The Official Blog of IMDb

Newsletter #17

August 24th, 1998 | Posted by admin in Newsletter

this issue edited by Jon Reeves











by Rob Hartill
We know you loved them ;-) but we’ve finally gotten rid of those pesky
weekly URLs containing numeric values that made it awkward to link to the
database. As you’ll notice while wandering the site, those URLs have been
replaced with more permanent ones (some names/titles will change over time,
so there’s a <0.5% chance that a title/name will use a different URL from
one week to the next from now on).
You may also have noticed that many URLs changed, e.g. from /M/title-exact?

to /Title?. This should compensate for some of the extra space consumed
by the permanent URLs.
All existing links into the database are unaffected. If you have links that
use the old style URLs, please consider moving them to the new style when
convenient as this will help browsers and proxies to cache the new URLs
rather than new and old together.





by Giancarlo Cairella
The “In Production” section has
been revamped and now includes more detailed information about the production
status of each title. This can be one of the following:


greenlighted/confirmed projects in a very early stage of
development. The sequels to high-profile productions that are immediately
announced after the original film has hit the box office would fall
into this category (like “Men In Black 2“).
the film is in development and in the initial stages of
production (casting, location scouting etc.) but it’s still not filming.
self explanatory. Principal photography is currently being shot
on location or in the studio.
filming has been completed, the film is now in the
scoring/editing/effects phase. 


the film is more or less complete but is still awaiting a
proper release. In this phase the film might be shown during test/sneak
previews for further editing or reshoots.

Each entry may include more extensive comments about the status of the
project, including news, updates, rumors and other data submitted by users.
A date field will also tell the user when that title’s information has been
updated for the last time.
The “In production” data is now also listed on the corresponding title details pages.








by Oliver Heidelbach
The IMDb awards section is filling out well with many awards covered
completely. As a result, the old method of tagging awards by cryptic
attributes in filmography listings (as in “BS:AAN”) has been largely phased
out. Some old abbreviated award attributes will remain attached to
filmographies for a little longer until they have a corresponding entry in
the dedicated awards section.
The awards pages have also been redesigned for easier viewing. Here are a
sample title and a
sample name.






by Rob Hartill
We’ve occasionally been asked by people if we can put photographs they have
online. Sometimes these photographs have been scanned by fans of actors
and actresses, and due to copyright issues we cannot include them directly
in the database (i.e. served from our machines). However, other times the
requests have come from the subjects themselves, their agents, friends or
family. We now accept authorized photograph images from these individuals
if copyright issues permit.
If you own a photograph or have the right to allow IMDb to publish a
photograph of a person in the database and would like us to add it to this
person’s biography page then please contact us to arrange a convenient way
for us to receive the image.
The photographs will appear on the biographies page and should preferably
be headshots; no pin-up photos please (those can be sent privately ;-).


Please send enquiries (do not include the photo/image)
to Please do not use this address for any other
correspondence, requests for photographs will be ignored.
For an example of how this new feature appears,
see this photo sent to us by Michael Driesch.


Note that we may need to shrink and/or crop images to more appropriate sizes.





We’ve improved the way filmographies are listed when the actor/actress has
appeared in a long running TV-series. The year they first appeared (as used
in the character name field where known) now overrides the year the series
first aired in the filmography sort order. For example
see Meg Ryan and
her early 1980s appearances in “As the World Turns” (1956). There
is more information on this issue in the FAQ.






by Jon Reeves
Over the years, one popular request has been for a brief summary of a
movie’s content on the main movie page. Since the existing plot summaries
were usually too long to display conveniently, a new list has been started:
the plot outline list. A plot outline is one or at most two lines long.
Only a single outline is stored for each title, and while we retain the
author’s name internally, it’s not displayed.
The outline list was started with the shorter entries from the existing
plot list as well as some outlines written by team members; in its short
life, it has proved to be very popular.
To submit a plot outline, use the keyword OUTLINE and the same tags as the
plot list — MV:, PL:, BY: — but be sure to use no more than two
80-character lines for the PL tag or your outline will be rejected.






