30 Unforgettable Movie Opening Sequences

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We all know that first impressions are important, right? Well, the same goes for film. The opening title sequence of a film is that film’s opportunity to make a good first impression on you, the viewer. A well-crafted title sequence introduces the audience to the tone and theme of the film as well as the cast and crew.

Mind you, not all films have the luxury of a great title sequence. Some have budgetary constraints, limiting them to a simple, yet classic, white text on black background. Hey, it’s a style that has served Woody Allen very well for many years. Others prefer to take the minimalist road and omit the titles altogether, taking us straight to the action.

In tribute to all of the wonderful title sequences in film, Smashing Magazine has collected 30 Unforgettable Title Sequences for your enjoyment and inspiration. We have chosen some of our favorite selections from all eras and genres. Of course, there are too many brilliant examples to list them all here. What are your favorites? What is missing in the list? Let us know in the comments!

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30 Unforgettable Title Sequences

Lord of War5
The visually pleasing “life of a bullet” sequence is a perfect opening for a film about an arms dealer. 720p HD version6.

Catch Me If You Can7
The retro animated intro to Catch Me If You Can perfectly sets the scene and time period.

Se7en8
A wonderfully creepy title sequence that perfectly sets the mood for the film you’re about to watch.

Superbad9
It’s amazing how much personality can be expressed in a simple silhouette.

Charade10
There were a lot of animated opening title sequences in the 60’s – this one is my personal favorite.

Casino Royale (2006)11
In an effort to re-invent the franchise the infamous James Bond title sequence was overhauled. The result was a visually pleasing intro that still pays its respects to the original.

Sweeney Todd12
A lot of Tim Burton’s films sport fantastic title sequences but Sweeney Todd’s is especially great. The creepy atmosphere and music combined with the dark imagery sets the tone very nicely. 720p HD version13,

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly14
Vibrant colors, great animation and an amazing score. This title sequence has it all.

Fight Club15
One amazing sequence starts at a microscopic level and continues to expand outward until we are looking down the barrel of a gun. Unfortunately, the embedding of the opening sequence in this post was disabled by request. You need to watch the video on YouTube16.

The Pink Panther (1963)17
We would be remiss not to include the original Pink Panther in this list. Definitely a favorite.

Thank You For Smoking18
A very clever title sequence with the credits written on vintage cigarette packaging.

Fahrenheit 45119
In a world where the simple act of reading has been outlawed it only makes sense to have the titles read to you.

Delicatessen20
Just beautiful in all respects. A wonderful use of practical effects – they don’t make ’em like this anymore.

Alien21
A very slow paced, minimalist title sequence. The result is nothing but haunting.

Bunny Lake Is Missing22
The concept is fairly simple but it’s so well done and the final result works beautifully.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang23
Another great example of a contemporary film featuring an old school animated introduction.

Vertigo24
Vertigo features a masterfully crafted and almost hypnotic title sequence. A perfect opening to the film.

Panic Room25
This is the third David Fincher movie to make this list, it seems the man can appreciate a great title sequence. This is a very basic concept yet it’s brilliantly executed.

Dr. Strangelove26
Wonderful imagery combined with the hand written text makes for a very unique and memorably title sequence.

Eurotrip27
Say what you will about the movie, this is one creative and well-executed title sequence.

Pi28
This is a great example of an amazing and original title sequence done on a shoe string budget.

North By Northwest29
A series of intersecting lines form into a skyscraper. Very cool effect, especially for the time.

American Splendor30
It only makes sense for a film about a comic book creator to have the credits in a comic book fashion.

Reservoir Dogs31
To this day every time I walk down the street in a suit and sunglasses “little green bag” inevitably pops into my head.

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World32
A very funny animated sequence to kick off this comedy classic.

Halloween33
A very simple yet ominous title sequence.

Live and Let Die34
The James Bond franchise really understood the beauty of a great title sequence. Though we only included one classic in this list, the rest are here in spirit.

American Psycho35
The credits for American Psycho play as many mind games on you as the film itself. Great attention to typography.Warning: Course Language!

Psycho (1960)36
This brilliantly crafted title sequence has a lot of fun with typography and presentation.

Spiderman 237
An amazing title sequence that pays its respects to the original source; the comic book.

Honorable Mentions

There were so many titles we wanted to include in this list but didn’t quite make the cut for one reason or another — in most cases because we just couldn’t find a video sequence in the Web or because the quality of the video was not good enough.

Readers’ Suggestions

2001: A Space Odyssey49
A very simple, yet powerful opening that perfectly sets the atmosphere for the film.

Stranger than Fiction50

To Kill A Mocking Bird51 (1962)

Kingdom52
Opening titles in HD53.

