I may be alone here, but to me it seems people would prefer to be doing anything else than watching the end credits of a film. A movie finishes and suddenly the comforting atmosphere of the darkened theatre becomes more like the running of the bulls, with people clawing and gnawing their way to the exits as quickly as possible.
To leave immediately after the body of a film concludes strikes me as mildly disrespectful to those who made it, so why are audiences so quick to flee the scene?
Up to several hundred incredibly skilled artists and technicians – who, in some cases, have been working for decades to improve their ability to entertain – put thousands of hours of work into producing a film for people to view, and while qualitatively the results are highly variable, I think even the dullest of films deserves at least a modicum of respect from those who have chosen to see it. The audience has already sat there for 100 or more minutes, what’s five or ten more to read the names of those involved?
I understand that sometimes people have things to do and people to see after a film finishes (my girlfriend absolutely must make her way to the bathroom for a post-movie bladder evacuation), which is obviously fine, but if all you’re doing after a movie is something as time-noncritical as getting a drink with friends or waiting for a train home, there’s no harm in delaying that for a couple of minutes. All you’re giving up is a small amount of your time and attention, which isn’t much in a lifetime, and I think it’s a nice thing to do.
If you worked on a film, wouldn’t you want people to stay and read your name as it slowly crawls up the screen for its eight seconds of fame?
I could list some of the reasons why credits sequences can be a lot of fun (gag credits, extra footage, outtakes, director thank-yous, etc.), but ultimately they’re irrelevant. I try to stay for the entirety of the credits – even if they are in a language I can’t read – because I believe the credits sequence is as much a part of the film as what comes before it, and a work of art should be consumed whole. Leaving during the credits is like giving a big middle finger to the people who spent all that time and effort to entertain you. “Fuck you, Mr. Malick, I know you spent years on this thing, but I cannot stand to be in this comfortable chair any longer. Away with you!”
The ultimate aim of a filmmaker, regardless of how often they assert that they only make films for personal satisfaction, is to have their work entertain, connect with, shock or otherwise affect an audience. If that’s not what they’re trying to do then they wouldn’t release films to the public, they’d take a leaf out of Prince’s book and on completion of a film file it away in a vault never to be seen by anyone else. Attempting to entertain or connect with people in the medium of cinema is a noble art form and deserves to be treated as such, and as much as I like to make fun of commercial filmmakers like Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich, they genuinely work hard to provide entertainment that people – lots of people – choose to consume. And though their films are not my cup of tea, even they deserve better than for audiences to decided that the interaction between filmmaker and audience is over as soon as that white-on-black text makes its first appearance.
I know that I’m very much fighting an uphill battle here, especially considering how disrespectful and irreverent cinema audiences have become in recent years, but I don’t see why there has to be a mad rush for the exit the second the house lights come up.
So if you tend to leave a cinema as soon as the credits begin, next time try something a little different and just chill out for a few minutes. You may end up enjoying what you see next as much as I do.
But can I please ask that if you do stay for the credits (and even if you don’t), please continue to observe regular cinema etiquette for the entire time you are in the theatre. Just because your viewing experience has concluded doesn’t mean that your group is free to loudly bicker over where to have dinner. I’m still up the back trying to hear the song.
Bonus points: name the film from which I have captured the above frame.