Movie Cookies

“Go home everyone!”

I seriously can’t believe I’ve never posted about this. It’s one of the few times in life I’ve been “in on the ground floor” of something — been there enjoying it from the beginning.

It’s doubly cool for being an overlooked secret in plain view. Something like a great restaurant hidden behind a plain door down the street from the obvious places. It isn’t some great secret, these taste delights; it’s that most people walked out too soon and never saw them.

I’m talking about movie cookies (they aren’t something one eats, but they are a delight).

A movie cookie is an extra scene that usually comes at the very end of the movie’s closing credits. They are a fairly modern phenomenon with only a handful of early examples. It mostly takes off in 1980 with one of the funniest movies ever made: Airplane!

Many people, though, are more familiar with the one at the end of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), when Matthew Broderick comes out in his bathrobe and tells everyone to go home. Now Marvel movies have made them mainstream and almost expected in certain situations (certainly in Marvel movies).

A funny aspect of this (at least to me) is how Marvel moved the more important cookies — the ones with information viewers would want to know — much earlier in the credits, to make sure impatient people saw them.

Everyone is in such a hurry these days. I think modern life’s pace gets to people. We’ve forgotten how to savor.

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Older movies ran key credits at the beginning, and often ended simply with «The End» and a fade to black as the music swelled and completed.

In some cases, there would be some end credits, but nothing compared to modern end credits, some of which can run almost ten minutes.

Now everyone gets a credit, even the guy who drives the truck that empties the Porta-Potties used on location. (Look for the “Honey truck” credit.)

Do I think this is ridiculous? I do. It’s a product of the everyone is special syndrome that’s infested modern American. (If everyone is special, than no one is special. That’s how special works; it’s special.)

I think it takes something away from the people who truly put something of themselves into the film.

In the film industry, there are above-the-line artists and below-the-line artists and craftspeople. The former, actors, writers, directors, provide the creative input and define the film. The latter apply their skills under the direction of the former.

Older films tended to list the above-the-line artists and only the key below-the-line contributors. Now everyone involved in any way gets a credit. (One can just hear Oprah: “You get a credit, and you get a credit, and you get a credit…”)

As a (once upon a time) film student, I’m all for props to those who invested their talent, skill, art, or craft, to the final product. Films are a massive undertaking requiring considerable planning, coordination of moving pieces, and time-is-money execution.

I consider it almost a duty to sit and watch their names scroll by. If you had spent several months working on some small piece of a film, wouldn’t you like to know someone watched your name go by?

The reward for doing that is the occasional movie cookie.

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Truth is, I don’t understand the thinking behind the way everyone tries to immediately leave movies, concerts, and plays, the moment the main action is over. The result, invariably, is standing around in line waiting.

Getting off an airplane, same deal, and the bovine mindlessness of it stuns me. Me, I sit reading my book biding my time. Just as the last passengers are at the exit, I get up with all the elbow room in the world, stretch, get my stuff, and walk down the empty aisle, say goodbye and thank you to the flight crew, and stroll off the plane like I owned it.

[Speaking of bovine, once in the crowd milling towards the turnstile lanes at the Hollywood Bowl, I started mooing. A few people around me joined in, it spread, and for a while the crowd was amusing itself pretending to be cows. (That gets old quickly and only lasted a minute, but it was a stitch.)]

But anyway, why not sit in your theatre seat, enjoy the credits and respect the contributors, and then stroll out like you owned the place?

Sometimes you get a cookie all those other fools missed. And sometimes the cookie is really, really good. If a few rare cases, the cookie is awesome! (I’ll get back to that.)

[Of course, if everyone does starts biding their time, we’ll all be sitting there looking at each other waiting for someone to make a move. It’d be like the no, you hang up first dilemma.]

§ §

This post was inspired by an article I read recently in The Guardian. It was written by film composer, Daniel Pemberton.

It not only reminded me about movie cookies but pointed out an annoying problem with streaming services. The article is called: The end of credits: why doesn’t Netflix want us to watch them?

The title says it all. If you have a streaming service, you’ve seen the problem (although perhaps you don’t see it as a problem). These services cut short the end credits to push the next thing to view on you. That works out if you are binging a TV show, but it wrecks movie end credits.

Further, as Pemberton points out, the end credit score is designed to give you time to sit and reflect on the movie. That’s the other big reason to not jump to your feet and queue up for a cattle call exit — savor what you saw!

