movie/tv show credits

Is it somehow required by production companies to show the credits at the beginning and end of a movie/show? Or is it just an act of arrogance by the directors and producers to distract everyone by putting their names on the screen at the beginning of the movie? I have always wondered this.

I doubt that it’s a requirement. I don’t see how it’s all that arrogant either. The directors, producers etc have contributed to the making of the film. I don’t see any difference between this situation and that of a newly published book which includes both the title and the author’s name on the front cover.

The various Guilds that work in Hollywood - the Directors Guild and the Writers Guild, for sure, and possibly others - have extremely strict union agreements negotiated with the movie studios that mandate the placement of credits, along with rules on who can be credited and what credits are allowed.

The director’s name, for example, must either be the very last name if the credits are in the beginning or the very first name if the credits are at the end. Only one person can be credited as director, unless a known directing team of two people share credit. No more than three writers can be credited on a movie - though, again, writing teams of two count as one.

Here’s the Producers Guild “credit for” page.

Internal disputes are settled by binding arbitration. External disputes can lead to lawsuits.

Television is too varied a term to be covered by these agreements, although it may depend on whether we’re talking about a network prime-time show made by a studio owned by a movie company or not. Late night talk shows, for example, often truncate their credits severely if the show runs long.

There are a million other guilds and unions in Hollywood. They don’t have a say in credit, AFAIK, but if you are going to mention their members then certain requirements do apply.

Nothing in Hollywood is accidental. It’s all about egos.

While watching some George Lucas special recently they mentioned that the Director’s Guild of America, while ignoring it when he made Star Wars, fined Lucas $250,000 for not placing credits at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back. In response, Lucas paid the fine, then promptly quit both the DGA and the Writer’s Guild. (Strangely, lots of Websites incorrectly say this happened for Star Wars, but I watched the special yesterday and they definitely said it was Empire).

Robert Rodriguez dropped out of the directors guild in order to give Frank Miller co-directing credit for Sin City.

Actors and top crew members (director, producers, writers, etc.) negotiate with the production company not only for pay and perks, but also for credits. For instance, the leading actors’ contracts will usually specify that their names appear at 100% of the size of the largest name in the credits, and don’t share the screen with anyone else. If you’re a B-level star, your name may be only 75% and grouped with one or two other people.

Some films start only with a title credit, and sometimes not even that. But in that case they usually end with duplicate credits that appear to be the standard opening credits followed by the standard closing credits. I suspect this happens because credit details were negotiated before the decision was made not to put any credits at the head of the film.

In my decades of watching Letterman, I’ve observed that most nights they only run the short list, but at least once a week they’ll close with the full credit scroll.

I’ve been slowly going through my Babylon 5 disks and puzzling a bit over the whys and wherefores of credits. Now, this is television so the rules are a bit different than movies, but each episode starts with the teaser, then the title and Starring three or four people depending on which season it is, then Also Starring the rest of the regulars except at the end, it’s With Peter Jusasik and Andreas Katsulas. I’m assuming that’s all arranged as part of the negotiations when the actors signed on.

It’s the lesser credits I’m wondering about. After the first commercial break you get the episode title and Guest Starring credits, with an occasional Special Guest Star or Special Appearance by, say, Walter Koenig as Bester or Melissa Gilbert as Anna Sheridan. After some of the production credits (Music, D.P., etc.) it’s always Written By and Directed By dead last.

Finally, at the end of the program you get the spear carriers (You know, Guard #3, Med Tech, etc.) as Featuring, at least in the first three seasons. Starting in season 4 you start seeing Co-Starring more and more, and Featuring less and less, to the point where it’s eliminated all together – they’re all co-stars.

Again, I’m sure it’s all a matter of negotation, but other than ego, is there any difference between a Guest Star, a Co-Star, and someone who’s only Featured? And where does a Special Guest Star fit in? I can see differences in salary being part of and tied to one’s ‘rank’ but is there more, perhaps in the residuals?