
database than exist at other sites which are part of global media empires.

Please remember to tell friends, family and co-workers about the
site. If you can’t easily recall our primary URL, remember that the
site is also available at:

so just typing ‘moviedatabase’ in modern versions of Netscape and MS
Internet Explorer will get you to the site quickly.

We encourage you to mention the site in USENET articles, .signature
files and on your own personal web pages. If you maintain a movie or
celebrity fan page don’t forget you can link direct to any name or
title in the database as described in
our linking guide.

Similarly if you come across sites on your travels around the web which
could be improved by such linking, please point them at the above URL.

Feel free to nominate us for any awards, cool site services and so
on too. If you’ve not already seen them, there’s a good collection
of quotes on the site from professional reviewers.

Just as this newsletter was being finalized we were adding the finishing
touches to a downloadable IMDb demo to show off the depth and breadth
of the IMDb. This is a self-extracting archive for Windows 95/NT/3.1
which contains around 50 selected IMDb pages in a revolving demo,
taking you on a tour at the rate of a couple of pages per minute with
jumping off points to the live site available throughout. You
can view the demo and download it.

A regular zip file version containing the demo pages is also available
for non-Windows users. Point your browser at the index.html file to
start the demo locally.

Please download a copy and pass it around whenever you get the
opportunity. In particular if you have contacts at Internet/computing
magazines which carry a cover CD-ROM, let them know they are most
welcome to distribute the demo.

Thanks for your support as ever.


by Murray Chapman


When the Lumière brothers first demonstrated their primitive “moving
pictures,” they could have hardly guessed that a mere century later
people would be spending hundreds of millions of dollars on creating
movies. Even when compared to today’s cost of living, $100 million
is an incredible amount of money to spend producing a single piece of
“entertainment,” and yet it happens several times over each year.

It seems that every year a new film inherits the title of “The Most
Expensive Film Ever”;
Blade Runner (1982) was considered a
financial juggernaut when it weighed in at $27 million, a sum which
would barely produce a romantic comedy today. With some reports putting
the budget of Titanic (1997) at $240 million, it’s obvious that
the playing field has enlarged considerably in the last 15 years.

One factor that has permitted the budgets of films to increase is
the discovery of the power of merchandising. It’s become almost
routine for a large budget film to be accompanied or even preceded
by an avalanche of action figures, drink cups, posters, T-shirts,
and memorabilia. It’s nearly impossible to walk into a fast food
chain and not see a promotion for the latest Hollywood blockbuster.
As well as providing money, such merchandising increases visibility
for a film, which in turn contributes to the profit margin.

Always looking to exploit the public’s cultivated thirst for movie
information, “The Making Of” television specials often appear around
the time that a major film is released. Producers have recognized that
the process of actually spending $100 million can generate just as
much public interest as what the $100 million actually achieves. From
their humble beginnings as journalistic documentaries, “The Making Of”
specials have grown to be a vital marketing component of big-budget
films; the crews responsible sometimes receive billing in the credits
of the movie itself.

The fact that these specials are made indicates that there is some
market for information about the magic of making films: how do we
create seamless alternative realities? What’s it like to be around
celebrities? What created the film as it stands today? What was
nearly done differently? Can we better understand the film and the
filmmakers by understanding the production history and the personalities
and events involved?

It is this thirst for background understanding that gave birth to what
is now the Trivia section of the Internet Movie Database. A very early
version of the Goofs List had an entry
for Out of Rosenheim (1988)
(aka Bagdad Cafe) which indicated that during the opening credits, the
shadow of the camera crew could be seen on the ground. I happily included
this goof, as it seemed to be another example of sloppy filmmaking.
A few weeks later, however, I received email from an astute reader who
indicated that maybe this “mistake” was deliberate: the shadow is only
visible while the credits for the cinematographer were on screen!

I was immediately struck by the subtlety of this possibility: the
credits directly inform us who has created the film, but at a less
conscious level we are told the same information by seeing this
person’s shadow on the ground. The credits on the screen and the
“breaking of the fourth wall” formed a synergy that sparked my interest.

