chapter  16
14 Pages

Measuring online word-of-mouth: the initial reception of Inland Empire (2006) on the web

ByWarren Buckland

This study takes as its starting point Janet Staiger’s well-defined agenda for reception studies, as expressed in her book Interpreting Films: studies in the historical reception of American cinema (1992). For Staiger, reception studies researches ‘the history of the interactions between real readers and texts, actual spectators and films’ (1992: 8). The interactions take the mediated form of newspaper reviews and feature articles. Rather than privilege one review over others, she studies the range of interpretations and evaluations found in the reviews, and provides explanations for the reasons behind those variations. In this essay, I take into consideration Staiger’s emphasis on the history of interactions. I focus on the historical context in which David Lynch’s Inland Empire (2006) was initially received, a context dominated by bloggers, online reviews, and especially internet users actively seeking information on the film. Yet, making sense of this information presents problems because it is so vast, and therefore difficult to perceive and comprehend. For example, one author mentions that, even as far back as 2008, there were more than one trillion websites (Soar 2011: 3), while ‘www.’, which measures internet traffic, estimated that in the United States alone, internet users conducted a total of 19.5 billion search queries in August 2011, with Google coming out on top with 12.5 billion searches (see comScore 2011).