Film enthusiasts: You better watch the credits

Column written by Bennett Lane

If you’re not watching the credits, you’re not getting all of the movie experience.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy is known for its long credits sequences, The Return of the King clocks in at 00:09:33. That’s an amazing nine-and-a-half minutes of unique, individual legacy.

Marvel has made cinematic history by adopting the end credits scene and employing it as incentive to audiences to sit through the credits in order to view a sneak peak at new content. It’s become an expectation and a tradition.

Audiences must have grown tired of being held hostage though, because now it’s typical to have two sets of credits. The first one quickly flashes all the highest paid contributors to the film, such as actors and producers, in a fun graphic sequence. Then follows the coveted stinger, the teaser that could just be released outside of theaters, and then the rest of the crew are rolled over in a second round of credits. No one stays for those last ones.

If the true purpose and benefit of a credit sequence had ever been known, it seems to have been forgotten with Marvel. But there is a new hope.

J.J. Abrams was asked in a press conference if Star Wars: The Force Awakens would include an end credits scene.

“No, there’s not,” Abrams said. “All the scenes are actually in the movie.”

And if you saw the movie, (SPOILER ALERT) you’ll know he wasn’t lying.

Filmmakers shouldn’t have to bribe the audience to watch the entire film. And yes, I mean the entire film. The credits are included in the runtime of a movie, so if you’ve calculated when you’ll be out of the theater you’ve already planned to stay for the credits anyways.

When you go see a play or muscial performance, you clap. It’s a form of appreciation for all the work and talent you just enjoyed. Staying for the credits is the mode of appreciation for movies. It’s a courtesy to the many who sold their time and talent for your enjoyment.

But maybe you don’t feel a debt of gratitude towards performers. The money you pay may be all the gratitude they need from you. Staying in your seat for the ending credits (even at home), if not to respect the filmmakers, will at least provide for time to think and reflect on a film.

I have found that when I stay for end credits my understanding and appreciation of the work is deepened. It provides the perfect amount of time I need to internalize the movie.

Consider this: nothing in a movie is accidental. Everything you see and hear has been manufactured to affect how you feel. Credits are included. Filmmakers may not expect everyone to stay for the end credits, but they know that some people do.

The Martian has the most impressive credits I’ve seen, and there’s nothing fantastic about the font or crawl. Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” fits on at least three levels, matching the tone perfectly.

Stay for the credits and ponder the movie; let it sink into your mind. Reflect on all the ways you know how to analyze a film. See if you can apply it to your life. Pick out a few names on the roll and identify them in your mind, then reflect on their relevance to the whole. You will have a more impactful experience.

If you wait for the car ride home, you run the risk of getting distracted. Instead of moving straight back into the world, take that time to ponder and review the movie you just gave 1/12 hours to.

The movie isn’t over until the theater staff comes in to sweep up popcorn.

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