Like most people, I hate it when cinema-goers talk through the movie, or when they use phones or generally ignore the film they’ve just paid to see, while spoiling it for everyone around them who, incidentally, have also just paid to see it. I reckon it’s fair to say that so far you agree with me, whoever you are. But there is one more thing that really annoys me about cinema-goers – something that has been exacerbated in recent years by studios and by audiences themselves. Let me explain.
FIlms used to have full credits at the beginning, with music over the top, before the story even started. When a film finished in the olden days it was with a triumphant “The End” and that was that. When a film finished in the 80s or 90s most people wiped away their tears, regained their composure, or turned to their friends and said how much they liked or disliked the film. Then, they would all file out of the cinema and carry on with their lives. Fine. But while they were doing that something else was happening on the screen, wasn’t it? The film’s runtime hadn’t yet elapsed. There were credits scrolling, telling the audience who cared who did what in the making of this movie. It annoys me so much when people ignore these credits. It seems disrespectful somehow.
Recently, films have added things into the credits as extras: little out-take sequences that play beside the list of talented men and women who made the film you just watched. This isn’t because the studio thinks the moviegoer deserves more film, but to keep people in their seats as the credits roll. Superhero movies in particular have a trick of sticking a secret scene at the very end (or sometimes mid-point) of the credits, a kind of reward for those who waited. Whether the people who wait take the time to read the credits is something to think about, but the idea is – if you stay for the credits – you get extra stuff.
However, these extras – and that’s what they are, remember: extra – have become something that cinema-goers expect nowadays. Someone on Twitter earlier complained that he’d sat through the entire credits for Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice and felt it was a “bit of a letdown” to not have a post-credit scene after he spent a good five minutes of his time waiting for one. I’d argue that, when you go to the cinema, the least you can do is hang about and appreciate the people who made the movie happen. The people listed in those credits sweated for months or even years to make the best piece of entertainment possible, pushing the boundaries of what’s achievable in film FOR YOU.
And further to that, I’d argue that the lower down the list you get, the more important it is to show appreciation to the people listed there. Everyone loves the actors, the director, the producers sometimes. People have their favourite cinematographers or special effects teams. But what about the assistants to all those people, the ones who made the tea and brought the costumes around and made sure the props were sorted and painted the sets and provided the catering so nobody went hungry, or transported those actors, directors, sets and props from place to place – sometimes across oceans! – to make the film look and feel the best it possibly could, all FOR YOU? Don’t those people deserve our time? Just five minutes of our time? Five minutes sat in a dark room, just giving their names on a list the time of day. Phil Tippett aside, of course. “Those raptors were all up in the kitchen Phil! In the kitchen!!”
Maybe I’m overreacting (I am) but I think it’s important to at least acknowledge the talent in front of and BEHIND the camera. Not just Zack Snyder, but his assistants. Not just Gal Gadot but the people who did her hair and made her costumes. Not just Batman and Superman but the team who made Batman’s car and the woman who drove Superman to the set for a year or more. Don’t these people deserve our time? The oil in the machine; the small cogs, don’t they deserve just five minutes of your time?
So next time you go to the cinema, or watch a show on TV, or even see a play please take the time to read the names of the people who made it happen. You don’t have to thank them all, or be overwhelmed with gratitude, but five minutes is all they’ve ever asked of you. They’ve even taken to bribing you with more of the thing you so ungratefully goggled at for the last two hours, just so you’d sit there and see their name. Their mothers are proud of them; when their mothers get the DVDs they SKIP the movie entirely and show their friends the credits! They pause the black screen and squint at the white text and cry “Look, there she is!” and they are so proud!
So watch the movie, laugh and cry and be transported back in time, into space, across the globe or to worlds until-then unimaginable to you. You paid for it, you deserve it. But give those credits a look too, eh? Because those people – those wonderful people – MADE that movie FOR YOU. The least you can do is stay in your seat.