Opening credit sequences are a part of movies that, thankfully, have evolved over time.
In the silver screen days they were something audiences had to suffer through; static text over a still frame, interminably long, crediting everyone and everything right down to the type of film used, before the audience had even had a taste of the movie to come.
The first evolution of film credits came in at the end of 'old Hollywood', in the late sixties to early seventies. Just a few of the more 'important' credits on opening (main cast, writer, director, producer etc.), the complete list of credits rolling at the end of the film. It was a move in the right direction. It avoided boring the audience before the movie had even begun.
Although there are some interesting credit sequences that you can point at throughout the seventies and eighties, the next and most important evolution of opening credits didn't come, in my opinion, until the mid-nineties with David Fincher's 'Se7en'. Fincher recruited a guy named Kyle Cooper to create the sequence. It was pretty revolutionary. Cooper's sequence set the mood of the film perfectly. It was like looking through the eyes of the demented serial killer that the Se7en's story was built around. It played more like a slick, dark, disturbing music video, with the cast and filmmaker credits throughout, in a font that looked as if it might have been carved manically with a razor blade. Add to this a seething, pumping remix of Nine Inch Nail's 'Closer' and the tone is set.
Cooper's sequence was truly game changing and often imitated, and he didn't stop there. His production company's have produced some of the most interesting and memorable title and montage sequences in film. There was the darkly apocalyptic opener for Zach Snyder's 'Dawn of the Dead' remake, and the cool intro to 'Spiderman 2' that showed the events of the first film in a stylistic, illustrated composition. His list of work is huge. Braveheart, The Mummy, Zoolander, Iron Man; even the opening sequence for AMC's 'The Walking Dead' series.
Kyle Cooper's mark on the film world is often understated, his influence overlooked. You might have never heard his name before, but its unlikely, if you love film as much as I do, that you haven't seen his work.
You can find the website for 'Prologue', Cooper's production company, here.