A Guide to Feature Film Opening Credits | Peter Bohush | NewEnglandFilm.com

By Peter Bohush

With a hundred years of moviemaking history, there must be a “standard” way of listing people in the opening credits, right? Wrong. Except for the contractual or union-mandated billing, the rest of the opening credits have no rules.

Many great movies had no opening credits, such as The Godfather and Apocalypse Now. Citizen Kane opens with only the title of the movie, saving all the credits for the end.

Most movies in the 1930s through 1950s listed lots of cast and crew in the opening credits, often in a sort of Playbill format as if the movie was a filmed stage play. Today, high-powered talent demand specific types of onscreen billing in their contracts.

Although it’s common today for blockbuster movies to open with just the title and no other front credits, it is reported that George Lucas was fined $250,000 by the Directors Guild of America for not putting the director’s name (his) in the opening credits.

Independent, non-union movies aren’t bound by union rules for opening credits, so anything goes. However, over the past two decades an order of listing cast and crew has become widely accepted by Hollywood studio and independent productions.

When the lights dim and the movie begins, the opening credits will be presented in the following manner:


This is the distributor. It may be a studio or independent distribution company. It may or may not have financed the making of the movie. But it is the company that sold the movie into theaters, television, DVD, etc. Sometimes it is listed in the same text as the rest of the credits. Or it could be a logo or even a standalone clip, such as the MGM lion roaring.


Usually a movie is produced under a business entity that finances motion pictures. It may be an independent company, a studio or a subsidiary. The director or producer’s personal production company may also have acquired the source material, such as a book or play, upon which the movie is based, and could get a production company credit here as well.

Full Article: A Guide to Feature Film Opening Credits | NewEnglandFilm.com.

Source: Peter Bohush @ NewEnglandFilm.com