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!

You may want to take a look at the following related articles:

30 Unforgettable Title Sequences Link

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 Link

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 Link

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 Link

You may want to take a look at the following related articles:

Footnotes Link

  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 forgot CONTACT …. Great opener.

    1
  2. 2

    Agreed, Dave beat me to it. CONTACT has got to be one of the most profound, awe inspiring openings ever. Nothing else comes close in terms of true reality.

    1
  3. 3

    The very long opening to Hatari w/ John Wayne,

    Trailer: http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi3528458265/

    j.

    1
  4. 4

    http://www.galaxyspectrum.com/

    December 19, 2008 5:32 am

    A great trip down memory lane.

    Perfect for a Friday.

    Will probably spent all weekend reflecting :-)

    0
  5. 5

    Great one!

    Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is my absolute favourite…

    0
  6. 6

    What an incredible compilation – just perfect for a fiday! Thank you!

    0
  7. 7

    Lord of war is just a genious Sequence!

    0
  8. 8

    Thanks for this nice article !
    I really love the intro of Lord of War, even the music is so nicely choosen !

    P.S: the embed of Fight Club has been disabled :/

    0
  9. 9

    hey! nice article
    PS: Merry Christmas and happy New year!

    0
  10. 10

    Nice idea for creating topic… Good work!!

    i’ll go with Alien, American Psycho, Catch Me If You Can & Eurotrip… I also have few thoughts in mind & i’ll keep them for my own use.. LOL

    Thankz anyways.
    DKumar M.
    http://www.instantshift.com

    0
  11. 11

    I am a film nut, and this is an outstanding compilation. Thanks for all the hard work and effort Andrew.

    0
  12. 12

    Nice list, similar to the ones on Art of the Title Sequence, most of which are available in HD and all are much higher quality that youtube!

    0
  13. 13

    Great!

    But I’m missing the best one i’ve ever seen: 2001 – A space odyssey

    0
  14. 14

    Go to this site for more opening credits: http://www.artofthetitle.com/

    0
  15. 15
  16. 16

    On a related tangent, the closing sequences of 300 and Ratatouille are epic. Great list though! I was pleasantly surprised to see more than just recent films.

    0
  17. 17

    Dawn of the dead 2004 has a brilliant sequence too : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVnA2vZDce0

    It’s one of my favorites!

    0
  18. 18

    Forgot Lemony Snicket’s : A Series of Unfortunate Events. (probably not spelled right)

    0
  19. 19

    Good to see several from Saul Bass. He is the godfather of modern title sequences.

    0
  20. 20

    What about “To Kill A Mockingbird”? It’s a beautiful and haunting sequence that perfectly captures the wonders, and fears, of childhood.

    0
  21. 21

    Lovely list. Panic room and Thank you for smoking are my two favorite

    0
  22. 22

    Awesome post!

    0
  23. 23

    Great list! Where was Leathal Weapon 3 though… ?

    0
  24. 24

    Absolutely never a completely list without The Kingdom.

    http://www.artofthetitle.com/media/film/2007/kingdom.mov

    0
  25. 25

    Nice stuff!

    But there´s a problem with “Alien”: embedding disabled by request! :(

    0
  26. 26

    Dexter isn’t a movie but Tv series but i think it has amazing opening. Lord of war is pretty awesome.

    0
  27. 27

    Awesome selection …..!!
    I only wished i’d fing the opening scene of Kubrick’s spartacus ….!

    0
  28. 28

    One of my favorites is “Grand Prix”, a black screen with the sound of a Ferrari V12 cranking over, catching on a few cylinders, then the throttle is cracked a few times as the camera slowly pulls back and the subtle gray flecks congeal into wisps of smoke and the circular edges of the exhaust pipe slowly come into view…of course, when it came out I was building and racing formula cars, which may have influenced my perceptions!

    0
  29. 29

    If you have not seen the opening to The Kite Runner, go see it…its one of my favorites.

    0
  30. 30

    What a great way to start my Friday.

    Thanks for the post, and the blast down memory lane…..

    And the Halloween one totally deserves a spot, glad you put it up!

    0
  31. 31

    One of the most visually appealing sequences I think is for “the Kingdom”

    0
  32. 32

    Awesome! :D

    0
  33. 33

    What about The Royal Tenenbaums? Actually most of Wes Anderson’s movies have great opening sequences.

    0
  34. 34

    How isthe kite runner not on this list?

    0
  35. 35

    Certainly, Monsters Inc. deserves at least an honorable mention.

    Also, it’s “coarse” language, not “course” (American Psycho.)

    Besides that, great list.

    0
  36. 36

    Great post, however I feel that there is one opening sequence that should be listed. Stranger Than Fiction is an amazing open sequence that has to be up there with the greats.

    0
  37. 37

    Awesome! I have always been intrigued by title sequences, now I just need to go out and do some. Steve Mullen

    0
  38. 38

    No mention of Wes Andersen. Rushmore, Royal Tenenbaums, Bottle Rocket.

    0
  39. 39

    It would be nice to mention Saul Bass as the author of some, and inspiration of many of these intros. He really is the pioneer that made movie titles become what they are today.

    0
  40. 40
  41. 41

    StartBreakingfree.com

    December 19, 2008 10:07 am

    Pretty cool!

    I tend to look at title sequences for TV shows more closely. Since you usually see them over and over again there is more chances to analyze them.

    Some of my favorites: Dexter (absolutely brilliant), True Blood, and Entourage.

    0
  42. 42

    Echoing: #13

    There are other really amazing closing sequences as well, my votes go to WALL-E and A Series of Unfortunate Events. I’m sure there are many others that I can’t recall.

    0
  43. 43

    Mad Men has to be in there as a great TV show opening sequence.

    0
  44. 44

    At least two of these, Se7en and Fight Club, were done by Imaginary Forces. They’ve done a LOT of cool and memorable title sequences over the years. http://www.imaginaryforces.com/

    And there’s a lot of fine opening work in anime, too. Satoshi Kon’s Paranoia Agent has always been one of my favorites: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n8HChqhHVuU

    0
  45. 45

    101 Dalmatians–amazing sync of music and animation

    and

    La Haine–amazing!

    0
  46. 46

    I agree with Harrison, Mad Man must be in there….it’s fantastic.
    http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/Mad-man/39722686171?ref=s

    0
  47. 47

    What about Sound of Music — “much-heralded, breath-taking piece of film-making”. One of the greatest intros of all time. http://www.filmsite.org/soun.html

    0
  48. 48

    Rich Apps Consulting

    December 19, 2008 11:31 am

    Fahrenheit 451 is my favourite

    0
  49. 49

    Touch of Evil is pretty good

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Yg8MqjoFvy4

    0
  50. 50

    I am shocked Forrest Gump did not make it? The feather shot was the first thing that came to my mind! :)

    0

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