Is this The End?

There was a time, long in the past, when the end was the end. Very occasionally a film would have a short cast list to remind you who was who, in the thirties Universal pictures would declare “A good cast is worth repeating” but there was still barely enough time to get the screen curtains across before the tail would go through the projector.

Not anymore though. End credits go on forever, pointlessly torturing those of us working in cinemas.

Some of the entries are just plain daft.  Really, who cares, apart from their mother, who drove the van to the set?

It seems the more self-important the movie, the longer the credits. War Horse goes on and on and on.

So why do I care, what difference to it make to me how long the credits are? Calm down Kev.

After a really long day when all you want to do is go home, and one person, just one, insists on sitting through every last frame you can imagine it’s a bit frustrating.

I know they’ve paid their money and entitled to see all the film, I get it.

Or, there are 200 people wedged into our small foyer, the air running out fast, waiting to go in for the next show, and one person, just one, insists on sitting through every last frame.

Quite often the problem could be eliminated by simply putting the information most people want at the start of the credits.

“We just want to see where it was filmed!” we hear endlessly, as I try not to look like I’m rushing you out. Not that credits always tell you that.

Oh no. “Digital composite department tea making facilities supplied by” is in there. No one gives a toss; they want to know where that stately home used in the second half is.

Sometimes the information is forthcoming, sometimes not. Usually we just get “filmed on location” or some such vague nonsense.

So after miles of pointless information the bit people actually want to know is not even there, idiots.

The real wind up though, is the “we just want to see if there’s something on the end”.

This ridiculous affectation of putting a short scene after the end of eight minutes of an infuriatingly slow credit crawl really makes me see the red mist.

If the scene is that bloody important, put it in the film. It’s also an act of extreme arrogance to assume the audience are still going to be sitting there. They’re not. Just that one person, just one, who insists on sitting through every last frame.

If you’re that one person, I apologise. I don’t mean to make you feel bad, the credits are there and you want to watch them. It’s the film makers that need a swift kick in the gonads for putting all that nonsense on there in the first place.

Think how many miles of film have been wasted, how much ozone we could have saved if the Harry Potter crew weren’t such narcissists.

In the UK alone with over 1000 prints, eight minutes of credits is about 60 prints worth. Could have saved yourselves a fortune on a global scale couldn’t you?

Of course now we’re digital that argument doesn’t hold water. However, we do live in a digital world which means for those sufficiently interested the distributor could supply a web page with all this tosh on it and everyone would be happy, able to read it all at their leisure, without having me rattle a bunch of keys at you.

The Lovely Bones ran 135 minutes, the actual film, with actors in it and plot and stuff finished after 118 minutes. For the love of God why? Whilst extra shows would have made no difference to that turkey, on some films if you removed seventeen minutes of credits, by the end of the day we could get another whole show in, making me and the distributor more money. Surely one of the reasons we’re here.

In fact while I’m on this rant, can we just make films generally shorter please? Be honest with yourself, when did you last see a film that couldn’t have done with some pruning?

You can tell it’s been a busy week can’t you?

Maybe I should go and lie down.

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6 thoughts on “Is this The End?

  1. Regarding customers who insist on watching the credits all the way through, you could experiment with blaming Harry Potter 2. I still smile when I think of Kenneth Branagh’s little extra and it was (sort of) better for being where it was.

    But you’re right – the excruciating detail contained in some credits makes me think less of everyone involved.