Movies are loaded with subtleties that can only be appreciated when
you know relevant background information: had this reader not known
what a cinematographer’s function in filmmaking was, I would have
continued to label this brilliant shot an filmmaking error. I began
to look for further instances of “messages” or “in-jokes” in film -
the more I looked, the more I found.

These items were included in the Movie Goofs list, but their popularity
soon made it apparent that they deserved their own list. The Trivia
List was born, and has never looked back! Today, it is approximately
twice the size of the Goofs List, and continues to grow each week.


As well as documenting “did you notice”-type events in films, the Movie
Trivia file originally contained the answers to some “frequently asked
questions” about movies, such as:

(a) What was the origin of the “stinking badges” line in
Blazing Saddles (1974)?

(b) Which film is the most expensive of all time?

(c) Which famous black and white films have been colorized?

These questions were frequently asked in rec.arts.movies, the forum in
which the Trivia List was originally published. Since its incorporation
into the Internet Movie Database, the questions posed above are better
answered by other sections of the database: we have sections for Quotes,
Business Information, and Versions. Storing this information again in
the Trivia List would duplicate effort, and lead to possible quality
control problems.

Unfortunately, the name “Trivia List” has stuck although the contents
have changed over the years. Perhaps a more accurate description would
“a collection of behind-the-scenes and did-you-notice information that
allows us to see films in a different light.” Perhaps this could be
shortened to “Production Information,” but that is uncomfortably close
to the existing “Business Information” section.

So what is left in the Trivia List? Essentially, it records significant,
unexpected, unusual, or interesting events that affected the production
of the film. It also documents subtle references to other movies
and or the movie industry. There are two important parts to this
definition. First, unlike most other sections of the IMDb, the contents
of the Trivia List are not entirely objective. Second, the items in
question must have affected the production of the film.


What is interesting or unexpected for one movie fan does not necessarily
hold true for others.

As editor of the Trivia List, I often have to make judgment calls about
how “interesting” a particular piece of trivia is. In some cases it’s
easy: if it’s scandalous or in poor taste, it is rejected. The difficult
cases are situations where I am unfamiliar with the film and/or events
in question. In these cases, the IMDb’s foundation of user support
in invaluable. Among the users of the IMDb are fans of nearly every
genre of movie, and we rely on each of these groups to “police” their
own field of expertise. The end result is that the data in the IMDb
becomes more accurate and reflects to a greater extent the views of
those who care enough about films to be proactive in utilizing the IMDb.

As with any part of the IMDb, we are open to suggestions and feedback
regarding how to better present movie information. I’ve personally
entertained many lengthy discussions regarding the merits or otherwise
of individual items in the Trivia List. I tend to set a fairly stringent
standards for trivia to satisfy before being included in the list,
but it’s not impossible to persuade me on particular items. In general,
if your submission is similar to something that already exists in the
list, chances are it will be included.


I often receive information that – while interesting and important -
can’t be included in the Trivia List because it didn’t affect the
film. Here are some examples:

(a) John Belushi‘s death by overdose is likely due to his
depression following the box-office failure of
Blues Brothers, The (1980)

(b) “Nine Inch Nails” used a sample from THX 1138 (1970)
in their single “Closer”

Both of these items are related to specific films, but had absolutely
no effect at all on the film itself, as they occurred after the film
was completed:

Belushi’s death is tragic, especially considering that although it
bombed when released, Blues Brothers, The (1980) has subsequently
been hailed as a masterpiece. His suicide had no effect on the making
of the film. Accordingly, this information can be stored in Belushi’s
biographical entry.

Conversely, the events that transpire in Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
take on a whole new significance when you understand that author
John O’Brien (II) committed suicide while the film was being
made, apparently afraid that the film of his life story would be a
disaster. It’s unquestionable that the suicide of the author had an
effect on the filmmakers, and thus knowing this information adds to
the viewing experience.

It’s beyond the scope of the Trivia List to document the non-film
phenomena that have been inspired by a particular film. This is an
open-ended task; certainly an immense job if it is attempted for all
films. Sampling is merely a single instance of this, and there is an
entire web site devoted to this subject. Did you know that the $27 million
juggernaut Blade Runner (1982) is the world’s most sampled movie?

