The Movie Is Over When The Credits Roll

Now, I'm mad. At first, it was funny. I definitely didn't stay to the very end of the movie when I saw "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" in the theaters, but when I saw the movie at home, I saw the bonus scene at the end. The "stinger," as it's sometimes called. Roger Ebert called this the "Monk's Reward," because you need to have the patience of a monk to sit through the final credits for the payoff. But if you managed to make it through the scroll of names at the end of Ferris Bueller, Matthew Broderick appears on screen and tells the audience to go home. The movie's over. Go home.[Image credit: Lindsey Turner]

It's time to stop creating these post-credit scenes. The joke is not only played out, it's actually starting to hurt the movies. I recently wrote a column on spoilers here at SlashGear, and I focused on the horrible ending to the movie "The Grey." A commenter pointed out something I hadn't realized before. The movie ends abruptly, just before a fight that I would have expected to be the climactic moment. Imagine if Rocky had ended before the first punch was thrown against Apollo Creed. That's how it felt.

So, one thrust of my column was that some endings are so bad, it's almost better knowing about them in advance before you see the movie. But then a commenter on that column pointed out that there is a stinger scene after the credits that completely reverses my interpretation of how the film ended. Or at least it adds significant details.

This is just wrong. It's time to stop the stinger scene. From now on, the movie needs to end when the credits start to roll.

It's easy to see why movie makers would add this sort of scene. There are really two reasons. The first is that the credits are important... to the people credited. It's actually a perk of the job. Whether you are listed, and how high you appear in the list, is a badge of honor for folks working in the movie business. This is why credits are getting longer and longer. This is also why there are four or five producer credits before the movie even opens. These listings are negotiated in advance, and they are part of the job.

[aquote]Hollywood needs to get over itself[/aquote]

Hollywood needs to get over itself. I know, that's probably the most redundant line I've ever typed. But I think, for the credits, it's a real necessity, now that it's causing problems.

Can you imagine if everything had credits? In my day job, I work for Samsung Mobile. Can you imagine if you turned off your phone and then had to sit through a list of all the names of everyone who worked on a phone? There are hundreds, if not thousands of people involved.

Can you imagine if you finished a Big Mac, then had to sit through the credits of everyone who helped make the burger? Even in the art world, there are almost no parallels. Video games are the only exception I can think of. When you see a painting, you don't see a list of everyone involved. The person who stretched the canvas. The artist's assistant. Sometimes you don't even see the name of the subject. You just see the artist's name. Are movies really claiming that every boom operator, every second assistant, is an artist? Feh.

The second reason is more legitimate for the viewing audience, but no less annoying. Those extra scenes make us feel like we are "in the know." We're the cognoscenti because we were tipped to sit through a movie to the very last flicker of light.

Now, however, that is not enough. How many of you saw the secret ending for The Avengers? No, not THAT secret ending, the secret ending AFTER the secret ending.

For all of the movies that led up to The Avengers, there was a stinger scene hinting at the upcoming ensemble film. At the end of The Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor, there was an appearance by Samuel Jackson's Nick Fury, or Clark Gregg's Agent Coulson. There were whispers of an "Avenger's Initiative," so that comic fans would get hints of what was coming. Okay, I can accept that. The writers didn't want to interrupt the main story line with hints about the big blockbuster to come, so fans get the secret ending. After the first one showed up at the end of The Hulk, fans knew to stay in their seats to the end.

[aquote]The Avengers screwed with the fans[/aquote]

Then, The Avengers screwed with the fans. Sit through the credits and you get a scene with Thanos, a villain who appears to be the arch-enemy in possible sequel films. Then, the credits keep rolling. If you stayed even longer, you get a quiet little scene featuring the heroes eating shawarma. Seriously. They're eating sandwiches. It's a reference to a toss-off joke from the movie. It's kind of funny, but I completely missed it when I saw the movie in the theater, and I was peeved.

I consider that Avenger's scene to be the final flip-off for stinger scenes. It created striations of fandom. I was enough of a fan to know that something else would be coming, but not fan enough to stay even longer. Fine. Leave me out of the joke.

It has gotten to the point where I expect a stinger whenever I see a somewhat unsatisfying movie. I wonder if there will be a better resolution at the end of the credits. I wonder if the characters will be revived for a sequel that might deliver on the promise that the current film could not fulfill. Stinger scenes now act in the opposite way that they were supposed to act.

It used to be so much fun. It was Ferris telling us the movie was over. It was Animal from the Muppets telling us to go home. It was Darth Vader's heavy breathing at the end of The Phantom Menace, reminding us that we have better Star Wars movies at home on DVD.

Now, it's about exclusion. It's about poor writing and directing. It's about forcing us to pay attention to the people behind the scenes. I'm done. I just finished 44 ounces of Coke and I've been sitting for 2 hours. I'm tired of supporting this trend. When the credits start rolling, the movie is finished, and that's the only chance you get to tell me the story.