You’ve just been taken for a two-hour ride; now let it sink in.

§ §

A close cousin of the movie cookie is the movie outtake. The Jackie Chan movies were famous for clips of where his stunts went wrong. (Some of them involving severe injury.)

Pixar introduced the fake outtake in the end credits of A Bug’s Life (1998) and used the idea in many of their later films. (Animated characters, obviously, can’t flub their lines.)

The distinction between an outtake and a cookie is that a cookie is an intentional part of the story. An outtake is a mistake.

Comedies generally lend themselves to the meta-nature of cookies (let alone outtakes — Peter Sellers’ outtakes of cracking up during filming of Being There actually kind ruins, or at least changes, the mood of the film).

The notable exception is the Marvel movies which use them to tease future developments. (Even some of the Marvel cookies are humorous, though.)

§ §

For my money, the best cookies ever are in the seamy steamy Florida noir movie Wild Things (1998).

Noir films involve crime with an emphasis on seamy sex and betrayal. The Maltese Falcon (1941) is a classic example (and a favorite of mine). Florida noir is film noir with the addition of steamy tropical heat. The classic is probably Key Largo (1948) with Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and Edward G. Robinson.

The modern epitome of Florida noir is another favorite: Body Heat (1981), which is Kathleen Turner’s first appearance in film.

[BTW: Body Heat was written and directed by one of my favorite filmmakers, Lawrence Kasdan, who also did Grand Canyon (a Top Fave Five of mine) and Dreamcatcher, a rather interesting alien invasion monster film.]

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Anyway, Wild Things has all the humidity and sex Florida noir requires.

The plot constantly teases. Time after time it surprises with a left turn that changes what you thought you knew about what’s going on. When the movie finally ends, and you walk out ignoring the credits, you’ll have a version of what happened.

But not the right version. Several clips during the credits, once again, completely change the meaning of events in the movie. You haven’t actually seen the movie until you’ve seen those clips. (Reading the Wiki article is cheating.)

It’s truly astonishing, and it’s funny to think about all the people who missed knowing the actual story.

I suppose some might think it’s unfair, but that’ll teach ya to walk out before the proper end of the movie. I think it’s fair game!

Stay seated, my friends!

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

6 responses to “Movie Cookies

  • SelfAwarePatterns

    In a world where we have IMDB, movie credits seem increasingly obsolete. There’s an argument that all movies should be like Apocalypse Now. That’s not to say I haven’t historically enjoyed the end credits, more for the cycling through the theme music than anything else. At least Netflix allows you to keep watching the credits if you’re quick enough to select them. (Most cable channels these days don’t.)

    The end of Ferris Bueller is awesome because it gives us a reason to hang around throughout the credits, as we watch the principal go through one last humiliation on the bus. The beauty of the final Ferris scene is they knew everyone would still be there!

    The problem with hanging around through the credits is the traffic to get out is often easier if you leave immediately. Although I don’t let that stop me if I know there’s a scene in or after the credits. (That is when I bother to see a movie in the theater, which is rare. Streaming it a few months later is much more convenient.)

    On airplanes, I do something similar if I’m in the window seat. But I usually go for aisle seats, and so have people who want me out of the way so they can go. Although I refuse to stand up until just before I’ll be able to walk off.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      “In a world where we have IMDB, movie credits seem increasingly obsolete.”

      I dunno. Ingredients on food, authors on books. End credits can certainly be excessive, but I can’t agree they’re obsolete. Filmmakers see them as an important aspect of the film, a postprandial bit of reflection and music and, in some cases, fun or an extension of the story. I like how some filmmakers slip in funny credits, joke names, or references. I think it’s one of the Airplane! sequels that includes a recipe for brownies in the credits.

      I also like seeing the music credits while the score is fresh in mind. Those are usually near the end, which means seeing all the credits anyway.

      Not including any credits is an artistic choice that worked well for Apocalypse Now, but I’m not sure it works in all cases. Opening credits can be instrumental to how the story unfolds. End credits are also part of the narrative. They’re just extra tools a filmmaker has available, and seeing how some use those tools is part of the fun for me.

      “At least Netflix allows you to keep watching the credits if you’re quick enough to select them. (Most cable channels these days don’t.)”

      No, and you raise an important point I didn’t have room for in the article. Cable channels, and TV stations in general, have been hard on end credits. Often the credits are squeezed into a small window while advertising or promos play.

