In some films (& televisions shows) the titles and opening credits are conveyed via packaging. In 1, 2 & 6 the packaging is used to highlight certain ethical issues about various products—(tobacco, factory-farmed foods, and munitions). Sometimes the packages which appear in the credits support some specific plot point—(as in 3, 5 and 6, for example.) And sometimes, the point is more metaphorical—(as in in 4’s cardboard cut-out world, for example.)
“…Jason Reitman, the film’s director, came to us with the idea of using cigarette package designs for the opening title sequence. He had actually created a rough sample quicktime in which he superimposed basic text titles onto images of cigarette packages that he found on the web. It captured the tone of the title sequence nicely, and gave us a great starting point. We extensively researched cigarette package design and were amazed by its sheer variety. We did start to notice, however, that certain elements were often used: the colors gold and red, bold graphic lines and shapes, and images of heraldry. There were, of course, many exceptions. But if you look broadly at cigarette package design, these elements seem to be what make a cigarette package look like a cigarette package. There's something very serious and regal about most cigarette package design.”
2. In Robert Kenner’s “Food Inc.” (title design and typography by Big Star) are made to resemble food packaging and grocery store signage.
(More opening title sequence packaging, after the fold…)
3. In Jason Reitman’s second film, Juno, the title design, is, again, by Gareth Smith of Shadowplay Studio, and again features product packaging.
This time, however it is a more singular package—a jug of Sunny D that our protagonist is drinking and which is, itself, an important plot point—(the nature of which is later revealed in the scene immediately following of the title sequence.)
4. The opening title sequence for “Brat Bratu,” —(a Slovenian sitcom, directed by Žiga Pokorn at NuFrame)— features a cardboard delivery van spilling cardboard carton out the back while traveling through a corrugated-cardboard, pop-up cityscape.
“The task was to design a visual identity and visuals for the fictional firm B&B that uses a secondhand circus van as transportation. The van was our main character in the production of the opening animation, correspondent jingles, and credits. The visual identity reflects the awkwardness of the main characters. Their world is a mixture of old-fashioned styles, used things and charming bad taste. As they are in the smuggling business we set the stage as if they are living in cluttered cardboard boxes.”
Marko Miladinović, Producer
via: The Art of the Title Sequence
5. The opening title sequence for the Canadian Comedy-Central show, House Party features a series of record album covers relating to specific characters in the show. (The video below is an promo spot, rather the actual title sequence, but does use some of the same footage.)
“We were looking for a credit sequence idea,” says Kelly Makin, one of the show’s two directors (along with John Barnard).
“The designer went out to one of the local second-hand shops and came back with all these album covers, and a lot of them were traditional Ukrainian music where the artist was from Winnipeg.
“And I said, ‘These are fantastic, we've got to use these some way.’ Then we came up with the credit idea, and it did come out of everybody going: ‘Yeah, I remember these kinds of albums. My parents still have these albums.’”
by Randall King
Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper
6. Andrew Niccol’s Lord of War featured opening credits over a CGI sequence (by L’E.S.T) showing the ‘life-cycle’ of a bullet (from the bullet’s point-of-view, no less) including manufacture, packaging, shipping and fatal deployment of product. (While packed in it’s crate the screen is dark.) Can’t find a version that will allow me to embed. So if you want to watch it, try here.
Conclusions? In some ways these examples are just part of a larger resurgent trend in “graphically
adventurous title sequences.” In art, as in life, packaging plays a bigger role than you’d guess, so it should come as no surprise when packages figure into experimental opening credits. But there’s also an underlying analogy that some have noticed between title sequences and the very idea of packaging:
To take the title sequences… out of their context within film, treating them purely as examples of moving graphics, would be to miss their point. Equally, to dismiss them as packaging, as film historians have tended to do, is to ignore both the importance of the opening sequence to the body of the film and its potential to throw analytical light on what it precedes.
Beach Packaging Design