Features and Columns · Movies

Humor, Vibes, and Teasers: When Does a Movie “End,” Exactly?

The movie /ends/ but where and when, exactly?
When Does A Movie End
By  · Published on August 1st, 2022

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that looks at something we all take for credit: where movies end.


Not to through an ontological wrench into your harmless moviegoing experience, but when does a movie end?

Common sense would dictate that a movie ends when the credits roll. The story is over once that laundry list of hard-working filmmakers starts to crawl its way down the screen, right? Well, not always. As with all things worth discussing, it’s a little messier than that.

First, let’s approach the question from a different angle. The matter of when a movie begins is also debatable. There is a long and storied tradition of filmmakers using opening title credits and even studio logos to set the mood, introduce musical and visual themes, and even get the plot rolling. The same, albeit to a lesser extent, can be said of a film’s end credits. While end credits tend to perform the pragmatic function of letting impatient moviegoers know that they are welcome to get up and leave, some closing sequences blur the line between where paratext starts and the narrative stops.

There are more obvious examples of end credits that still “count” as part of the movie: compelling graphical choices, fourth-wall-breaking stingers, blooper reels, and epilogues. And there’s also a case to be made that even the most minimalist credits — the hard proof that these people made this movie — ought to be considered as an integral part of a film, not just the green flag to rush out of a theater. As it turns out, “when does a movie end?” is really a question with multiple answers. Some of which are eloquently provided in the video essay below …

Watch “The End … or is it?”:


Who made this?

This video essay on when a movie ends, exactly, is by Mathias Korsgaard, whose scant Vimeo presence you can check out here.

More videos like this

Related Topics:

Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).