  2. Oh dear, Kevin, I’m afraid that one person you’d like to throttle, hanging on and seat-hogging is, more often than not, me. I read the credits primarily out of respect for all who’ve been involved in the film, but also for a little family joke. My husband was, in a former existence, a plasterer, and even worked in a famous British film studio. In these days of CGI, we raise a cheer if we see plasterers involved on the sets. That said, we don’t actually know any of the names. It’s just a small victory to see the traditional crafts still in use. Do we need to know every Joe Bloggs involved? Well, if Fred the Shred can grab millions (for failure, actually), then doesn’t the poor sap at the bank counter deserve a living wage? If the boss of Tesco can command millions, doesn’t the checkout girl, who’s contributed to his fortune, also deserve some credit? Thus if we laud famous directors and toothsome stars, don’t those who do the menial jobs on the set deserve mention too? I agree that the examples you cite do seem a bit absurd, but I wonder if there’s a political correctness about this. Can distributors be sued if every Tom, Dick and Harry who worked on a film doesn’t get equal billing to those at the top? I’ve not noticed any industrial tribunals yet, God forbid, but is it out of fear that nowadays everyone has to be there on the credits?

    Your idea of a website is a good one, but half the audience wouldn’t bother to read it. The cinema audience is a captive one in the sense that they’re there, even though it’s people’s decision (and choice?) to stay and read till the bitter end or rush off to get to the loo/catch a bus/dine at Luna/ get back to the telly or whatever. No doubt the overcrowding problem will be eased when your new
    foyer is achieved. If the next showing runs hot on the heels of the one I’m watching, I’ve no objection to the new audience taking their seats (that way they can read the credits twice!!) as long as the one who’s booked my seat doesn’t sit on my lap. Hmm, problems then with cleaning up the popcorn between shows.

    I agree that some films are too long, but The Artist could have gone on all night,as far as I’m concerned. Silly, yes, but some films are so good you don’t notice the time passing. If I find myself looking at my watch that means something’s not good enough. Optimum time for most films is probably 1hr 50 to 2hrs.

    Next time I’m still sitting there at 4pm, by all means rattle keys. At least I’ll be putting my coat on!

    • In reality you are, of course, welcome to sit and watch the whole film. I’m slightly building my part for entertainment purposes. However, if everyone on the film should get a credit, why shouldn’t we add our own crawl…

      Projectionist….
      Confectionery delivery….
      Carpet supplied by …..
      Seats upholstered by…..

      You get the idea.

      🙂

  3. Agreed again Kevin, very amusing as well.

    Nothing worse than thinking “oh god, I have a 10min turnaround for this film, people have turned up 40mins early expecting to be able to go straight in (are they utterly insane?) and being impatient”, and yet half the people are sitting there pretending to read the credits then take half a year to go down the steps and actually out the way ready to clean the screens ready for the next audience.

    Some people seem to think the answer is to have a longer turnaround for the film. Well, sometimes people don’t watch it all, so then we’ve got a turnaround bigger than we need. Secondly, the one I work in is loss making. If we extended the turnaround, we’d be in deeper red. We wouldn’t exist.

    Agreeing with the credits as well – its irritating that you may only have 10 people in there. They all leave instantly, yet you need to wait til the credits finish before opening up the screen. Something I’m sure yourself as a smaller business can just cope with by turning it off.

    One last thing – the ones who sit through the credits, not to watch it, but to “stay warm”, to text on their phones or so they can be cuddled up to their supposed loved ones for those extra few precious seconds longer. Thank god one of my managers likes to move them on by just stopping the credits and playing atomic kitten loudly in the screen. Poor service? They weren’t watching them anyway…

    Ahh wells, such is life!

  4. Credit Crab
    Noun
    Person who stands at the beginning of movie credits as if to leave, then shuffles sidewise, crablike, down the row of seats ever so slowly, teasing cinema staff with the act of “almost leaving, but not quite.”
    If they get to the aisle before seeing the one crucial piece of information for which they wait, the humble credit crab may begin to walk backwards toward the door, equally slowly.

  5. Pay back time.

    Yes the credits are getting too long. And yes, I have sat through them in the hope of picking up some bit of useless information which I have promptly forgotten – sorry Kev. But sometimes, for those of us who are or have been in the biz, it gets to be sort of an addiction. And it would not be the first time, even on big budget productions, that that tiny little credit comes as part or even all of some poor sap’s payment.

    Have you thought of handing out brooms and plastic sacks to the credit crabs, Kevin?

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