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18 Unusual Opening Titles in Films – A Gift From the Filmmakers to the Viewers

Unusual Opening Titles
Attention-grabbing opening titles are the best introduction to a film! Photo: Warner Bros.

Because most opening titles are just that – titles, one that tells a story feels like a gift to the audience. It’s something the filmmakers are not obligated to put in, which makes it all the more pleasant when they do.

In a world where our attention span is ever dwindling, it is that much more important to be able to pull people into a story straight away. These are some opening titles in films that achieve this purpose with flair.

Fun & Unusual Opening Titles – A List

(In no particular order)

#1 Grease (1978)

Grease (1978) Opening Titles
Photo: Paramount Pictures

I can’t explain it, but there is something about starting off a live-action film with an animated introduction that makes me sit up and take notice. In this case, it gives us a fun introduction to the many quirky characters that we are all very familiar with in one of the world’s most beloved musicals.

#2 Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)

Some Kind of Wonderful (1987) Opening Titles
Photo: Paramount Pictures

Some Kind of Wonderful starts off with a bang as it opens onto a shot of Mary Stuart Masterson beating masterfully on her drums. As we listen to the beat of the drums, we are given short introductions of each main character. Straight away we get an insight into who they are by seeing how they choose to spend their time and with whom. Without hearing them utter a single word, we get to glimpse into the soul of each character in another product of John Hughes’ wonderful imagination.

#3 Music & Lyrics (2007)

Music and Lyrics (2007) Opening Titles
Photo: Castle Rock Entertainment

This is one of the most ridiculous opening sequences you will ever come across, but that is the beauty of it. It is shot to appear like a music video (have you ever heard a funnier song title than “Pop! goes my heart”?) made in the 1980’s. Cue big hair, wearing sunglasses indoors, chess-board backgrounds and over the top lip-syncing from Hugh Grant and Hart of Dixie’s Scott Porter. The filmmakers put as many stereotypes into this music video as they possibly could, making it a blast to watch.

#4 Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

Bridget Jones' Diary (2001) Opening Titles
Photo: Miramax

Things can’t get any worse for Bridget Jones as she sings along to All By Myself. By starting the story at the heroine’s lowest point, it instantly gets the audience invested in her future happiness. After all, things can only improve, right?

Related Post: Bridget Jones’s Baby: A Riotous Reminiscence of Romance

#5 Amélie (2001)

Amelie (2001) Opening Titles
Photo: Claudie Ossard Productions

A superhero’s story often starts with their story of origin. Whether it was being bitten by a radioactive spider or experimented on my scientists. But a hero doesn’t necessarily always have to come from the pages of a comic book. Most true heroes have lived very similarly to our own and what sets them apart from the rest are the choices they make.

Seeing Amélie’s simple childhood where she marveled at things a lot of us have also done when we were little, brings about a very strong emotional connection between the viewer and the heroine. It also shows us that each and every one of us could be just as kind and caring to other people should we choose to be. I choose to believe that there is an Amélie hidden away in all of us and change for the better is not as unattainable as we often imagine it to be.

Related Post: Classic Romantic Moment – Amélie Goes After Nino

#6 The Fall (2006)

The Fall (2006) Opening Titles
Photo: Googly Films

Great opening titles are usually a mixture of the right music and images used at just the right time. These elements are used to perfection in this opening, which hints at what the titular Fall of the main character was. Also, the right use of black and white can make a lovely contrast to an otherwise colourful film as it does here.

Related Post: The Fall (2006) – A Gorgeous and Striking Fairy Tale Starring Lee Pace

#7 You’ve Got Mail (1998)

You've got mail (1998) Opening Titles
Photo: Warner Bros.

“If only I could have a puppy, I’d call myself so very lucky. Just to have some company to share a cup of tea with me. I’d take my puppy everywhere, la la la la, I wouldn’t care …”

What a wonderfully uplifting song to the begin this magical film with! Again, there is nothing grand about this intro, but it is beautiful in its simplicity. Everything is reminiscent of the early days of computers with the connecting satellites and nostalgic sounds of typing and a modem being turned on. Then we start seeing a computer generated New York to the sound of this sweet song. It’s an intro that instantly puts a smile on one’s face.

#8 Juno (2007)

Juno (2007) Opening Titles
Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures

This film about an unplanned pregnancy and the effects of it on two young teenagers and the people around them starts off with this upbeat and partly animated opening that tells us everything we need to know about the main lead of the story. Namely, she takes things a day at a time and sees the beauty in the little things, even what others may deem mistakes.

#9 The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) Opening Titles
Photo: Touchstone Pictures

Wes Anderson (a wonderful director and screenwriter) is excellent at introducing his characters in a way that no other filmmaker does. He often has introductions of each of his characters with narrators explaining what makes them tick in his films thereby providing a look into their psyche. In addition to that, he also inserts quick shots, which manage to tell a lot about the characters in just a few seconds, during the opening titles.

#10 Look Who’s Talking (1989)

Look Who's Talking (1987) Opening titles
The all-important sperm race to the upbeat tune of I Get Around by The Beach Boys Photo: Tristar Pictures

Life is a competition, even before we are truly even aware of it! Mikey (expertly voiced by Bruce Willis) has to charge ahead of the herd in order to become a fully-fledged boy in this opening. It’s certainly an unusual way to start a family film, but also surprisingly educational. In this sweet rom-com about a little boy on a mission to find the perfect daddy to keep him and his single mother company, we get to follow his journey all the way from his conception.

