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30 Unforgettable Movie Opening Sequences

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.

Catch Me If You Can6
The retro animated intro to Catch Me If You Can perfectly sets the scene and time period.

Se7en7
A wonderfully creepy title sequence that perfectly sets the mood for the film you’re about to watch.

Superbad8
It’s amazing how much personality can be expressed in a simple silhouette.

Charade9
There were a lot of animated opening title sequences in the 60’s – this one is my personal favorite.

Casino Royale (2006)10
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 Todd11
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.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly12
Vibrant colors, great animation and an amazing score. This title sequence has it all.

Fight Club13
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 YouTube.

The Pink Panther (1963)14
We would be remiss not to include the original Pink Panther in this list. Definitely a favorite.

Thank You For Smoking15
A very clever title sequence with the credits written on vintage cigarette packaging.

Fahrenheit 45116
In a world where the simple act of reading has been outlawed it only makes sense to have the titles read to you.

Delicatessen17
Just beautiful in all respects. A wonderful use of practical effects – they don’t make ’em like this anymore.

Alien18
A very slow paced, minimalist title sequence. The result is nothing but haunting.

Bunny Lake Is Missing19
The concept is fairly simple but it’s so well done and the final result works beautifully.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang20
Another great example of a contemporary film featuring an old school animated introduction.

Vertigo21
Vertigo features a masterfully crafted and almost hypnotic title sequence. A perfect opening to the film.

Panic Room22
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. Strangelove23
Wonderful imagery combined with the hand written text makes for a very unique and memorably title sequence.

Eurotrip24
Say what you will about the movie, this is one creative and well-executed title sequence.

Pi25
This is a great example of an amazing and original title sequence done on a shoe string budget.

North By Northwest26
A series of intersecting lines form into a skyscraper. Very cool effect, especially for the time.

American Splendor27
It only makes sense for a film about a comic book creator to have the credits in a comic book fashion.

Reservoir Dogs28
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 World29
A very funny animated sequence to kick off this comedy classic.

Halloween30
A very simple yet ominous title sequence.

Live and Let Die31
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 Psycho32
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)33
This brilliantly crafted title sequence has a lot of fun with typography and presentation.

Spiderman 234
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 Odyssey46
A very simple, yet powerful opening that perfectly sets the atmosphere for the film.

Stranger than Fiction47

To Kill A Mocking Bird48 (1962)

Kingdom49.

Further Reading Link

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

Footnotes Link

  1. 1 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/11/16/60-beautiful-music-videos/
  2. 2 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/01/21/monday-inspiration-brilliant-music-videos/
  3. 3 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/11/19/monday-inspiration-typography-in-motion/
  4. 4 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/12/29/funny-and-creative-animated-videos/
  5. 5 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0399295/
  6. 6 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0264464/
  7. 7 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114369/
  8. 8 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0829482/
  9. 9 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056923/
  10. 10 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0381061/
  11. 11 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0408236/
  12. 12 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060196/
  13. 13 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0137523/
  14. 14 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057413/
  15. 15 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0427944/
  16. 16 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060390/
  17. 17 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101700/
  18. 18 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078748/
  19. 19 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0058997/
  20. 20 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0373469/
  21. 21 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052357/
  22. 22 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0258000/
  23. 23 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057012/
  24. 24 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0356150/
  25. 25 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0138704/
  26. 26 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053125/
  27. 27 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0305206/
  28. 28 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0105236/
  29. 29 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057193/
  30. 30 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077651/
  31. 31 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070328/
  32. 32 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0144084/
  33. 33 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054215/
  34. 34 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0316654/
  35. 35 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0211915/
  36. 36 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0041959/
  37. 37 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052561/
  38. 38 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0467406/
  39. 39 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0374900/
  40. 40 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112641/
  41. 41 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097216/
  42. 42 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078346/
  43. 43 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119167/
  44. 44 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076759/
  45. 45 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0420223/
  46. 46 http://www.imdb.com/media/rm1070111232/tt0062622
  47. 47 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0420223/
  48. 48 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056592/
  49. 49 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0431197/
  50. 50 http://www.artofthetitle.com/
  51. 51 http://mmbase.submarinechannel.com/titlesequences/
  52. 52 http://abduzeedo.com/7-beautiful-title-credit-sequence-designs/
  53. 53 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Title_sequence
  54. 54 http://veerle.duoh.com/blog/comments/inspiration_series_movie_credits/
  55. 55 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/11/16/60-beautiful-music-videos/
  56. 56 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/01/21/monday-inspiration-brilliant-music-videos/
  57. 57 https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/11/19/monday-inspiration-typography-in-motion/
  58. 58 https://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.

  1. 1

    You forgot CONTACT …. Great opener.

    2
  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

    Thorsten Schmitz

    December 19, 2008 6:00 am

    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

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