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  #1  
Old 08-10-2011, 04:14 AM
Martini Enfield Martini Enfield is offline
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When did movies stop having all the credits at the beginning?

I was watching an old 1960s Western the other day, and thought it was interesting that, at the start of the movie, they had all the credits- you know, "Starring", "Also Starring", "Camera Crew/Technical People", "Directed By" etc- which went on for some time before the movie itself actually started. Conversely, the end of the film was almost, quite literally, "THE END- Released by [Studio]". No loooong credits listing everyone who had anything even tangentially to do with the film like we see nowadays.

Now, I'm not for a moment saying that people who worked on a film shouldn't receive credit for it (and it's not the topic of this OP), and I realise modern movies generally have both credits at the start and more comprehensive ones at the end, but what I was wondering was "When did they switch from having all the credits at the beginning of a movie to putting them all at the end?"
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  #2  
Old 08-10-2011, 05:03 AM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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When the TV remote control was invented.

Really.
Movies that do not go over well go quickly to TV, and there are also made-for-TV movies. But with remote controls, TV shows (including movies) have to catch the viewers attention quickly, or they will click over to see what's showing on another channel. So TV channels began demanding that movies shown on their network do NOT start out with boring credits.

For the same reason, TV shows no longer have much in the way of theme songs & intros.
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  #3  
Old 08-10-2011, 07:25 AM
obfusciatrist obfusciatrist is offline
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Citizen Kane had end credits. So did Around the World in 80 Days (which still has one of the longest end credits ever). While it wasn't common until the mid-70s it did happen before then.

I'm not sure what the driving force was in the changeover but it seems to me that it may not have been a single thing. TV might be a factor but front credits and TV airings of movies overlapped by a couple decades. Intermissions for epically long movies seem to have also died out in roughly the same timeframe as well. I'm also curious about union contracts specifying who gets credit as a chicken and end thing, as the list grew might that have increased pressure to move them to the end or once they were moved to the end did adding names become an easier concession?

Last edited by obfusciatrist; 08-10-2011 at 07:27 AM..
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  #4  
Old 08-10-2011, 07:48 AM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by t-bonham@scc.net View Post
When the TV remote control was invented.

Really.
Movies that do not go over well go quickly to TV, and there are also made-for-TV movies. But with remote controls, TV shows (including movies) have to catch the viewers attention quickly, or they will click over to see what's showing on another channel. So TV channels began demanding that movies shown on their network do NOT start out with boring credits.
I'd love to see a cite on this. It seems highly unlikely. Catching the credits for a movie is a good way to draw people in with remote controls ("John Wayne is in this movie? I love him.").

Quote:
For the same reason, TV shows no longer have much in the way of theme songs & intros.
No. TV shows have cut back on credits because the running time of a show has been cut back over the years; in order to tell the story, the producers of the show don't waste time on credits. They've ended theme songs because the concept is passe and considered a bit cheesy.

The real impetus had nothing to do with TV. Producers were obligated to put the director's name as the final credit before the film ran. There also were other contractual reasons to put other members of the cast and crew before the movie began. (The earlier exceptions dated from before the rules were finalized). Because of this, all films had the main credits before the film began.

The break was Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Lucas wanted the film to run without opening credits, so he started with the name of the film and then the opening crawl. The Director's Guild filed a grievance, which Lucas lost and paid a fine (chump change compared to the film's gross, of course). After this, rules were set up so that the Director's name could be listed as the first credit after the end of the movie. Once that was allowed, producers started doing this more regularly.
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  #5  
Old 08-10-2011, 09:36 AM
joebuck20 joebuck20 is offline
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Don't know when they started making the changeover.

