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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 January, 2004, 17:41 GMT
Hollywood's lengthening film credits

by Michael Osborn
BBC News Online entertainment staff

Lord of the Rings
Return of the King weighs in with epic closing credits
The Lord of the Rings trilogy has reached its climax by setting a new record for having the longest closing credits in Hollywood history.

The Return of the King wraps up with an impressive nine and a half minutes of credits, listing hundreds of names.

This is in stark contrast to early films such as silent horror flick Nosferatu, which mentioned just 16 names in a mere ninety seconds.

The longer the credits creep for, the more time we have to put our coats on and leave the cinema.

But exhaustive on-screen mentions are important to every last person in the film industry.

"The power of the unions has put more and more people on the credits who wouldn't have been there before," says Patrick Fahy, credits researcher at the British Film Institute.

1922 Nosferatu - 16
1977 Star Wars - 143
1999 The Matrix - 151
2003 LOTR II - 559
2003 Matrix III - 701
Source: Baseline Hollywood

Big name stars often like their vast entourages to be mentioned - Russell Crowe boasted a 17-strong team on the credits of Master and Commander.

The Return Of The King lists oddities such as "compositing inferno artist" on its epic credits, while Mr Fahy's personal favourite is "cockroach wrangler".

While Peter Jackson's film may hold the Hollywood credits record, there may be other contenders out there.

"There is a Brazilian fantasy movie which has very long credits. This is a real culture in Brazilian cinema," explains Mr Fahy.

"On DVD, previous Lord of the Rings films have had additional credits, so they could be even longer when the Return of the King is released," he adds.

The end credits to Oscar-winning Titanic rolled for seven minutes

While a film credit name-check can be an important career boost to someone in the business, movie-goers rarely take any notice.

We are more likely to want to find out the name of a song on a movie soundtrack than to see who the second dolly grip was.

"People do not care about credits," continues the BFI's Patrick Fahy.

"Although The Return Of The King's close is accompanied by some beautiful drawings."

BBC News Online's Stephen Dowling, who reviewed The Return Of The King, said he left the cinema as the credits crept onto the screen.

"I wanted to see daylight after seeing the film. I'd been in the cinema for three hours."

Finding Nemo
Pixar animations add action to their closing credits
Viewers of Harry Potter And The Chamber of Secrets were coaxed into watching the credits roll, with the promise of an extra scene on the other side.

Animated favourites from Pixar like Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc have actually made the closing credits experience an enjoyable one.

Aquatic characters in Nemo dart in and out of the credits with amusing and entertaining results.

And A Bug's Life showed insects messing up their lines in a string of outtakes.

Opening credits

Older cinemagoers will remember credits appearing at the beginning of the film.

This trend died out because of television - when viewers could be lost to annoying opening name-checks.

Once Upon A Time In The West had a staggering 14-minute opening credit sequence in 1968 - paling the Lord of the Rings' benchmark into insigificance.

But Mr Fahy does not think Hollywood credits can roll for much longer than 10 minutes - but the "credit creep" could be here to stay.

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