The Trivia List (and even the IMDb) can’t hope to store all information
that relates to every film. The Trivia List will go into a certain
amount of detail describing production events, but beyond this level
we draw the line. The Trivia List should have “good” trivia coverage
over many films, rather than “exhaustive” coverage of a few at the
expense of other equally worthy films.

I regularly encourage people who send in mountains of information on
a particular film to publish the information themselves. We will be
only too happy to link from a particular person/title to someone’s WWW
page. In this way, people’s own interpretations beyond the guidelines
for acceptable trivia can be found via the IMDb.

At the other end of the scale, the Trivia List is not designed to
point out the obvious. We like to leave room for viewers to discover
the major story-telling subtleties on their own. Having said that,
however, it should be recognized that there are many plot “spoilers”
in the Trivia list.


Well, not quite. Movies have their urban legends, just like any other
part of life. Despite being thoroughly debunked and specifically
mentioned in the submissions guides, people still send in the ghost
rumors about Three Men and a Baby (1987), and the suicide rumors
from Wizard of Oz, The (1939). In the hope of eventually quashing
these persistent rumors, I break the rules and make some mention of
them in the Trivia List.

I enjoy editing the Trivia List, as it offers me the chance of deeper
understanding of films. It’s my hope that by providing this information,
the IMDb helps distribute this chance for understanding to users. I
also sincerely hope that users find the Trivia section of the IMDb an
entertaining and informative resource.

A browser for the Trivia List
is available.


by Jon Reeves

Here’s the most popular searches people have done lately, based on total
pages for the week ending May 31.


  1. 10. Lost World: Jurassic Park, The (1997)

  2. 17. Fifth Element, The (1997)

  3. 5. Jerry Maguire (1996)
  4. 1. Star Wars (1977)

  5. 4. Batman & Robin (1997)

  6. 35. Jurassic Park (1993)

  7. 3. Romeo + Juliet (1996)
  8. -. Addicted to Love (1997)

  9. 9. Scream (1996)

  10. 13. Star Wars: Episode I (1999)

  11. 25. Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
  12. 14. Pulp Fiction (1994)

  13. 23. Basic Instinct (1992)

  14. 2. Saint, The (1997)

  15. 6. English Patient, The (1996)
  16. 38. Men in Black (1997)

  17. 192. Absolute Power (1997)

  18. 27. Rock, The (1996)

  19. 19. Independence Day (1996)
  20. 18. Fargo (1996)

Well, just like the box office,
The Lost World
demolished the competition, with roughly a 3-to-1 margin, and brings
older brother
up to #6 as well.

slips to #22, probably because of the delays.
Con Air
at #35 at this pre-promotion snapshot.
has legs, but
Chasing Amy
dropped to #43. Huh factor: #84
Hellfire: A Journey from Hiroshima (1987)
(OK, you folks must know *something* about it; send it in!).


  1. 1. Pamela Anderson

  2. -. Milla Jovovich

  3. 2. Tom Cruise
  4. 3. Sharon Stone

  5. 26. Ren�e Zellweger

  6. 13. Sandra Bullock

  7. 5. Brad Pitt
  8. 38. Petra Verkaik

  9. 8. Teri Hatcher

  10. 9. Leonardo DiCaprio

  11. -. Julianne Moore
  12. 12. Kim Basinger

  13. 6. Harrison Ford

  14. 10. Demi Moore

  15. 11. Alyssa Milano
  16. 16. Michelle Pfeiffer

  17. 7. Elisabeth Shue

  18. 14. Mel Gibson

  19. 24. Nicole Eggert
  20. -. Kelly Preston

I see people have discovered
Milla Jovovich‘s
acting (and I use the word loosely) career. The drop of
Harrison Ford
is mildly surprising, though it mirrors the drop in
Star Wars.
And it’s nice to see
Julianne Moore

getting recognition, even if it is just for screaming (OK, cheesecake boys:
Short Cuts).
Huh factor: #57
James Montgomery Flagg
(only 1 behind
Quentin Tarantino!);
Spike Cherrie.
Jake Lloyd
at #83 will probably rank higher next time.


