The sole reference to Inland Empire in the film is when Gordy tells Smithy that the Phantom is gone, and that he "talked, mumbled something about Inland Empire." Smithy seems worried to hear this; since the Phantom moves in next door to Sue, it is possible that Sue and Smithy live in Inland Empire. (However, on set, Lynch and Dern referred to Smithy's home as "the Valley house," likely placing its location in the San Fernando Valley).
A broader definition of the "Inland Empire" area includes Pomona. Street Person #2 says that Niko lives in Pomona, and she and Street Person #1 have a lengthy discussion regarding whether there is a bus from Hollywood to Pomona.
- Lynch gave the film this title when Laura Dern told him that her boyfriend (later husband) Ben Harper was raised in Inland Empire. Lynch immediately knew that he wanted this to be the title of the film. Later, Lynch's brother sent him a scrapbook Lynch had made when he was five. On the first page was an aerial photo of Spokane with the words "Inland Empire" written beneath, so Lynch new he was "on the right track." (Source: Catching the Big Fish, David Lynch, 2006, Penguin Group, p. 143.)
- Several other works by David Lynch are titled after place names, both real and fictional: Mulholland Drive, Twin Peaks, Lost Highway and Dune.