      So streaming platforms are better that way, since you do have the option (usually) to watch the credits, but (and this is a point Pemberton makes) you have to opt in to the credits. He mentions something I hadn’t considered: some people watch streaming with platforms that don’t have rich input devices. Sometimes finding the “no, I want to watch the credits” gesture is just enough of a pain that time runs out.

      On my TV, for example, I have to grab the remote and hit the [Back] button on some platforms (Prime, Hulu, too, I think), but cursor up to the credits window and press [Enter] on others (Netflix, I think; pressing [Back] there takes me out of the stream).

      The ideal would be a setting that fixes the desired behavior. (Even better, that recognizes the difference between a movie and TV series.)

      “The beauty of the final Ferris scene is they knew everyone would still be there!”

      In retrospect, yes, but not in 1986. Cookies hadn’t caught on at all by then. There were only a dozen or so movies that had used them so far. But Ferris Bueller is one of the movies that started training people about cookies. Word spread!

      “The problem with hanging around through the credits is the traffic to get out is often easier if you leave immediately.”

      You mean the car traffic, not the foot traffic, yeah? Even there some patience might reward. I know the logic of the early exit is to beat the crowd, but when everyone does that, it is the crowd.

      Though, to be honest, I don’t have much experience with movie traffic. For many years my buddy and I hit the cinema every Wednesday night for the latest showing of whatever we wanted to see that week. Last showing on Wednesday night, we often had the entire theater to ourselves. Or shared it with just a handful of others. Kind of like a private viewing. And no car traffic. 😀

      The alternate with a group was often the first showing Sunday morning. Very light crowd, and kind of amusing to see how full the parking lot is when you leave.

      But I stopped going to the movie theater a number of years ago. I have a big OLED TV, a decent sound system, far better snacks, and beer. Why TF would I sit on filthy seats with no elbow room, suffer the poor movie-going habits of others, and eat sugar and fat-saturated popcorn? (And don’t get me started on the bathrooms sometimes.)

      “But I usually go for aisle seats,”

      Yeah, I finally got to the point I’d had my fill of window seats. (I do love flying and do enjoy the view, but the convenience of the aisle finally over weighed the view.) If someone wants to get past, I’ll pop over to another seat if need be. The main thing for me is not standing in line. I hate that.

      Sometimes I’ve had a conversation with the person with window during the flight, and we just keep chatting until we can stroll off. (I usually indicate my preference to sit, and they usually see the sense in it.)

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        I know what you mean about fumbling with the remote while time runs out to opt in to the credits. And if you miss it and back out, it wants to start the whole thing over, making it a giant PITA to get back to the end of the movie. Definitely frustrating, particularly since I’m almost never interested in whatever they’re touting unless, as you noted, it’s the next episode.

        “In retrospect, yes, but not in 1986.”

        Right, but you didn’t have to know about that post-credit scene for that particular movie. The scene of principal Rooney getting on the bus ran through the credits and kept us glued right up to the the end. I remember getting up right when the screen finally went dark, taking like two steps, then looking back when the light from the screen indicated there was still one last thing, and the whole theater exploding in laughter afterward.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        “And if you miss it and back out, it wants to start the whole thing over,”

        Right! At that point it thinks you’ve watched it and must want to watch it again.

        That said, especially with TV series binging, I do appreciate that the system knows you’ve watched an episode if you move to the next during the credits. You don’t have to watch to the end for it to mark it as watched.

        Hulu, for a while, was awful about keeping track. It still get weird from time to time. For some reason, despite showing all episodes as watched, it thinks I have 16 unwatched episodes of Atlanta. (It’s a great show, I wouldn’t mind watching it again, but I wish I knew why it does that.)

        Angie Tribeca (another really fun show) is another one Hulu kept being weird about, thinking I had unwatched episodes — despite the individual episodes all marked as watched. Sometimes I could get it back to “All caught up” by watching the last episode.

        Also, I can’t remove Futurama from my Watch List. I keep trying, but Hulu won’t remove it. Weird. At least it shows as “All caught up”.

        “…but you didn’t have to know about that post-credit scene for that particular movie.”

        Ah, I see what you’re saying. (Been a while since I’ve seen it.) I’m sure you’re right that it was deliberate to keep people watching because it was such a new thing.

        Maybe the odd thing is that so many people didn’t learn from it or didn’t decide to start watching credits just in case. (Over the years there have been some unexpected gems!)

  • Coffeeandcream

    I always wait in the cinema to see these scenes!

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