Opening credits  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

In a motion picture, television program, or video game, the opening credits are shown at the very beginning and list the most important members of the production. They are now usually shown as text superimposed on a blank screen or static pictures, or sometimes on top of action in the show. There may or may not be accompanying music. Where opening credits are built into a separate sequence of their own, the correct term is title sequence (such as the familiar James Bond and Pink Panther title sequences).

Opening credits since the early 1980s, if present at all, identify the major actors and crew, while the closing credits list an extensive cast and production crew. Historically, however, opening credits have been the only source of crew credits and, largely, the cast, although over time the tendency to repeat the cast, and perhaps add a few players, with their roles identified (as was not always the case in the opening credits), evolved. The ascendancy of television movies after 1964 and the increasingly short "shelf-life" of films in theaters has largely contributed to the credits convention which came with television programs from the beginning, of holding the vast majority of cast and crew information for display at the end of the show.

In movies and television, the title and opening credits may be preceded by a "cold open," or brief scene, that helps to set the stage for the episode or film.

Contents

History

Up until the 1970s,it was the 1960's, and closing credits for films usually listed only a reprise of the cast members with their roles identified, or even simply just said "The End", requiring opening credits to normally contain the details. For instance, the title sequence of the 1968 film Oliver! runs for about three-and-a-half minutes, and while not listing the complete cast, does list nearly all of its technical credits at the beginning of the film, all set against a background of what appear to be, but in fact are not, authentic nineteenth century engravings of typical London life. The only credit at film's end is a listing of most of the cast, including cast members not listed at the beginning. These are set against a replay of some of the "'Consider Yourself" sequence.

Some opening credits are designed to run concurrently with a film's first sequence; in fact, this is one practice even more commonly followed today. The opening credits for the 1993 film The Fugitive continued for fifteen minutes into the film. The opening credits for the 1968 film Once Upon a Time in the West lasted for fourteen minutes. This was because they were not presented in title sequences. Instead they are intermittently superimposed over the entire opening sequences of the two films.

The first sound film to begin without any opening credits was Walt Disney's Fantasia, released in 1940. In the film's general release, a title card and the credit "Color by Technicolor" were spliced onto the beginning of the film, but otherwise there were no credits. This general release version has been the one most often seen by audiences, and the one issued on videocassette. In the roadshow version of the film, unseen by most audiences until its DVD release, the title card is seen only at the halfway point of the film, as a cue that the intermission is about to begin. The intermission was omitted in the general release version.

Orson Welles' Citizen Kane begins with only a title credit. This practice was extremely uncommon during that era.

Most Disney films between 1937 and 1981 had all the film-related information in the opening credits, while the closing just consisted of the credit "The End: A Walt Disney Production", nothing else. However, Mary Poppins was the first Disney film to have longer closing credits, in which all the principal cast members (and the characters that they played) were listed.

Most Soviet films presented all film-related information in the opening credits, rather than at the closing which consist of just a "THE END" (Template:Lang-ru, Konyets Fily-ma) title, nothing else. A typical Soviet opening credits sequence starts with a film company's logo (Mosfilm, Lenfilm, etc.), the film's title, followed by the scenarist (the Soviet Union considered the scriptwriter the principal "auteur" of its films), followed by the director, usually on separate screens, then continuing with screens showing other credits, of varying number, and finally, the film's chief administrator-in-charge, the production director (Template:Lang-ru, Direktor kartiny). Following this came the cast, usually in actor-and-role format for all principal and major featured players, and perhaps then a screen just naming, in an alphabetical cluster, some additional character players. The final credit screen identified the studio corresponding to the logo at the beginning, and the year of the film's production. It could also contain the frame with the technical information about the cinematographic film manufacturer (e.g., Svema).

This basic method was also followed in most American films from the 1930s through the late 1980s, though, obviously, in American films there was no censoring of the director's name, except in cases of blacklisting. American films also tended to list the names of the actors before the names of the directors, screenwriters, etc. Exceptions were made in the films of director Frank Capra, whose name was usually billed before the film's title. Director Victor Fleming's name was also billed before those of the actors in films such as The Wizard of Oz, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Joan of Arc. Capra, Fleming, and James Whale were three of the few directors who received the credit "A (insert director's name here) Production" even though they did not produce their films.

François Truffaut's 1966 film Fahrenheit 451' uses spoken opening credits instead of written ones to provide a taste of what life is like in a non-literate culture.

Recent trends

Many major American motion pictures have done away with opening credits, with many films, such as Van Helsing in 2004 and Batman Begins in 2005 not even displaying the film title until the closing credits begin. Francis Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979) even went so far as to not feature the title at all, except briefly as a graffiti sketch in Colonel Kurtz’ (Marlon Brando) compound. George Lucas is credited with popularizing this with his Star Wars films which display only the film's title at the start. His decision to omit opening credits in his films Star Wars (1977) and The Empire Strikes Back (1980) led him to resign from the Directors Guild of America after being fined $250,000 for not crediting the director during the opening title sequence.

Hollywood had been releasing films without opening credits (except for the film's title) for many years before Lucas came along, most notably Citizen Kane, West Side Story, and The Godfather. However, "title-only" billing became an established form for summer blockbusters in 1989, with Ghostbusters II, Lethal Weapon 2, and The Abyss following the practice. Clint Eastwood has omitted opening credits (except for the title) in every film that he has directed since approximately 1982.