Further Reading

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Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/11/16/60-beautiful-music-videos/
  2. 2 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/01/21/monday-inspiration-brilliant-music-videos/
  3. 3 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/11/19/monday-inspiration-typography-in-motion/
  4. 4 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/12/29/funny-and-creative-animated-videos/
  5. 5 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0399295/
  6. 6 http://www.artofthetitle.com/media/film/2005/lord_of_war_720p.html?keepThis=true&TB_iframe=true&height=574&width=1290
  7. 7 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0264464/
  8. 8 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114369/
  9. 9 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0829482/
  10. 10 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056923/
  11. 11 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0381061/
  12. 12 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0408236/
  13. 13 http://www.artofthetitle.com/media/film/2007/sweeney_todd_720p.html?keepThis=true&TB_iframe=true&height=766&width=1290
  14. 14 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060196/
  15. 15 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0137523/
  16. 16 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3Gorin3ch8&eurl=http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/12/19/30-unforgettable-movie-title-sequences/
  17. 17 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057413/
  18. 18 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0427944/
  19. 19 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060390/
  20. 20 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101700/
  21. 21 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078748/
  22. 22 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058997/
  23. 23 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0373469/
  24. 24 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052357/
  25. 25 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0258000/
  26. 26 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057012/
  27. 27 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0356150/
  28. 28 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0138704/
  29. 29 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053125/
  30. 30 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0305206/
  31. 31 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0105236/
  32. 32 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057193/
  33. 33 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077651/
  34. 34 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070328/
  35. 35 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0144084/
  36. 36 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054215/
  37. 37 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0316654/
  38. 38 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0211915/
  39. 39 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041959/
  40. 40 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052561/
  41. 41 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0467406/
  42. 42 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0374900/
  43. 43 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112641/
  44. 44 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097216/
  45. 45 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078346/
  46. 46 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119167/
  47. 47 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076759/
  48. 48 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0420223/
  49. 49 http://www.imdb.com/media/rm1070111232/tt0062622
  50. 50 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0420223/
  51. 51 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056592/
  52. 52 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0431197/
  53. 53 http://www.artofthetitle.com/media/film/2007/kingdom.mov
  54. 54 http://www.artofthetitle.com/
  55. 55 http://mmbase.submarinechannel.com/titlesequences/
  56. 56 http://abduzeedo.com/7-beautiful-title-credit-sequence-designs/
  57. 57 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Title_sequence
  58. 58 http://veerle.duoh.com/blog/comments/inspiration_series_movie_credits/
  59. 59 http://www.nerve.com/CS/blogs/screengrab/archive/2008/03/06/the-twelve-greatest-opening-credits-in-movie-history-part-1.aspx
  60. 60 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/11/16/60-beautiful-music-videos/
  61. 61 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/01/21/monday-inspiration-brilliant-music-videos/
  62. 62 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/11/19/monday-inspiration-typography-in-motion/
  63. 63 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/12/29/funny-and-creative-animated-videos/

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Andrew Lindstrom is a freelance web designer, blogger and inspiration junkie. Say hi to him on Twitter or read his ramblings on his design inspiration blog at WellMedicated.com.

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  1. 1

    Don’t forget the title sequence for The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996) by Kyle Cooper. It completely outshines the movie it precedes. Check it out here.

    0
  2. 52

    se7en – Perfect to choose Trent for the opening. Definitely sets the mood.

    0
  3. 103

    Top Gun. The music with the aircraft carrier launch sequence are pretty cool – once the movie starts, not so much. Movie really didn’t ‘age’ very well – plus there are a lot of things that are just wrong. The opening is the best part.

    0
  4. 154

    Okay, maybe it’s not a film title, but therefore not less brilliant: the opening sequence of the Six Feet Under series: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YMhGIrt6B0&feature=related

    Mind the subtle allusions to the death like the crow, the fluid in the measuring beaker stopping at the number six, the tunnel with light at the end (and a person who remains in the tunnel) and the ring of the undertaker. Combine that with the fantastic music of Thomas Newman, and you get an opening sequence you look forward to every week.

    0
  5. 205

    I love title sequences! The Big Lebowski had a great one that you missed tho :(

    0
  6. 256

    For more titles, search on youtube phrase “Great Opening Titles“. I like it very title of the film “Hostage

    0
  7. 307

    “Touch of Evil” by Orson Wells should top this list. Done in one take. Check it out.

    0
  8. 358

    The short film at the beginning of the Monty Python film The meaning of life is a long time favorite.

    The Big Leboswki was good!

    Site O Rific

    0
  9. 409

    Load Of War is one of my fav movies and it has the best intro of all times. hands down

    0
  10. 460

    How about Altman’s The Player.

