Types of Post-Credit Scenes
WARNING: This article may contain spoilers. Reader discretion is advised.
Ever since I saw my first post-credit screen, I’ve loved the idea. Let’s face it — people don’t stick around for credits. There’s no need to. To sit through the lists and lists of names of people scrolling on a big screen isn’t logical unless (a) you actually do know someone who worked on the film, (b) you’re waiting for the theatre crowd to empty before you can leave, or (c) you’re looking for the name of that guy that you recognize from that other movie. In any case, sticking scenes at the end of the credits is, to me, a brilliant idea. It gets the people sitting through the credits (sometimes giving people the recognition they deserve) and provides a reward to the patient viewer. From my experiences, these post-credit scenes seem to fall into a number of categories. If you’re looking to give the audiences a little something extra, the post-credit scene (or “credit cookie” as I’ve heard it called) is the best way to do it.
They’re fun, they make us laugh, and we leave the theater with a smile on our face. The schwarma scene at the end of The Avengers, the final scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, these are perfect examples of a fun little bit done right. Even the small post-credit scene at the end of Finding Nemo was good for a laugh (and you haven’t sat through credits until you’ve sat through Pixar credits, let me tell you!).
The Pirates of the Caribbean movies were very good at this. I remember my first in-theater post-credit scene being from The Curse of the Black Pearl, and I remember thinking how great it was, and how good it was at reminding me of something I’d forgotten about: what happened to the monkey? In the second film, what happened to the dog? The post-credit scene at the end of each film either tackled something that I’d forgotten about, or addressed something in the film that left me wondering.
Although I’ve only seen this done once, I thought it was brilliant and might become one of the new reasons to use post-credit scenes. The filmmakers of the imaginative and quirky film Coraline had a contest on the film’s website where you could win prizes. But in order to do that, you had to enter the secret code. And guess where viewers could find that secret code? You got it: in the post-credit scene at the end of the film. Am I the only person who thinks this is a great and inventive idea?
This is probably one of the greatest and most ingenious ways to use post-credit scenes. Let’s face it, the trailers at the front of a movie are good, but if you want to advertise or hint at the best next movie in a franchise, what better way to do it than a little spoiler scene at the end of the film? To my knowledge, this hadn’t been done at all until the Marvel films came along. At the end of the first Iron Man, you have Samuel L. Jackson’s character Nick Fury show up to talk about the Avengers. Leaving the theater, you’re not only excited from the amazing Iron Man movie, you’re already getting set for the possibility of an Avengers movie happening!
Then, at the end of Iron Man 2, you’re treated to a sneak peek of Marvel’s next film, Thor. At the end of Thor, you’re given a glimpse into what could be a part of the conflict for The Avengers. And finally, at the end of Captain America, you’re given a special sneak peek of The Avengers itself.
The first mention of The Avengers after Iron Man was in 2008, when the film was released. With all that buildup and all those tie-ins, are we really surprised at how well The Avengers did four years later in 2012?
Look at it this way: the people who are coming to see Thor, Captain America, Iron Man… they’re most likely going to be your same audience for The Avengers. To put in post-credit scenes is almost like private sneak peek just for them. It’s brilliant advertising and marketing at its finest.
So that’s it! Whether you’re looking to advertise your next film, leave your audience with a laugh or simply give them something to think about on the way to their cars, post-credit scenes are slowly becoming a newer and popular way to connect with real movie audiences. But make it brief: the theater still needs to be cleaned in time for the next show.
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