Over the months, we’ve made a number of minor improvements to the web
interface that you might have noticed. The year and country browsers now
include release data; there’s a title browser; and, most significantly,
there are a number of new search options available at the main search page.

You can now search taglines; more search options have moved from the obscure
advanced search page to the main search page; you can now do a new search
from any search result page; and there’s a new power search.
The power search makes complex searches easier; for instance, if you have
already found all movies directed by Alfred Hitchcock, you can use the
power search to limit the display to only those that were in color without
having to start a new search.






by Jon Reeves


Longtime IMDb contributor Greg Bulmash decided to stop writing his column,
The WASHED-UPdate, in March (he swears it was a coincidence that he had
just met me in person). However, he has recently become an IMDb employee
and has plans for several new features. Since he will also be taking over
the newsletter, I’ll let him explain them himself in the next issue.





by Mark Harding
To complement the mail server TEMPLATE method of submitting data, we’ve
added a new method, called KEYWORDS, which aims to improve the accuracy of
the submissions made, resulting in data being added in an accurate and
timely fashion to the site.

The KEYWORDS method places some extra responsibility on you, the submitter,
to ensure that what you submit is correctly formatted and conforms to the
current IMDb rules for data submission. The upshot of this, as noted above,
is that data can be added more quickly because less of the information will
be rejected during team processing due to problems.
The problem with the existing template method is that very little checking
is possible until the template has been processed and packaged up for the
IMDb team to process. By this time, important contextual information can
be lost, leaving the manager unsure what to do, which in turn can lead to
errors in the data or outright rejection of information.
The KEYWORDS method attempts to solve this problem by handing responsibility
for “correctness” back to the submitter, who, after all, knows what they
are trying to submit :-)
Using this approach, templates are edited as normal, and submitted using
the new command KEYWORDS TITLE, but rather than being passed directly to
the IMDb team, all the new data in the template is converted into keyword
additions and returned to the submitter. The submitter then checks that
they are happy with the conversion before submitting the new keyword data
to the traditional additions interface for processing. Any
problems with the submission are then returned to the user for attention,
correction and resubmission.

We hope that you will take the time to familiarize yourself with this method
of submission because, at the end of the day, we all want the IMDb to be
the best movie resource in the world!





by Col Needham
At the end of April IMDb was acquired
by The details were
widely circulated in a press release at the time.
As mentioned in the release, Amazon expects IMDb to support its eventual
entry into online video sales on their web site. In addition, the intention
is to continue to maintain and grow the existing IMDb site at
The difference being that IMDb will now be properly funded, staffed and
supported, so the long term future and success of the site is secured.

All the existing IMDb staff are staying on so the site is being run by
exactly the same people as always. I will continue as the managing director
of IMDb Ltd which is now a subsidiary of Inc. Everyone at IMDb
is pleased to see the deal completed and we’re all looking forward to the
future with Amazon. There is an excellent match between the cultures and
people at the two companies.
The changes to current features and options at the regular
site should be minimal, aside from improvements we will be able to make as
a result of access to better resources. We’ve already been able to expand
the staff significantly and many new features are starting to appear as a
result. This week saw the launch of the user comments system — something
we’ve wanted to add for a long time. A long overdue site redesign is on
the way too.
Thanks to everyone who has supported the IMDb over the years. We hope this
support will continue. Please contact the
IMDb feedback address if
you have any specific questions regarding this






by James Herbert
One of the new features we’ve been able to add as a result of the
acquisition by Amazon is a user submitted reviews section. We’ve wanted
to add this for so long but previously didn’t have the resources to do so.
To add your own comments about a movie or TV series you have views on, look
for the link at the bottom of the production’s page saying “I’ve seen
this movie and would like to comment on it”. After clicking on that
link entering your comments is very easy. You can read comments by clicking
on the appropriate menu item.
Please note that you must read the guidelines before you start posting
comments; each comment is checked by a human and it is always a shame to
reject comments in which people have gone to great lengths to spell out
the entire story or discuss the views put forth by others.
In order to comment, you must be a registered user.