by Col Needham

Movies opening in the US from mid-April to June sorted by number of votes
(to June 5):

15468.5 Fifth Element, The (1997)
7136.8 Lost World: Jurassic Park, The (1997)

2707.6 Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
2197.1 Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997)
1946.8 Volcano (1997)

1816.0 Anaconda (1997)
1577.5 Breakdown (1997)
927.5 Addicted to Love (1997)

717.1 Murder at 1600 (1997)
597.3 Night Falls on Manhattan (1997)

Movies opening in the US from mid-April to June sorted by average votes
(to June 5):



15468.5 Fifth Element, The (1997)
448.5 Twin Town (1997)
358.3 Paradise Road (1997)

237.9 Nowhere (1997)
2707.6 Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)
1577.5 Breakdown (1997)

927.5 Addicted to Love (1997)
597.3 Night Falls on Manhattan (1997)
2197.1 Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997)

717.1 Murder at 1600 (1997)


by Jon Reeves

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

Washington Post.
New Media Age.
ZDF (TV, Germany).
Courier-Mail (Brisbane Australia).

Watch for articles in: CNR Magazine (Spain)

And it’s hardly “traditional media” but our time on top of the Netscape
What’s Cool page was certainly significant.

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

Yell for the UK (Reader’s Choice nominee).
UK Plus: Editor’s Choice.

CyberTeddy Top 500.

Our good friend Greg Bulmash’s WASHED-UPdate has its awards:

Dr. Daniel’s Movie Emergency: Panacea Pick of the Week.

And it was mentioned in:

Boston Phoenix.

Washington Post.
The Internet News with Charles Bowen.
St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Internet Tourbus.


by Col Needham

Want to know what was happening in the movie industry in the year you
were born? You can now browse over 100 years of movie history via our
In This Year feature which is accessible via the main search page,
the “go” menu and also by clicking on the year shown under the title
on any movie page. A series of reports are available for each year,
including a full list of titles; top grossing movies in the USA; main
Academy Awards; most popular movies in our user poll; births, deaths
and marriages; top countries and genres; world events; and finally, a
title search which operates on titles for the chosen year. In addition
you may browse various IMDb sections for each year, for example, look
at goofs from last year or posters from 1948.
A year by year index for
each of the sections provides an alternate view of the same data.
In This Year also
provides convenient access to movies planned for the next two or
three years.

We’ve created a separate mailing list for IMDb announcements to cover
new features and updates to the site as they are added. To subscribe
send a blank e-mail message to

The biographies searcher has been extended to allow searches for all
the births, deaths and marriages in a specific year and also to search
by birth location (if you’ve ever wondered if your town has produced
any celebrities). The biographies search is available via a link
towards the bottom of the main IMDb search page

The “On this day in movie history” page
now has links to the Studio Briefing

news for that day (see earlier). We’ve also linked the
birth/death/marriage years to complete lists of the corresponding
information for the same year.

The local cinema schedules for the USA
now includes a MovieLink form to obtain times and tickets for cinemas in
your area.

On the local software front, Steffen Siebert’s Alternative Movie
Database package (AMD) is now available for Windows 95 and NT (text
interface only) from the usual IMDb FTP sites.


by Jon Reeves

This is a regular section giving information about the current size
and growth of the IMDb. We receive between 50,000 and 75,000 additions
every week (to all lists, not just those in the totals below) from users
all over the world.

The most important milestone this month: 100,000 theatrical movies.

Number of filmography entries: 1,642,728
Number of people covered: 448,214
Number of movies covered: 109,941

Size of the database (Mb): 146

    Recent milestones:
  • 4,000 soundtracks
  • 10,000 alternate names

  • 10,000 titles with distributor entries

  • 50,000 production company titles

  • 50,000 cinematographer entries

  • 100,000 director entries

  • 100,000 theatrical movies
  • 100,000 genre entries

  • 250,000 miscellaneous filmography entries

  • 300,000 actress entries


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.

  • 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.
  • 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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