The crammed wall of text at the bottom of a movie poster is called the billing block. You probably already knew that, though. You may be less familiar with the complex labyrinth of contracts and legalese that determines what actually goes into the billing block. So if you've ever wanted to know the process behind what clutters up your favorite movie posters with a bunch of names and logos, this "op-art" piece from the New York Times explains the whole thing.
It's a year old, though we're just now discovering it (via Kotke), and wanted to share some of its more amusing tidbits:
- The billing block is determined by contracts with individual parties and also with guilds (the Writers Guild of America and so on). Its details are separate from the credits that appear in the actual film.
- The billing block is only required on posters in which the film's title appears, so image-only teasers don't require it.
- The DGA and WGA demand their members' names be at least 15% of the size of the title of the movie, and that credits like "directed by" must be no less than half the size of the member's name.
- The order of actors' names is negotiated when they join the movie.
- The crew block (costumes, editor, cinematographer, etc.) is mostly dictated by whether or not the person is a member of a corresponding guild, which is why not all posters credit the same number of crew.
- When crediting writers, writing teams are connected with an ampersand, while individuals are listed with an "and."
There's more to it than that, but those are just a few highlights. For the full, elaborate breakdown of how these credits come to be, check out Ben Schott's infographic.
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