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?”

When the TV remote control was invented.

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.

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?

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.”).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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’d be curious as well on the international experience. Did French films, for example, follow the same general history?

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.

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…)

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.

Maybe it’s just me but I usually already know who the stars and director are before watching a movie.

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.

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.

The first film I recall having all its credits at the end was 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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.