moviemistakes.com was started by British film buff Jon Sandys (me) in September 1996, and is updated pretty much every day. It's a place to read and list all those maddening inconsistencies that most of have noticed at least a few of in our favourite movies and TV shows - things changing between shots, historical inaccuracies, and film crew or equipment creeping into view.
The vast majority of the entries are submitted by visitors, and proof-read by me before going online. Any inaccuracies can be pointed out by other visitors who submit corrections, correct spellings, etc. Many entries are backed up by screenshots, and things can be up- or down-voted to reflect accuracy and quality.
From just a few entries it's grown to well over 100,000 mistakes from more than 10,000 movies and TV shows, plus quotes, trivia, and more. Enjoy your time on the site, please add things you've spotted, and contact me if you have any questions.
History of the site
The first instances of my mistake-spotting mentality actually came up when watching Jurassic Park in the cinema in 1993, spotting the arrow changing directions and the 'live' video that was blatantly pre-recorded. In 1996 we got our first home internet connection and our ISP provided some free web space - I wanted to play about with it, and being a film nerd landed on mistakes as a topic.
Initially the site was just a single page with a few mistakes and an e-mail address (The internet archive's only got the redirects left after I moved it - here). I did some research into promoting it, swapped some links, and very slowly traffic grew, with a few people adding more mistakes. Eventually I decided it would be sensible to split up the site into alphabetical links (first major design change - big step at the time!).
Our ISP contacted me sometime in 1998, politely informing me that the site was generating too much traffic for a personal homepage and they couldn't host it anymore. Panic loomed - I still had no major plans for it, but I'd worked on it for nigh on 2 years, so didn't want it to disappear. Fortunately I learned that my university gave all the students webspace, so I transferred it to their servers (here), and before too long it was the third most popular section of the entire Southampton site, only behind the student homepage and the main homepage!
Soon after, things picked up quite quickly. With no warning at all, in I think 1998, the Times ran a story about mistakes in films, giving the address of my site, and traffic jumped to an unprecedented (for me anyway) 800 or so hits a day (bear in mind the online population was a lot smaller, plus newspapers weren't really online). I was now a student at the start of the dot-com boom reading about the wonders of internet advertising, but wasn't allowed to on the university servers. As such, come July 1999 I registered the domain 'movie-mistakes.com' (the non-hyphenated version was owned by someone else at the time), moved off the university servers onto proper paid for hosting, did another round of promotion, and traffic soon jumped to about 2,000 visitors a day (the miracle of a sensible domain name). For anyone keeping track, the Internet Archive page for movie-mistakes.com is here.
The advertising paid my rent at least, which was a nice surprise, and made me realise that there was perhaps some potential in the site. Over the next year or so traffic increased steadily, and given that this was the period of genuinely insane advertising rates, when I graduated in 2000 I stayed living in Southampton to run the site - it wasn't a job as such, but was kind of a website-fuelled gap year.
Then of course the dot-com collapse came, taking ad revenues with it, and while the site was still as popular, I knew (or rather, thought) that any chances of running it as a job were dead. Thinking back, I don't recall having any real thoughts for trying to spread its reach (such as membership, more publicity, etc.) - maybe I was just thinking small. However, in April 2001 a story popped up in a UK newspaper about mistakes in the Oscar-nominated 'Gladiator', and that day I was contacted by the Big Breakfast (popular UK breakfast show, now sadly cancelled), inviting me on to talk about mistakes and show off a few. I went on, spouted some drivel, managed to plug the site, and figured that was it, until a few days later they called back, saying the item had gone down well and would I like to come back next week? Of course I would! So I went back the next week, and the next, and the next...
That was a major lifting point for the site - although the address itself rarely got a mention, I was on air for a year, and about 1 show in 4 on the way home I'd get a call from someone who'd seen the show and wanted to do an interview or similar, all of which helped plug the site and boost its popularity. Sadly the Big Breakfast came to the end of its run in April 2002.
On 27th August 2001, thanks entirely to the technical knowledge of a friend of mine, this site moved from a horribly clunky design (which despite a few facelifts hadn't changed much in 5 years) to an all-new singing, dancing, database-driven, funky-graphicked (for the time) look. In one fell swoop updating the site (which had always been a huge hassle) became a breeze, new entries could be highlighted easily, and a world of opportunity opened up.
In 2002 I finally managed to get hold of the moviemistakes.com domain name, the owner of which had been surprisingly hard to track down, and that caused another jump in traffic. The Movie Mistakes book came out in August 2002, with a few updates in the years following, along with a TV Mistakes book and 'Movie Mavericks', a collection of movie trivia. In December 2003, a story about mistakes in The Return of the King was posted on Slashdot, causing traffic to top 100,000 visitors in a day.
I hit a new all-time visitor record somwhere around 150,000 on both the 3rd and 4th of January 2005, largely due to a 'top mistakes of 2004' list which got picked up by a few places. As ever, the site crashed a bit, prompting both a server upgrade and a hurried re-write of a few pages (you never realise how inefficient some areas are until they're busy).
Membership proved a popular feature, and managing that since April 2003 taught me huge amounts about developing features for the site myself, resulting in various improvements/additions/alterations. Ultimately this site is nothing without visitors - it's in my interest to make it as good as possible, and to that end I'm always keen to hear suggestions for new features. Thanks to the hard-working members OneHappyHusky and Tailkinker, as of 2008 the site has had its own Wikipedia entry. Courtesy of mistakes in Skyfall getting a lot of press coverage, on the 3rd January 2013, there were 124,784 visitors.
The site's scope has widened over time, as a result of suggestions and my own random thoughts, to take in areas such as movie quotes, trailers, and the like. Not mistake-related in particular, but of interest to enough people to make them worthwhile. The site was rebuilt entirely over the course of 2012 to modernise it, as between 2001 and 2012 it had become a Frankenstein's monster of code, alterations, additions, and tweaks. While my web development skills are lacking in some areas, they're always improving, if slowly. As such it now works properly on mobile devices and can scale across screen sizes. Submitting things has become more fluid, and it's easier on the admin side.
I never intended this site to be anything more than just a random experiment to work out how to design a web page, which is possibly why it's done so much better than I could ever have imagined. Finding a topic I was interested in and learning more about films, mistakes, and web design as I went made it a labour of love, rather than a chore! I'm very grateful to everyone who's helped make this site what it is, and hopefully it will continue to go from strength to strength.
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