But Apocalypse Now is the earliest movie I can think of that had no opening credits whatsoever.
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  #6  
Old 08-10-2011, 09:45 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Wikipedia has an interesting discussion. It agrees with the idea that although some films occasionally put most of the credits at the end, Star Wars is what tipped the balance.
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  #7  
Old 08-10-2011, 09:45 AM
Dread Pirate Jimbo Dread Pirate Jimbo is offline
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Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
<snip>
The break was Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Lucas wanted the film to run without opening credits, so he started with the name of the film and then the opening crawl. The Director's Guild filed a grievance, which Lucas lost and paid a fine (chump change compared to the film's gross, of course). After this, rules were set up so that the Director's name could be listed as the first credit after the end of the movie. Once that was allowed, producers started doing this more regularly.
This is the answer I've heard as well. The Star Wars trilogy ran without opening credits in direct violation of union agreements that certain persons must have their names front and centre at the start of the film and those movies were the impetus for changing that requirement.
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  #8  
Old 08-10-2011, 09:50 AM
Ike Witt Ike Witt is online now
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Originally Posted by Dread Pirate Jimbo View Post
This is the answer I've heard as well. The Star Wars trilogy ran without opening credits in direct violation of union agreements that certain persons must have their names front and centre at the start of the film and those movies were the impetus for changing that requirement.
I've heard that Lucas got special approval for Star Wars, but not for the ESB. He quit the directors guild over it.
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  #9  
Old 08-10-2011, 09:57 AM
Hampshire Hampshire is offline
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Well I'll give Lucas a gold star for that one.
Opening credits sucked. You get all pumped and hyped for a movie to begin and then by the time they're done running the neverending credits you're so bored/pissed that it totally ruins your mood for the movie. I'm looking at YOU Superman the Motion Picture.
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  #10  
Old 08-10-2011, 09:58 AM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by t-bonham@scc.net View Post
When the TV remote control was invented.

Really.
Movies that do not go over well go quickly to TV, and there are also made-for-TV movies. But with remote controls, TV shows (including movies) have to catch the viewers attention quickly, or they will click over to see what's showing on another channel. So TV channels began demanding that movies shown on their network do NOT start out with boring credits.

For the same reason, TV shows no longer have much in the way of theme songs & intros.
The remote control was invented in the 1950s. The cold opening became popular in the 1990s. Movies ended opening credits mostly in the 1980s. And of course, all older movies have them to this day. Three different events with no connection to one another.
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  #11  
Old 08-10-2011, 10:13 AM
obfusciatrist obfusciatrist is offline
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Originally Posted by Hampshire View Post
You get all pumped and hyped for a movie to begin and then by the time they're done running the neverending credits you're so bored/pissed that it totally ruins your mood for the movie. I'm looking at YOU Superman the Motion Picture.
I have no memory myself one way or the other (haven't seen the movie in its entirety since I was 10) but the Wikipedia page on closing credits lists Superman as a movie with long closing credits, at the time of its release the longest credits sequence ever. Is that incorrect?
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  #12  
Old 08-10-2011, 10:15 AM
obfusciatrist obfusciatrist is offline
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I'd be curious as well on the international experience. Did French films, for example, follow the same general history?
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  #13  
Old 08-10-2011, 10:46 AM
Tim R. Mortiss Tim R. Mortiss is offline
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I hate it when there are no opening credits! I like to be told who the stars, producer, and director are before it starts. They can save all the minor details for the end (I stay and watch those too, while my GF waits in the lobby), but I like to know the major players before the film starts.

This new trend is so disturbing to me that I try to remember to go to IMDb to pre-read the credits before I go to a movie.
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Old 08-10-2011, 10:49 AM
The Other Waldo Pepper The Other Waldo Pepper is online now
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Originally Posted by Hampshire View Post
Well I'll give Lucas a gold star for that one.
Opening credits sucked. You get all pumped and hyped for a movie to begin and then by the time they're done running the neverending credits you're so bored/pissed that it totally ruins your mood for the movie. I'm looking at YOU Superman the Motion Picture.
Go see Captain America, which uses the Apocalypse Now approach -- no opening credits at all, not even the title -- and then ends the movie with a parade of triumphantly over-the-top retro credits built around WWII-era propaganda posters as the patriotic music cues up. Because, hey, we all know you're going to stick around until after the credits, so you might as well have something to watch, right?

(Though on preview, I see this is going to bug Tim R. Mortiss...)
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  #15  
Old 08-10-2011, 11:09 AM
Hampshire Hampshire is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by obfusciatrist View Post
I have no memory myself one way or the other (haven't seen the movie in its entirety since I was 10) but the Wikipedia page on closing credits lists Superman as a movie with long closing credits, at the time of its release the longest credits sequence ever. Is that incorrect?
I haven't seen it in decades either but just remembered it. Found "Superman The Movie Opening Credits" on youtube. Not epically long but still about 4 minutes worth of names wooshing by one-by-one.
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  #16  
Old 08-10-2011, 11:10 AM
Hampshire Hampshire is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim R. Mortiss View Post
I hate it when there are no opening credits! I like to be told who the stars, producer, and director are before it starts. They can save all the minor details for the end (I stay and watch those too, while my GF waits in the lobby), but I like to know the major players before the film starts.
Maybe it's just me but I usually already know who the stars and director are before watching a movie.
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  #17  
Old 08-10-2011, 11:22 AM
obfusciatrist obfusciatrist is offline
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Tengential but the rules around credits are interesting. A publicist once mistakenly distributed the credit "rules" for one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies with the other press materials.

