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Exclusive: A Statistical Analysis of the Vampire Trend, Pre- and Post-Twilight

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Trade News | May 21, 2010 |


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Yesterday, stardust raised an interesting point in the post on Blood Oath, saying: "You know what I would really like to see? A comparison of the number of big-studio or credible indie vampire flicks* released per yer before Twilight and after Twilight. I wonder if the number has really increased that much since Twilight."

So I made graphs.*

Well, the long story is that I wrote a program to hit up IMDB's plot description search for the term "vampire" and then parse the results into something I could bang around with in Excel. IMDB had 925 different items, dating back to an entry from 1896. These include feature films, straight to video, television series and individual television episodes. Then I made graphs.

So this first graph shows by decade (and then every five years once we hit the nineties) how many items were released that used the word "vampire." The "All" category is all of them, "Feature Films" is only feature films, and "Non-Episodes" means feature films in addition to television series (the whole series used "vampire" in the description, not a particular episode), short films and any other random thing that wasn't just an episode of something else.

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There's definitely a baseline level of vampire media that starts to grow in the early nineties and then really spikes after 2005. Of course, this could just be because IMDB is far more likely to have info on more recent non-mainstream items in addition to the more general explosion in media over the last decade and a half. Remember, back in the eighties they only had two television channels and one of them was Mr. Rogers.

Next up, we've got the same thing except just year by year since 1996. And we see a similar trend, with relatively static levels all the way up until 2006 (the year after Twilight (the novel) was released) when we see a noticeable bump. 2007 backed off a bit and then 2008 (the year Twilight (the film) was released) jumped again, followed by another jump in 2009. I take 2010 with a grain of salt since we're still in the midst of it.

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This last graph is the most interesting I think. It shows the same year by year of the last fifteen years, but tracks only two things. The first color on there is "New Series," which is the number of new television series that were started up that year, which have "vampire" in their plot description. Note, this is the overall series plot description, not the plot description of their individual episodes. This is a little misleading because it doesn't account for ongoing series (i.e. "Buffy" starts in 1997 but is on the air for the next seven years) because quite simply that would have taken another couple of hours of work and I get paid by the word not the hour. In any case, we see a couple new series per year until a horrible vampiric drought in 2002 and 2003, followed by a spike in new series between 3 and 6 per year until the present. Interestingly, that spike precedes the publication of Twilight by a year.

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The second set of colored bars is more interesting. "Random Episodes" means I counted episodes that contained "vampire" in their plot description when the overall series plot description did not include the word "vampire." This is a good measure of more general cultural gestalt. When "True Blood" has a vampire episode, that doesn't mean much. When "CSI," "Grey's Anatomy," and "Teletubbies" all do within a few months, that's kind of interesting. We see a pretty dramatic spike in 2006 and 2009, the years after both Twilight the book and movie, respectively.

What does it all add up to? 42.

* Note: I do not claim that these findings even remotely hold up to statistical or scientific rigor. Any attempt to hold them up to such standards will be roundly ridiculed.


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