Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Stuff over (and after) the credits

At the beginning of the summer — when the blockbusters were still emerging from hibernation — I attended a London press screening of The Tolerable Thor! As the mighty warrior stowed his hammer and the initial credits rolled, I gathered …

Tue, Aug 23, 2011, 21:11


At the beginning of the summer — when the blockbusters were still emerging from hibernation — I attended a London press screening of The Tolerable Thor! As the mighty warrior stowed his hammer and the initial credits rolled, I gathered my things together and began making a move for the door. “Where are you going?” a colleague from another organ snapped. “There’s a post-credit sequence.” Not wanting to appear unprofessional, I dropped my bag and waited impatiently for another one of those increasingly irritating advertisements for The Avengers. You may have seen a few. Then again, you may have more important things to do with your time. What happens is that (most often) Sam Jackson emerges from a darkened room and barks orders at some actors who, one assumes, will later be donning leotards for the upcoming Marvel ensemble superhero flick. I forgot about the one after the surprisingly entertaining Captain America and, as a result, am now going through Jackson-deprivation syndrome. Perhaps I should not have received my modest fee for reviewing the film.

Like a lot of movie fans, I greatly enjoy trailers. The first sight of an anticipated release always engenders at least a tiny shudder of excitement. Some little part of the viewer, aware that it is better to travel hopefully than arrive, suspects that this is the most fun that he or she will extract from Mothra Vs The Horse People. Sitting through the end credits of a good film — something I always used to do — can offer its own class of pleasure: a chance to soak up a few more minutes of stolen atmosphere.

But this is getting ridiculous. The post-credit sequence is now considered part of the movie experience. A sliver of the alleged appeal stems, I guess, from the knowledge that, by staying, you have demonstrated you are part of some tragic in-crowd. Look at all those fools running for their buses. They’re going to miss 30 seconds of Jeremy Renner staring at Sam Jackson’s eyepatch. Amateurs! Now you can go home, log on and, in the virtual presence of similar maniacs throughout the world, discuss whether the appearance of Loki in the Thor post-credit confirms that he will appear in The Avengers.

This is not to suggest there can’t be things worth watching after the official action has ended. The best examples are from comedies. It’s worth sitting through the credits of Airplane! — at least once, anyway — to discover the taxi still waiting outside the terminus. The blooper reels from, say, Adam Sandler projects are generally funnier than the main body of the film (mind you, so is dysentery). The band’s musings on alternative lives in This is Spinal Tap are up to the high standards of the rest of that peerless movie.

But such sequences offer actual jokes. Rather than being commercials for the studio’s product, they are, in their own right, little nuggets of entertainment content. Unlike with the ridiculous Avengers plugs, we are not placidly inviting the studios to flog us upcoming product. Resist! Get out of your seat and leave.

Ah, yes. It wouldn’t be Screenwriter without a final guilty confession of hypocrisy. When I was a young twit I would always sit through the credits of James Bond movies to catch the legend that began: “James Bond will return in…”. Mind you, with no internet about the place, I was actually waiting for a genuine piece of information. It seems hard to believe now, but, even by the time the film opened, we really didn’t know which Fleming novel they were going to adapt next. More than anything though, it was an opportunity to prolong the experience and to reassure myself that it would begin again in a few years. Actually, thinking of this now, I am reminded that on one occasion the credits lied. At the close of The Spy Who Loved Me, the title read “James Bond will return in For Your Eyes Only.” He did not (or not immediately). Star Wars intervened and — launching the series second serious decline — the producers opted to make the ghastly Moonraker.

I wonder if that erroneous credit is still on the DVD version of The Spy Who Loved Me. To the internet! I have my own gang of sad maniacs with whom I need to converse.

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