#11 Three to Tango (1999)

Three to tango (1999) Opening Titles
Photo: Warner Bros.

Funnily enough, the only time there is any dancing in the entire film is during the opening titles. The phrase three to tango is used purely metaphorically as a hint at the unusual love triangle that plays out in this sweet romantic comedy that stars Dylan McDermott, Matthew Perry, and Neve Campbell.

#12 Fanfan (1993)

Fanfan (1993) Opening Titles
Photo: Gaumont

French films often have some of the best opening titles around. This one, for instance, is the best example of a push-and-pull relationship shown with only the help of a string and an excellent soundtrack.

Related Post: Dancing is Good for the Soul, the Body, and the Spirit – 15 Spontaneous Dance Scenes from Film and TV

#13 Casino Royale (2006)

Casino Royale (2006) Opening Titles
Photo: Columbia Pictures

This is a beautiful intro, complete with Eva Green, fittingly, as the Queen of Hearts. James Bond has never seemed more human to me than he did in this film. James Bond opening sequences are famous for their intricacy, but there is something particularly striking about the animations in this one.

#14 Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Kiss kiss bang bang (2005) Opening Titles
Photo: Warner Bros.

“I’m going to be an actress!”, as told by a little girl to her father has never sounded funnier as it does at the beginning of this film. A fun and mysterious scene, reminiscent of James Bond openings, sets the mood for the mistaken identities and crime-fighting comedy with a dash of romance ahead. Also, Robert Downey Jr. plays an actor learning how to act properly, which is always fun to watch!

#15 Down With Love (2003)

Fox 2000 Pictures

Foretelling the battle of the sexes ahead, this fun animated opening is all sorts of fun to watch!

Related Post: Down With Love, Maybe, But Not With Ewan McGregor’s Hotness

#16 Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)

Austin Powers (1997) Opening Titles
Photo: New Line Cinema

The opening titles of the Austin Powers films can certainly give the James Bond intros a run for their money, especially since they do their very best to make harmless fun of them. While each Austin Powers film already had some very groovy opening credits, complete with full-on dance numbers, they even managed to sneak in an additional set of opening titles in the third installment of this franchise. They made excellent use of the movie-within-a-movie trope by getting Tom Cruise to play Austin Powers, Kevin Spacey to play Dr. Evil, and Danny DeVito to play Mini-Me. As if this wasn’t hilarious enough, the entire thing is supposedly being directed by the famed Steven Spielberg with some backseat directing by Mike Myers’s Austin Powers.

Despite this third film not living up to its predecessors, it had some unforgettable cameos truly worth appreciating!

Austin Powers in Goldmember Fake Opening Titles
Photo: New Line Cinema

#17 Parent Trap (1961 & 1998)

Parent Trap 1961 Intro
Parent Trap (1961) Photo: Walt Disney Pictures
Parent Trap (1998) Intro
Parent Trap (1998) Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

Both the original and the remake of the Parent Trap are a joy to watch. The original chose to give a sneak peek into the love traps we can look forward to. However, the remake showed us the romantic wedding of the parents before things fell apart. Each opening hooked its audience in its own way.

#18 I’m a Cyborg But That’s OK (2006)

The lit-up toes signify a fully charged cyborg, or so the cyborg-wannabe thinks, anyway. Photo: CJ Entertainment

This is a hidden gem of a film that I recommend to everyone I come across. The main character believes herself to be a cyborg and this is how we are let in on her secret.

In one of the most inventive and unusual opening titles around, we are shown how her attempt to charge herself using some electrical devices gets mistaken for a suicide attempt. This subsequently has her end up in a mental hospital where this sort-of romantic comedy with a dark twist truly starts.

Related Post: A Writer, A Fan & A Ghostwriter Make for a Great Story in Chicago Typewriter

While I focused primarily on films that included love stories, there are plenty of other amazing opening titles out there. Do you have opening titles that you are particularly fond of? Let me know below and tune in next week for a list of unusual end credits!

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By on June 5th, 2017

About Yaroslavna Simdyankina

Storytelling in all formats has held Yaroslavna captive since her childhood. She cannot simply watch or read something, but has a tendency to analyse every story and scene in great detail. Human interactions, people's ability to change and improve, and the way the human psyche works has always fascinated her. Her favourite stories are those where characters go through profound changes or are so firm in their beliefs that they affect the world around them through their actions.

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5 thoughts on “18 Unusual Opening Titles in Films – A Gift From the Filmmakers to the Viewers”

    • I completely agree with you! “Up” is a great film from beginning to end. The idea was that I limit myself to scenes with opening titles only. I had to draw the line somewhere, otherwise this list would go on forever 😉

      One of the films I was going to add to this list was “A Nightmare Before Christmas”. In fact, it was one of the inspirations for this article. However, upon re-watching the opening scene it turned out that there are no opening titles there to speak of. It turns out that most of our beloved animated films only have ending credits. It’s amazing how our memories play tricks on us!

      Reply
  1. I adore the new “Parent Trap” opening! It’s so swoony and sweet; also love “Music and Lyrics” because it works really well for the film. Such a fun article, Yaroslavna. 🙂

    Reply

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