The Ancient World of 1996, Preserved For Us All To See

Someone discovered that Warner Brothers’ official website for the movie Space Jam, created when the movie was released in 1996, is still active and hasn’t been changed since those ancient times. It’s become a very popular destination for internet users who want to be reminded of what the internet was like back then: when it was already popular, but wasn’t exactly dominant, and when the very act of making an official website for a movie seemed a little gimmicky.

I love being reminded of the fact that official websites in 1996 looked almost indistinguishable from amateur websites on Geocities (remember Geocities), with the colourful backgrounds, blocks of text, and occasional pictures. But you know, other than that, these movie tie-in sites haven’t changed very much. Typically, you’ve got the cast and crew information, unrevealing behind-the-scenes revelations, merchandising and (if it’s aimed at kids) some games. That’s pretty much what these sites still are, the difference being that something like the True Grit official site can be even harder to navigate. And some movies don’t even have real web areas of their own, like How Do You Know, also known as “why would anyone let James L. Brooks spend $100 million on a small-scale comedy with appealing but mostly overpaid stars?” The surprising thing is not that official websites looked so slapdash in 1996 but that they haven’t gotten more interesting in the last 15 years.

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