by Michel Hafner
We have introduced a new format for the collection and display of data
about alternative titles. The main change is that the old attribute field
has been replaced by two new fields, one for the country and language and
one for the title type. In addition these fields are now based on finite
sets of valid attributes that are accepted by the mail server. Attributes
not in these sets are rejected. Also, the country-language attribute must
be defined. The new data format is

primary title|alternative title|country-language attribute|title-type attribute|

The country-language field records the country in which the alternative
title has been used together with the language of the title or alternatively
the language region of a multilingual country. The valid set of
country-language attributes contains all currently valid countries, plus
several other members that include a country and language. See
the submission guide for the complete current list.
The type of a title should be explained in the title-type field. Again,
see the submission guide for the current complete list; a few common
ones follow:
(TV title)
(abbreviated title)
(promotional abbreviation)
(working title)
If these sets do not provide the specific attribute you need please use a
COMMENT-AKA and define the new required attribute for your alternative
title(s). If it’s appropriate and generally useful it will be added to the
set of valid attributes. The new format will allow for easy integration of
general alternative titles that go beyond the current set of acceptable
titles that is limited to titles in the (co-)producing countries of a film.
But keep in mind that for the time being we still do not accept general
alternative titles. There are some additional aspects worth mentioning that
have been added to the additions guide for alternative titles. If you intend
to mail in new alternative titles please have a look at this updated guide
before you do so.






by Jon Reeves
Here’s the most popular searches people have done lately, based on total
pages for the week ending August 23. Since it’s been so long since the
last issue, I’m going to skip the comparative positions. Suffice to say
Titanic was on top for a long time.

  1. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
  2. Blade (1998)


  4. Titanic (1997)
  5. Armageddon (1998)
  6. Avengers, The (1998)
  7. There’s Something About Mary (1998)
  8. X Files, The (1998)
  9. Ever After (1998)
  10. Dead Man on Campus (1998)
  11. Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)
  12. 54 (1998)


  14. Snake Eyes (1998)
  15. Star Wars: Episode I (1999)
  16. Wild Things (1998)
  17. Wag the Dog (1998)
  18. Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
  19. Good Will Hunting (1997)
  20. How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998)
  21. Godzilla (1998)
  22. Mask of Zorro, The (1998)


The usual batch of new releases, cult faves, and new-to-video, with the
Wag the Dog making a strong showing. The
Pam-n-Tommy tape is lurking in its trenchcoat at #91;
27 different TV series in the top 300 (up from 22 last time); 25 of the
AFI 100 titles made the list, but 23 made it last time without the publicity,
so it’s not clear if the AFI helped. Big prerelease interest in
Dogma, helped by
Kevin Smith‘s strong web presence. And renewed interest in everything connected to
Spielberg, and

Kubrick as well.

  1. Pamela Anderson
  2. Leonardo DiCaprio
  3. Bruce Willis
  4. Tom Hanks
  5. Traci Lords


  7. Ben Affleck
  8. Harrison Ford
  9. Steven Spielberg
  10. Neve Campbell
  11. Drew Barrymore
  12. Denise Richards
  13. Uma Thurman
  14. Matt Damon
  15. Tom Cruise


  17. Nicolas Cage
  18. Cameron Diaz
  19. Kari Wuhrer
  20. Robert De Niro
  21. Demi Moore
  22. Mel Gibson

No big surprises in the top of this list.
Mark-Paul Gosselaar apparently made a strong impression in

Dead Man on Campus to land at #37; in fact, nominal star
Tom Everett Scott only made #89, also losing to wild man
Lochlyn Munro (#71). And after an initial strong showing, the
Saving Private Ryan supporting ensemble has dropped off sharply, mostly landing lower than
Edward Burns (#61).
Lark Voorhies landed at #99 for no apparent reason except an old guest shot on

ST: DS9.





by Col Needham
Movies opening in the US from January to July sorted by number of votes
(to July 24):

0000011101 2198 6.5 Deep Impact (1998) 


0000000123 2065 8.5 Truman Show, The (1998)
1000000002 1951 5.5 Godzilla (1998)
0000001113 1509 8.1 X Files, The (1998) 


