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C'mon Hollywood: Where are all the cool opening credits sequences?

07.18.2017

I can recall the first time I saw a movie without an opening credits scene. It was MUMMY RETURNS. I remember being distracted during the whole Scorpion King prologue, because I was thinking…wait…where are the opening credits? Afterwards, I thought I just imagined it wasn’t there. But, nope, after seeing it a few times more, I found out it was true: the movie just starts in headfirst without so much as a goddamn title. Not even a title! Now, I don’t think that’s the first movie to not have an opening credits sequence (if we’re being pedantic, I’m sure a lot of early silent films didn’t), but it’s the first modern movie I noticed. And it’s been a trend ever since, which I personally think is a bummer

The thing is, an opening credits scene can help establish a tone and feel of a particular film right away. Look at any David Fincher film, who was a master at it (in fact, seeing the opening credits of FIGHT CLUB in the background at a friend’s birthday party – with the riding the CG brain-thing – was what made me seek out the film later in the first place). However, his masterstroke is still SE7EN. The pounding Nine Inch Nails remixed version of “Closer”, the scratchy film stock, the eerie montage of creepy scribbles – it lets you know this is going to a grimy, gritty, disturbing pic.

But it’s not just Fincher. Look at classic films that utilized the work of Saul Bass (who was famous for these kinds of sequences), that usually let you know you were in for a fun time at the movies with colorful collages and jaunty music, or a thrilling time with stark imagery and a foreboding score. Or how about those 80s comedies with the cartoon opening, ala WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S? Whatever the filmmakers had in mind, these opening credits helped to get you in the mood for what was to come.

Beyond all that, there’s also a lot of mastery and artistry that goes into these types of credits. The use of color, editing, and music to create a unique visual style, as well as one that helps evoke what the film is about, takes skill. There’s a reason the aforementioned Saul Bass was in such high demand in the ‘60s and ‘70s…not very many people were as good as him at it. But it's not just him, we've had great opening credits sequences over the years, and a few (like WATCHMEN) are better than the films themselves.

Now are opening credits necessary for creating a mood and tone for a film? Of course not! And they’re not completely out of fashion (even if for the most part they are, besides a few exceptions). Hell, some movies probably benefit without one. So I’m not asking to have every movie have one – which was the requirement back in the day – but for it to be deployed a lot more freely.

Speaking of requirements, that’s another thing that’s kind of cool about opening credits – you have to watch them. While we have what would normally have been opening credits at the end of films now, people still leave the theater once the first credits roll (unless it’s a Marvel film). This means a lot of people don’t see the names of the people who worked so hard on the film. Sure, you wouldn’t want the ten minute scroll that credits have become to open your movie, but even a few names wouldn’t hurt ya, would it? And if audiences do think their time is too precious to wait, at least most don't skip the opening.  

Now, it’s not say the art is entirely dead. And I’m not talking about relatively recent ones like the aforementioned WATCHMEN or THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (and even calling those recent is pushing it), but rather television. There’s the classic GAME OF THRONES sequence, but also the impressive credits of AMERICAN GODS, TRUE DETECTIVE, WESTWORLD, etc. These openings do what they’re supposed to: create a tone, mood, and atmosphere, while also giving credit where it’s due. But most of all it prepares you for what the show has to offer. And that makes sense for shows, as there are so many out there, that the shows have to grab your attention immediately before you change the channel or switch it off to binge another show. A film has the benefit of you presumably paying a ticket and stuck I one spot for two hours.

However, even shows aren’t immune to this! Popular shows like RIVERDALE show their title after a cold open – no theme song, no montage of cast members, no nothing. I’m sure at a certain point shows will do the same thing movies have done with this art and cast it aside.

But what do you Schmoes think? Do you miss the art of the opening credit sequence in films, or do you think it deserves to go extinct? Either way, sound off below!

Extra Tidbit: Also, what's your Schmoes favorite opening credits sequence (I still have a soft spot for WATCHMEN)? Either way, sound off below!
Source: JoBlo.com

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