    0
  11. 511

    Oh! And not to mention the opening sequence for Viva La Muerte.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVGPoaGhRyE
    Awesome.

    0
  12. 562

    No “Manhattan”?!?

    0
  13. 613

    What a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing so many great title sequences, I’ve seen quite a few of them but they never get old. I just went through this whole list and watched every one! I was ecstatic to see that “Live and Let Die” and “To Kill A Mockingbird” made the list. Thanks again for sharing. :)

    0
  14. 664

    True Romance … The Sicilian movie part =)

    0
  15. 715

    Many good ones listed, but there is no better Bond intro than Goldfinger.

    0
  16. 766

    Batman (1989) has a very cool animated sequence based around a camera panning around the batman logo. Very cool score which sets the movie up perfectly.

    0
  17. 817

    Romeo + Juliet by Baz Luhrman!
    HOLY! HOW WAS THAT MISSED?!

    0
  18. 868
  19. 919

    A Series of Unfortunate Events

    Kick ass opening sequence (and closing titles!) but an … unfortunate movie.

    0
  20. 970

    The original Pink Panther… TOTAL classic.

    0
  21. 1021

    Great post! Pllease try also this one. It’s a little bit old (1968) but a real classic of french movies opening sequences: http://www.imvite.com/video/Faut-Pas-Prendre-les-Enfants-du-Bon-Dieu/t/7711427

    0
  22. 1072

    Fox sucks.

    0
  23. 1123

    How can you mention these and forget about
    “The Jackal”

    0
  24. 1174

    The Kite Runner probably has to be the best one I’ve seen this year; beautiful typography and music which work so well together.

    0
  25. 1225

    Nice collection…But have you seen the opening of Quantum of Solace?
    It is amazing!!!

    0
  26. 1276

    You have forgotten the credits of “Lemony Snicket – A Series Of Unfortunate Events”. How could you? ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTg5vGDcu6U )

    0
  27. 1327

    Stranger than Fiction for me, awesome!

    0
  28. 1378

    Honestly, the one that popped into my head when I saw this was “Apocalypse Now”, which was not mentioned.

    0
  29. 1429

    Very nice list.

    I think that Nightmare before Christmas should have made the list too, it sets the perfect tone to the entire movie.

    0
  30. 1531

    Why has Star Wars not been mentioned (particularly episode 4)?

    0
  31. 1582

    where is 300 movie ??

    0
  32. 1633

    I liked “Robinhood: Men in Tights”

    0
  33. 1684

    Magnolia! One of the most crazy stories in the opening sequence.

    0
  34. 1735

    Excellent post! I will definitely make time to go through all of these, though I’ve seen many of them already. Thank you!

    (Oh, and I second Magnolia.)

    0
  35. 1786

    I’m surprised that Strange Days is missing, if not for it’s “uncut” style (though there are a couple cuts, they’re practically invisible).

    0
  36. 1837

    thanks for good post..

    0
  37. 1888

    Great post… What about 4 weddings and a funeral…Marvellous opening

    0
  38. 1939

    How about Apocalypse Now?

    0
  39. 1990
  40. 2041

    +1 for ‘Touch of Evil’
    Impressive three and a half minutes, one take, in 1958
    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Yg8MqjoFvy4

    0
  41. 2092

    this is the lateral thing, awesome collection’s,

    0
  42. 2143

    Once Upon a Time in the West… great title sequence.

    And I love the Usual Suspects’s intro as well… simple but the music and the scenery of the water makes it great.

    0
  43. 2194

    +1 for “Touch of the Devil” This scene is so famous I don’t see how you could miss it. Oh, yes, it’s old… black and white. Time of the Pyramides

    0
  44. 2245

    The Abyss
    had the most foreboding opening of any movie I have ever seen…
    ranks up there with ‘Alien’

    0
  45. 2296

    ex-drummer is missing. unforgettable opening where time is running ackwards and the credits are on street signs, door signs, thrown away newspapers, bicycles etc.(no computer animation).

    0
  46. 2347

    it is something wrong with loading movies, they play and suddenly stop playing after two seconds…
    ff v2.0

    0
  47. 2398

    After more than 3 years of using firefox, finaly I must say FIREFOX SUCKS!!!
    I know that this is not place for that… sorry

    0
  48. 2449

    If you never look for the openening of tv series add Dexter’s!!!!!

    awesome, congrats!

    0
  49. 2500

    I had the opening scene of “Enduring Love” in mind; and, after seeing it again on Youtube I still think it should be on this list: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7svF0D7u-Es

    0
  50. 2551

    Comment number 49, Joscelyne… i agree with her about Forrest Gump. Brilliant opening to a film, while it also finishes the same way. Most of the Bond films have pretty good opening sequences. Snatch opening sequence isn’t bad!

    0

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