The Pirates movies do not have any opening named credits, just production company logos and then the movie starts.

One of the interesting things was that because Walt Disney is dead, the standard Walt Disney Studios logo was fine before the movie, but since no other living people were credited at the front of the movie it was required that the Jerry Bruckheimer Films (or whatever it is called) production company credit had to use a logo (the lightning hitting the three one) without the normal accompanying text since it includes Bruckheimer's name.

So now I know that when I see a logo with a name oddly removed ahead of a movie it probably indicates there'll be no opening credits.

Last edited by obfusciatrist; 08-10-2011 at 11:23 AM..
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Old 08-10-2011, 11:23 AM
DCnDC DCnDC is online now
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Originally Posted by Hampshire View Post
Opening credits sucked. You get all pumped and hyped for a movie to begin and then by the time they're done running the neverending credits you're so bored/pissed that it totally ruins your mood for the movie. I'm looking at YOU Superman the Motion Picture.
I feel the same way about trailers. After sitting through 20 minutes of trailers, of which only maybe one of them looked at all interesting, and most likely gives away the entire movie anyway, I've actually forgotten what movie I was there to see.
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  #19  
Old 08-10-2011, 11:29 AM
Labdad Labdad is offline
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The first film I recall having all its credits at the end was 2001: A Space Odyssey.
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  #20  
Old 08-10-2011, 03:53 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
The remote control was invented in the 1950s. The cold opening became popular in the 1990s. Movies ended opening credits mostly in the 1980s. And of course, all older movies have them to this day. Three different events with no connection to one another.
The remote control was invented much earlier than that; there were some popular ones for radios around 1939. But they became popular in the mid-1980's, reaching 2 million sold about 1989-1990. Right about the time movies moved credits to the end, and cold openings became popular. Not a coincidence.
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  #21  
Old 08-10-2011, 04:26 PM
Tanbarkie Tanbarkie is offline
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Originally Posted by The Other Waldo Pepper View Post
Go see Captain America, which uses the Apocalypse Now approach -- no opening credits at all, not even the title -- and then ends the movie with a parade of triumphantly over-the-top retro credits built around WWII-era propaganda posters as the patriotic music cues up. Because, hey, we all know you're going to stick around until after the credits, so you might as well have something to watch, right?

(Though on preview, I see this is going to bug Tim R. Mortiss...)
This is the way to do it for modern audiences. Opening credits (with a few notable exceptions - "Spider-man 2" being the first to come to mind) are usually a snoozefest for the audience, especially considering that said modern audience already had to sit through 15+ minutes of trailers, commercials, and theater informational clips.

Creatively produced end credits can be used to "call back" to the movie the audience just watched in an entertaining manner. Sometimes this comes in the form of a blooper reel. Pixar movies frequently use the approach described above for "Captain America," using animation to create little side stories involving the characters ("Finding Nemo," "Ratatouille") or even to add epilogues to the main story ("Wall-E," "Toy Story 3"). In a few particularly inspired instances, Pixar even created animated fake blooper reels for their credits sequences.

By putting the credits at the end, modern moviemakers avoid deflating the audience's enthusiasm before the movie even begins. By using the raw material of the movie the audience just watched to pep up the end credits, they create an incentive for people to stick around and find out who is responsible for the production. It's a win-win situation.

Last edited by Tanbarkie; 08-10-2011 at 04:28 PM..
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  #22  
Old 08-12-2011, 10:30 AM
Nature's Call Nature's Call is offline
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I feel the same way about trailers. After sitting through 20 minutes of trailers, of which only maybe one of them looked at all interesting, and most likely gives away the entire movie anyway, I've actually forgotten what movie I was there to see.
Amen!

Years ago, when the actual movie finally started and the opening credits reminded me of the movie I let out a quite audible, "Oh yeah!" as in "Oh yeah, THAT's the movie we came to see." Ever since it has become a running joke in our family to say "Oh yeah" in unison when the movie finally starts.
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Old 08-12-2011, 11:40 AM
Skywatcher Skywatcher is offline
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I recently bought a DVD of this Disney movie from '79 for screengrabs to post at the IMCDb. All credits are at the beginning.
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