It’s not just movie fans, either. Film journalists have also been swept up in the Internet Movie Database’s revolution.
“I can’t imagine doing the job now without the IMDb,” says The Guardian’s film critic Peter Bradshaw. “It is one of the wonders of the internet.
A lot of critics used to be compendium-isers and encyclopaedists. They knew everything and could do
a kind of nerdy top ten one-upmanship on everybody else.
The IMDb has shorn away what used to be valued in criticism – sheer brute quantum knowledge.
Critics now have to persuade. They have to be performers. They have to be evangelisers. They have to fight their corner because they can’t just say, ‘We know more about it than you’ anymore.”
Bradshaw agrees that it’s a travesty the way the IMDb is so overlooked at home. “Why aren’t they in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list? Dyson gets a gong for inventing his vacuum cleaner. These guys should get a knighthood for inventing the IMDb. It should be Sir Col Needham in my opinion.”
For Needham, though, the pleasure lies in his own list, not the Queen’s.
What started as a compulsive desire to record information on every movie he’d ever watched has now developed into an international collective of film fans working together to create the biggest database of “film, television and celebrity” anywhere, ever.
As IMDb is about to enter its 19th year, the future looks bright for the site: full-length, downloadable films from the IMDb and Amazon aren’t far away.
But the cataloguing task remains immense. Every minute, the list grows a little longer and Needham – still the same square-eyed film fan he’s always been – keeps his own personal film tally growing.
“My original database of what I’ve seen and when has now been imported into my IMDb ‘My Movies’ list,” he laughs. “I guess the listing has come full circle…”
Interview By Jamie Russell