The Weirdest Zip Codes on the New York Times Netflix Map

Slate's Culture Blog
Jan. 11 2010 12:03 PM

The Weirdest Zip Codes on the New York Times Netflix Map

On Saturday, the New York Times posted an interactive map of Netflix rental patterns in 12 U.S. cities, broken down by ZIP code. The map is smartly designed and great fun to explore, yet what strikes you almost immediately is the lack of regional variation. The most-popular movies across each urban area are films that contended in last year's Oscars— The Curious Case of Benjamin Button , Doubt , Milk , Vicky Christina Barcelona , The Wrestler , Rachel Getting Married —plus a handful of less heady titles: Paul Blart , Eagle Eye , Twilight .

But not all of the ZIPs are so boring. Perusing the New York map over the weekend, Slate contributor Mike Shollar came across 11371, in Flushing, Queens, N.Y. Its Top 10:

1. Wall-E
2. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
3. Oz: Season 3: Disc 1
4. Watchmen
5. The Midnight Meat Train
6. Man, Woman, and the Wall
7. Traffic
8. Romancing the Stone
9. Crocodile Dundee 2
10. Godzilla's Revenge

Why such an idiosyncratic list? According to Zipcode.com , 11371 has a population of zero—it's LaGuardia Airport. Presumably, this list represents the taste of a small number of people (a single person?) who registered a Netflix account to a mailstop at LGA. Mike noticed a similar phenomenon in Chicago, where O'Hare has its own zip. The top titles in 60666 :

1. Year of the Dragon
2. Transporter 3
3. Somewhere in Time
4. Videodrome
5. A Prayer for the Dying
6. Sixteen Candles
7. Orlando
8. Pale Rider
9. The Breakfast Club
10. Raising Arizona

It's not just airports that have more eclectic lists. College campuses often have their own ZIPs as well. The University of Denver, which resides in 80208, would seem to have particularly collegiate taste:

1. Flight of the Conchords: Season 1: Disc 2
2. W.
3. Volver
4. Weeds: Season 2: Disc 2
5. Appaloosa
6. Weeds: Season 2: Disc 1
7. Defiance
8. Eastern Promises
9. The Visitor
10. The Duchess

Other pockets of resistance to Oscar dominance include, interestingly, the ZIP codes in which some of the major studios reside. Universal City, home to Universal Studios, is in ZIP code 91608 . Its Top 10:

1. Twilight
2. Vicky Christina Barcelona
3. Taken
4. I Love You, Man
5. RocknRolla
6. Cloverfield
7. Changeling
8. Body of Lies
9. Sicko
10. True Blood: Season 1, Disc 1

One final zip-code category that produces entertaining Top 10s: areas largely taken up by federal or state government. For example, 80225 , home to the Denver Federal Center . Get the sense this list reflects the taste of a single Netflix subscriber?

1. Entourage: Season 1: Disc 1
2. Patton Oswalt: No Reason to Complain: Uncensored
3. Richard Jeni: A Big Steaming Pile of Me
4. Psych: Season 1: Disc 1
5. Heckler
6. Robot Chicken: Season 1: Disc 1
7. Patton Oswalt: My Weakness Is Strong
8. Psych: Season 1: Disc 2
9. Patton Oswalt: Werewolves and Lollipops
10. Psych: Season 1: Disc 3

This is hardly a comprehensive list of ZIP codes with unique taste in cinema. Brow Beat readers: Have you noticed a strange ZIP on the Times 's Netflix map? E-mail me at dvdextras@gmail.com , and be sure to send along your best guess at what's afoot in that ZIP. And if you're a skycap with a fondness for the adventure movies of the 1980s or a federal employee with a deep appreciation for Patton Oswalt, we'd love to hear from you as well.

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Update, Jan. 13, 8:13a.m.: Click here for more weird Netflix zip codes, discovered by Slate readers.

John Swansburg is Slate's deputy editor.