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

    You may also take a look to http://www.artofthetitle.com/

    0
  2. 102

    The title screen to Florent Emilio Siri’s Hostage should also get a mention. but great list, thanks.

    0
  3. 203

    Irreversible is missing…

    0
  4. 304

    missing the Matrix as a typographic intro.

    0
  5. 405

    The Panic room title reminds me of the floating text used in Fringe (tv series).

    As soon as I saw the title to this article though I thought, I bet they have included Eurotrip, even though the film sucks. Someone should be pretty proud of themselves for making a title sequence better than the movie itself.

    I would also mention The Incredibles ending credits. Very nice animation and style.

    @jurica:
    Upgrade to FF3. That’s a known FF2 bug that never got fixed.

    0
  6. 506

    Thanks Smashing Magazine.. i’m a sucker for these movie openings.
    Oh! Next post should be TV Shows Opening Sequences and Dexter should be at the top of the list!

    0
  7. 607

    what no Grease?

    0
  8. 708

    ey you guys, I reposted this in spanish in case you want know :D at http://www.tallerdm.com.ar/archives/203

    0
  9. 809

    Charade does not only have a great opening sequence. It is one of the greatest movies of all time!
    Scentsy Wickless Candles

    0
  10. 910

    I guess you guys have never seen Narc.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTWACLTZBYA

    1
  11. 1011

    my fav is of the “Dark Knight”. :)

    0
  12. 1112

    Forest Gump is my favorite. A wonderfully title sequence that perfectly sets the mood for the film, also with a beautiful theme song. (although the ending of the theme is a little bit overdone)

    0
  13. 1213

    great intros

    0
  14. 1314

    I enjoyed this listing

    0
  15. 1415

    Alot of them are saul bass influenced

    0
  16. 1516

    3 David Fincher <3 <3 <3 :D

    0
  17. 1617

    A couple things, first, it’s kind of freaking me out that someone with the same name said the same thing I was going to. NIN for Se7en’s intro was a perfect combination. It’s a remix of Closer if anyone was curious. It’s on “Closer To God” which is Halo 9. S
    Second, I agree you should do tv series intros and that Dexter should be at the very top. The only problem with that one is he shaves, and then has a scruffy beard upon exiting his apartment. I can forgive this due to the hours of viewing enjoyment that show has brought me.

    0
  18. 1718

    Lemony Snicket could have easily been a top 10
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CR2rkMPAF90

    0
  19. 1819

    what about the matrix trilogy :-(

    0
  20. 1920

    I was so blown away when I saw the intro for the movie Contact. Opens to white noise from the planet earth and then into utter silence in space.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNAUR7NQCLA

    0
  21. 2021

    Interesting clips. Some great sequences. I’m kind of disappointed that the openning to ‘Seconds wasn’t in there though…

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=v-VI6kxyV3w

    0
  22. 2122

    Ouch, most vids are no longer available :-(

    0
  23. 2223

    Curly Sue , sould defitnately be on here. – the beginning is reallllyyyy cute (:

    0
  24. 2324

    Some titles that I thought were excelent for openings.
    Saving Private ryan
    Good Morning Vietnam
    A Clockwork Orange
    Airplane

    0
  25. 2425

    Jihad Jimmy, Minister of War Crimes and Chief Defender of the Faith

    December 24, 2008 2:34 pm

    You’ll put something crappy like Catch Me If You Can, but no love for Full Metal Jacket?

    0
  26. 2526

    I also thought a Clockwork Orange would have been great, its my favorite movie and the opening sequence is amazing.

    0
  27. 2627

    Once Upon a Time in the West is the greatest title sequence in movie history. For shame, sinner!

    0
  28. 2728

    Definitely include the fairy tale style end credits sequence to RUNNING SCARED (2006) – one of the best I’ve ever seen, and nicely deconstructs the entire film.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVU0Pdq3svc

    0
  29. 2829

    RAISING ARIZONA

    0
  30. 2930

    Raging Bull has the finest opening credits of any film I’ve ever seen. I was very sad to not see that film on this list.

    0
  31. 3031

    Although Srgio Leone was represented (the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly), I would submit Once Apon a Time in the West for consideration.

    0
  32. 3132

    Cool list.
    Its a shame that Lady Vengeance isnt in it.

    0
  33. 3233

    Very nice list.

    One is missing, though: Le Mépris (The Contempt), JL Godard. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVgfYNJFKoo
    Unique, breathtaking while minimalistic.

    0
  34. 3334
  35. 3435

    Apocalypse Now Great Intro

    0
  36. 3536

    I know that is has already been said, and it wasn’t a super-popular movie, but “The Jackal” should really be on this list. It fits perfectly.

    0
  37. 3637

    Um, Lost in Translation, anyone?

    0
  38. 3738
  39. 3839

    umm…juno, anyone?

    0
  40. 3940

    My two favorites:
    “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”… from the opening “Anything Goes” to that roller coaster ride on the raft, the first 10 minutes of this movie give you no time to breathe.

    “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” Beautiful mountain vista leading us into the heart of the mountain with the battle between Gandalf and the Balrog as they fall miles and miles through the abyss… breath-taking.”

    0
  41. 4041

    Ed Wood would have been a good choice. Remember the names on the headstones, etc…?

    0
  42. 4142

    Kubrick’s The Shining……needs to be somewhere in this list.

    0
  43. 4243

    Swordfish is still my number 1…!

    0
  44. 4344

    Missing Swordfish, or am i the only one find this scene smashing!

    0
  45. 4445

    The Mallrats intro is inexplicably absent from this list! Hehehe…

    0
  46. 4546

    yes, is missing one of the most beautiful ! : Le Mépris, JL Godard (the contempt)

    0
  47. 4647

    how can superbad make it into that batch?

    0
  48. 4748

    SLC Punk should be included on this list. The posters and song fit the film and the punk ethos perfectly.

    0
  49. 4849

    Wow! What a great collection. I was so lucky to stumble on it. The life of a bullet alone is worth millions! Have you looked at the opening of Heavenly Creatures? It’s interesting but I am not sure it is in the same league as these others. Thanks for the efforts!

    0
  50. 4950

    I’m so glad Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho was in there, it’s more than just a title sequence. There is a lot of meaning that is portrayed by the contrasting black and white to the contrasting and double sided elements of the film.

    A great writer and director.

    Adam.

    0

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