Finding the midpoint of film releases


"We're talking about Thunderdome. It's from before you were born."

"Most movies are from before I was born."

That statement spurred a pretty interesting question: what's the date where that statement is no longer true? Put another way, what date in history has an equal number of films made before and after it?

My birthday, November 4, 1985, felt like a relatively safe date, but really, no one had a clue if what I said was true, including me. Guesses by about a dozen coworkers included dates from September 1963 all the way to September 2001.

Knowing that IMDB makes their data publicly available, I decided to find the actual date. Using the most current releases.list file (1/17/14 at the time of writing), I held the following assumptions:

  1. Only films. The release-dates.list also includes TV shows and video games. It also includes movies that went straight to video - those count.

  2. Films with a release date in the future do not count.

  3. If the film was released multiple times (different release dates for different countries), use the earliest release date.

  4. If only a release month and year were provided, assume the 15th of that month.

  5. If only a release year was provided, assume July 2nd of that year.

The result?

May 15, 2002.

Of course, given the current rate at which films are being made, this analysis is already out of date.

For those interested, you can find the code here.