I take interest in this as film and entertainment lawyer. What meaning do you get from this graphic? I made 7 observations below. The overall graphic presents the genre classification of moving image works such as films(*) in the IMDB database from 1910 to 2020.(**) Simply stated, this graphic is a measure of the popularity each year of genre films in the IMDB database.

However, the title of the graphic may mislead some who view it. Each data point on each individual line graphic, from 1910 to 2020, represents the number of works made (not their “popularity”), as represented on the IMDB database. So it’s the number of films made, not the population size that saw them, their revenue or impact.

Simply stated, the graphic is a measure of released genre films made in each year from 1910 to 2020 on the IMDB database.

Actor, Dennis Hopper, in Apocalypse Now (1979)

My 7 observations

  1. Romance, crime, comedy and fantasy works are common from 1910-2020
  2. Thrillers grew steadily after ~1939
  3. Sci-Fi spiked from ~late-1940s
  4. Horror spiked from ~mid-1950s
  5. Documentary grew from ~1960 and spiked from ~1990
  6. Action peaked ~1991
  7. Musicals and war genre works dived from ~mid-to-late-1960s

(*) Many caveats

Actor, Dennis Hopper, in Apocalypse Now (1979)There is likely to be an Anglophone and US bias in the data given the language, origins and use of IMDB. The overall graphic shouldn’t be considered to be representative of global cinema or TV production. Classification by genre may be appropriate for strictly genre films, but is a fraught descriptor for others; some films fit into more than one genre (eg is Apocalypse Now a war or thriller film?)

(**) Source

The graphic appears in the latest Ted Gioia (The Honest Broker) newsletter. He acknowledged its first publication on X on 23 Jan 2022 by the self-described data visualiser who created the graphic, Bo McCready – @boknowsdata

Gioia’s newsletter (subscribe here – ) argued supported by data that the action hero films will be on the wane as the audience numbers are falling, eg for the latest Marvel film. Gioia is a world-class music critic and author, especially for jazz. A large part of his career has been in business consulting.

Noric Dilanchian
Follow