Other recent films that follow the trend:

Credit only

With regard to television series, it is now an accepted practice to credit regular cast members for every episode of a season, even if they did not appear in each episode. One exception is the series Nip/Tuck, in which the appearance of all credited characters is rare. Another television series that credits all regulars for a season in every episode (regardless of whether or not they appeared) is Lost, most notably since season two, in which the complete credited cast appeared in only two episodes out of twenty-three. In Lost's fourth season, Harold Perrineau was credited for all thirteen episodes, despite only having appeared in five of them (less than some guest stars, such as Jeff Fahey). The series Charmed also began by crediting every regular cast member even if they didn't appear in the episode. The season 2 episode "Morality Bites" is the only episode in which only the three leading actresses were credited, and later the male cast members were only credited in the episodes in which they appeared. If a regular actor wasn't featured in that particular episode, the Opening Credits were edited with their images omitted and not being credited. This was especially done for series regular Dorian Gregory, who was a regular for 7 seasons but only appeared in 6-7 of a seasons 22 episodes. Heroes credited all regular cast members for every episode in its first season, but starting in season 2 the opening credits only included the cast members appearing in the episode.

Soap operas

Traditionally, actors in daytime soap operas are not credited in the episode opening sequences; this has been the case because of the escapist tone of the soap opera genre and as such, producers of soaps did not want cast members credited in the opening sequence in order to keep this intact. The drawback to this is that cast members are often identified by fans as their soap opera personas and not as themselves, as opposed to actors on other television programs who, in many cases, were identifiable by their own name.

In the 2000s, some soap operas began using an opening sequence where the actors are credited. The Young and the Restless was the first such show to credit, at least, most of the actors on contract with the series. The Bold and the Beautiful, which is produced by Bell-Phillip Television Productions (a subsidiary of Y&R producer Bell Dramatic Serial Company), began crediting all contract cast members in its opening titles in 2005, four years after The Young and the Restless implemented it. The most recent soap to include credits for all contract actors in its opening titles was General Hospital after a February 2010 revamp of its opening credits, though during the final years of its "Faces of the Heart" sequence from 2001 to 2004, the names of the main characters were shown alongside video headshots of the cast members in the opening title sequence.

Often, only the Friday episode of a daytime serial would run closing credits listing the actors. All performers from the preceding five episodes would be listed. Starting in the 2000s, complete end credits began running more frequently. Days of our Lives in particular currently credits all actors, those on contract, on recurring status and with guest starring roles on the show that week, alternating every other episode with a closing credit sequence showing the program's crew members; in either instance, either version is shown after the producer, director and writing credits.

British soaps have never credited cast members or crew members in their opening titles nor do they show video or images of the cast members. However, in recent years they have listed the writers, producers and directors over the first scene of the episode and episode titles if they apply.

Common opening credits order

While there are numerous variations most opening credits use some variation of the basic order<ref>{{

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  • (NAME OF THE STUDIO)
Name of the studio that is distributing the film and may or may not have produced it (Buena Vista, Columbia, Lions Gate, Universal, etc.).
  • (NAME OF THE PRODUCTION COMPANY)
Name of the production company that actually made the film or name of the investment groups or companies that financed a substantial part of the film (usually credited as "in association with").
  • (PRODUCER NAME) PRODUCTION or/and (director only) A FILM BY (DIRECTOR NAME)
Director's first credit, often "a film by XY or "a XY film".
  • STARRING
Principal actors, (Sometimes the stars' and director's credits will be reversed, depending on the star's deal with the studio; sometimes, as in the Rodgers and Hammerstein films, or as in all three film versions of Show Boat, or, as in many of Disney's films, the title of the film will be shown before the names of its actors).
  • (FILM'S TITLE)
Name of the film.
  • FEATURING
Featured actors.
  • CASTING or CASTING BY
Casting director.
  • MUSIC or MUSIC COMPOSED BY or ORIGINAL SCORE BY
Composer of music.
  • PRODUCTION DESIGN or PRODUCTION DESIGNER
Production designer.

As a variation some of the below may be noted:

  • SET DESIGN
  • COSTUMES or COSTUMES BY or GOWNS (older movies)
  • HAIRDRESSER
  • MAKE-UP ARTIST
  • SOUND RECORDING (older movies)
  • VISUAL EFFECTS DIRECTOR or VISUAL EFFECTS BY
  • EDITOR or EDITED BY
Editor.
  • DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Director of photography.
  • PRODUCER or PRODUCED BY, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Producers, co-producers, executive producers, 'also produced by' (credited for various reasons according to contracts and personal scrutiny of the principal producer). Often, though, the name of the producer will be the next-to-last opening credit, just before the director's name is shown.
  • BASED ON THE BOOK, (PLAY, GRAPHIC NOVEL etc.) BY or FROM A PLAY/BOOK BY (older movies)
If based on a book or other literary work.
  • BASED ON THE CHARACTERS BY or BASED ON THE CHARACTERS CREATED BY
If based on characters from a book or other media.
  • STORY or STORY BY
Person who wrote the story on which the script is based, gets "story by" credit, and the first screenplay credit, unless the script made substantial changes to the story.
  • WRITER(S) or WRITTEN BY
Screenplay writers. The Writers Guild of America allows only three writing credits on a feature film, although teams of two are credited as one, separated on the credits by an ampersand ("X & Y"). If each works independently on the script (the most common system), they are separated by an "and". If more than two persons worked on the screenplay, the credits may read something like "screenplay by X & Y and Z and W" X and Y worked as a team, but Z and W worked separately.<ref>{{
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  • DIRECTOR or DIRECTED BY
Director. The Directors Guild of America permits a film to list only one director, even when it is known that two or more worked on it. Except in very rare cases (a death in mid-production) there is only one directing credit.<ref>{{
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See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Opening credits" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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