As the closing credits begin to role for Marvel films there are those that leave and those that stay to see another quick scene. But what about movies that don’t have end-credit scenes? Do those credits still matter?

Why Credits?

When we look back at the history of film throughout the last century we can certainly see how the use of credits has evolved. Credits were traditionally shown before any of the action of the film took place because audiences of that time were making the transition from stage shows to motion pictures. When a theater patron would walk into a stage performance they would have been given a play bill that would list the names of the actors and the crew members who made the show possible. As the transition to motion pictures was happening it was still important for cast and crew to be recognized so the natural place to do that was before the film started.

As our culture began to go to staged productions less and less and instead flocked to their local cinema, credits started being utilized in a different manner besides at the beginning while the opening score played underneath.

Saul Bass showed through his graphic art style that the names of those involved could still be shown, while setting the tone of the film and giving the audience an idea of what they could expect. While Bass’s influence can still be seen in films today, the credits he was creating were still being shown at the start of a film.

We are now in a time period of cinema where credits are only shown at the beginning of the film if it is trying to invoke a feeling of a time gone by like with 2012 Best Picture The Artist or Quentin Tarrantino’s Django Unchained. Instead, credits are now placed at the end of the film and signify, to most movie-goers, that it’s now time to leave or that it’s time to wait for an extra scene.

But, credits shouldn’t be treated that way.

Respect the Credits

Films have a long history of being associated with one person. Do the Right Thing is Spike Lee’s joint. The Thing is John Carpenters. We think of George Lucas when we think Star Wars and the same for Stephen Spielberg with Jaws. But the truth is that filmmaking is a collaborative process, not even Tyler Perry can make a film entirely by himself. And in today’s age of films relying heavily on special effects it takes hundreds upon hundreds, if not thousands, of people to create any given movie.

And that is where the credits come in.

A credits sequence gives the audience a chance to read the names of the people that don’t make it on to the posters outside the theater. The names of the men and women who are hanging lights, preparing the food, keeping track of the budget, moving the equipment from set to set, gathering permits and filling in for the stars worth millions when a big stunt needs to be preformed. All of those people and more deserve their chance to be recognized and we should let them have it.

Stay Till the End

Now, none of us can possibly read all the names that come across the screen at the end of the latest blockbuster, and that’s okay. What we can do is stay in our seat for four extra minutes and realize how many people it took to create what we just watched.

Try and read down a column as it scrolls across. Count how many visual effects houses it took to finish the film. Figure out the name of that song that you liked. Look to see what camera was used to capture the performances. Clap for the stars and laugh at the funniest names.

But certainly don’t leave.

The Author

Zach Woolf

Zach Woolf

Zach is a recent college graduate who’s love for consuming media is surpassed only by his love for creating it. He has a firm belief that if we could all just play with LEGOs for 30 minutes a day the world would be a better place. If those two statements don’t tell you everything you need to know about Zach, follow him on Twitter at @zwoolf.

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5 Comments

  1. Ingrid
    April 18, 2014 at 10:42 am — Reply

    I always (stubbornly, mind you) stay through the credits. It’s the least I can do to recognize all the people it took to put a film together, and the sheet number can be astounding. But that’s also where you can find out what locations were used, what the name of a particular song was, etc. It can be interesting to see how many effects or animation studios took part. I like to see how many obvious women’s names I see, and where. I think it’s a sign of respect to stay to the end, so I do. Much to the chagrin/annoyance of my friends at times.

  2. April 18, 2014 at 11:14 am — Reply

    So the credits transitioned from the beginning of the film to the end. Think there’ll come a time when we do away with credits all together (maybe just name the directors and major actors, or something)?

    • April 18, 2014 at 11:22 am — Reply

      No, I doubt that would every happen. The credits are more important for the people that aren’t the “stars” of the film because no one knows they worked on the film. Removing those people from the credits could remove the only thing 100% linking them to working on the project, which is incredibly important to get future work.

    • April 20, 2014 at 10:55 am — Reply

      Also, this couldn’t happen without some form of legislation change. I believe a studio can be sued if they don’t credit their cast and crew properly.

  3. April 18, 2014 at 12:06 pm — Reply

    I stay to the end of the credits on almost every movie. Not because I expect some teaser or anything. I like to see where the film is made and listen to the music. And I think it’s respectful of the movie. Now if the movie was terrible I might walk out before the credits end.

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