1000000112 1481 7.0 Armageddon (1998)
0000001222 1414 7.9 Big Lebowski, The (1998)
0000001112 1371 7.4 Wedding Singer, The (1998) 


1000011101 1342 5.9 Lost in Space (1998)
1000001112 1220 6.5 Man in the Iron Mask, The (1998/I)
0000001112 1028 7.3 City of Angels (1998) 


Movies opening in the US from January to July sorted by average votes
(to July 24):

0000000123 423 8.6 There’s Something About Mary (1998)
0000000123 2065 8.5 Truman Show, The (1998)


386 8.5 Spanish Prisoner, The (1997)
0000000123 583 8.3 Mulan (1998)
0000000223 258 8.3 Shooting Fish (1997) 


0000001113 1509 8.1 X Files, The (1998)
0000000114 378 8.1 Apostle, The (1997)
0000001222 241 8.1 Mask of Zorro, The (1998) 


0000001222 509 8.0 Out of Sight (1998)
0000001222 1414 7.9 Big Lebowski, The (1998)






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

Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada).
Arizona Star [10 January].
Tampa Bay [8 January].
Wilmington NC Star [8 January].
Santa Rosa Press Democrat (online feature);
reprinted in, Charlotte Observer.
Syndicated TV Q&A column.

Journal Now (Winston-Salem NC).
Austin Chronicle.
Contra Costa Times.
Weekly Mail & Guardian (South Africa).
The Internet Cafe.
The Guardian (UK).
The Industry Standard (several times).

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

PC Magazine Top 100 sites.
Virgilio site of the day.
Global Information Infrastructure Awards Finalist.
Cool Site of the Day (finally).

Los Angeles Times Pick (6 July).

And again this year, we won both the Judge’s and People’s
Choice Webby award in
the film category. Thanks
for voting for us. We are the only site to win both awards both years.
Greg Bulmash’s WASHED-UPdate, before he stopped writing it, was mentioned in:

Wild Wild Web Site of the Week






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
thousands of users all over the world.


   Number of filmography entries: 2,406,554
   Number of people covered:        616,324
   Number of movies covered:        156,133

Size of the database (Mb): 244
Not-so-recent milestones (some are far surpassed now):



  • 100 trailers
  • 500 titles with crazy credits
  • 500 DVDs
  • 1,000 awards known


  • 1,000 movies with alternate versions
  • 1,500 posters
  • 4,000 mini-biographies
  • 5,000 titles with taglines
  • 7,500 titles with outlines


  • 10,000 titles with literature entries
  • 10,000 miscellaneous company entries
  • 10,000 name URLs
  • 25,000 awards entries
  • 25,000 alternate names


  • 25,000 certificate entries
  • 25,000 distributor entries
  • 25,000 location entries
  • 25,000 titles with plot summaries
  • 50,000 biography entries


  • 50,000 editor entries
  • 50,000 release dates
  • 50,000 sound mix entries
  • 50,000 title URLs
  • 50,000 alternate titles


  • 100,000 color-information entries
  • 100,000 guest appearances
  • 100,000 language entries
  • 100,000 producer entries
  • 100,000 production company entries


  • 125,000 country entries
  • 125,000 director entries
  • 125,000 writer entries
  • 150,000 movies
  • 200,000 genre entries


  • 250,000 titles
  • 750,000 actors
  • 1,250,000 acting credits
  • 2,250,000 filmography entries

A note on the plot summary milestone: very short summaries were split out
to the separate outline list, so the 25,000 milestone was reached once before.






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 long-overdue redesign is in the works; don’t worry, we know you
    like our lightweight use of graphics and lack of useless glitz.
    In fact, the redesign should make the site even faster.


  • online review and updating of your voting history


  • a company information list, analogous to the biography list, with
    details about both current and defunct companies.


  • a split of the “miscellaneous” filmographies into more manageable
    departmental lists


  • improved handling of episodes in television series


  • 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!


  • a list of “influential scenes”… the scenes that launched a thousand
    spoofs, became the director’s trademark, changed cinema forever,
    launched a star.




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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