ByKristin Lai, writer at
MP Staff Writer, cinephile and resident Slytherclaw // UCLA Alumna // Follow me on Twitter: kristin_lai
Kristin Lai

Col Needham, the founder and CEO of Internet Movie Database (IMDb), turned his love of movies into his life's work.

Starting almost 40 years ago, at the age of 13, Needham began logging and recording every movie he watched. This hobby of a passionate cinephile ended up becoming what we know now as IMDb. In an interview with The LA Times, he explained what first inspired him to start keeping track of the movies he watched.

"I'd be watching movies and would notice all of these connections between films. I was a big Cary Grant fan, so putting all of the information in a little database, for example, helped me keep track of which Cary Grant films I'd seen. It's a bit geeky, but it worked out all right in the end."

Col Needham, IMDb founder and CEO
Col Needham, IMDb founder and CEO

It all working out in the end is quite the understatement, considering that IMDb is the world's go-to online database. With 3.9 million titles and 7.4 million people listed on the site, Needham's pet-project-turned-website-turned-Amazon-subsidiary has blossomed into a wealth of knowledge capable of answering almost any movie-related question.

Recently, Needham attended the premiere of the upcoming movie A Monster Calls, and the screening was his 10,000th movie. Focus Features caught up with the self-proclaimed movie nerd to talk about the titles that impacted him the most.

Here are five important movie lessons we learned from Needham's experiences watching 10,000 movies.

Keep Your Tastes Eclectic


After watching 10,000 movies, I think the biggest lesson to learn from Needham is that it's important to keep watching new things. He listed Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo — which he fist saw in November, 1989 — as his all-time favorite movie, followed closely by Christopher Nolan's Inception. Two hugely different movies, both beloved by Needham.


Who knows when you'll stumble upon a new director, actor, screenwriter or genre that will ignite a fire in you? No one is saying you have to watch 10,000 of them to find a favorite, but you never know what movie might surprise you next.

Watch And Re-Watch All The Movies


Needham's record of 10,000 unique movies is an impressive statistic in itself, but that number only includes first-time viewings. Once he factors in duplicates, that figure almost doubles.

Since starting his log on January 1, 1980, Needham says that he has watched just shy of 17,000 movies total. What's movie has he viewed more times than any other in that 10,000? James Cameron's Aliens (1986)! Unfortunately, he didn't disclose how many times he's watched that title alone.

Give Into All The Feels

Field of Dreams
Field of Dreams

Movies are an exercise in empathy and catharsis. When watching, it's important to let those feelings wash over you long and hard. After all, isn't that the director's intended purpose? For a man who has seen 10,000 movies, some hit Needham's emotional core harder than others.

Asked for the movie that made him tear up the most, it came down to Phil Alden Robinson's 1989 baseball classic, Field of Dreams. Mainly, towards the end when Moonlight Graham has to decide whether to stay young and keep playing baseball, or to save Karin's Life.

The movie that had the most emotional impact on Needham, however, was James Cameron's 1997 Academy Award-winning Titanic. In the video, he describes a movie-going experience unlike any other, thanks to the sheer intensity of the sinking scene.

"I actually did something that I've never done in any other movie. I closed my eyes because the emotional intensity of the ship sinking was just so huge that I had to close them and take myself out of the movie. Never done it before, never done it since. But that's the power, that's the real power of movies."

After re-watching that scene, I can't blame him for closing his eyes. But it's worth remembering to keep your heart open to these experiences filmmakers want to share with you. Besides, as far as I know, no one is strong enough to not tear up during the last 20 minutes of Field of Dreams.

Sigourney Weaver Is The “Secret Sauce”

Sigourney Weaver in A Monster Calls
Sigourney Weaver in A Monster Calls

Needham explains how serendipitous it was for A Monster Calls to be his 10,000th film. In addition playing protagonist Connor's grandmother, she was also star of his most-watched movie, Aliens.

The roles might be 30 years apart, but Weaver has proven herself an extraordinary talent. Needham dubbed the Oscar-nominated actress the "secret sauce" that makes so many movies special for him.

2016’s Must-Watch Film Is A Monster Calls

Based on the 2011 novel of the same title by Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls has become the talk of the town after premiering at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival last month. Not only was A Monster Call become a milestone for Needham, it also became his favorite film of 2016 thus far.

"A Monster Calls being my 10,000th film is a real honor for me. It's simultaneously an adventure, fantasy, real life. It's my number one film of 2016. I absolutely love it. It's a very very special film."

If a man who has seen 10,000 unique films says it’s the best of the year, clearly we all need to listen.

Check out the trailer for A Monster Calls below.

Now you know some of the tricks of the trade from the IMDb founder and CEO himself. Plus, you didn't have to watch 10,000 movies to learn them. Everybody wins!

A Monster Calls will be released in theaters on December 23.

Do you know how many unique movies you've seen in your life? If so, share your estimate in the comments section.

Hitchcock's Vertigo
Hitchcock's Vertigo

[Source: LA Times, Focus Features]


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