• A European study by Mastercard, ‘Lights, Camera, Action’, reveals vital components of the best opening scenes ahead of the Palme d'Or prize at Cannes Film Festival 2018

  • Steven Spielberg is ‘king’ of the opening sequence

  • Generation Netflix make a decision about a film in just 14 minutes

  • Research highlights how passion for film goes beyond the opening scene and can inspire cinema lovers to “start something priceless”

It’s official: emotions rule. New research by Mastercard*, official partner of Cannes Film Festival, reveals Brits loves an action-packed start to a movie, with Europeans voting for modern classic films over today’s cinematic smash hits.

The swooping star destroyer in Star Wars Episode IV (1977) and the famous shark attack in Jaws (1975) are the nation’s joint choice for best opening scenes of all time – one in ten votes each – closely followed by the diner robbery in Pulp Fiction (1994) and D-Day landing in Saving Private Ryan (1998). Cinema lovers across Europe have voted for their top five:

  • Titanic (1997)

  • The Lion King (1994)MasterCard_Cannes-Infographic

  • Pulp Fiction (1994)

  • Star Wars IV (1977)

  • Jaws (1975)

Over 55% of respondents in Germany, Hungary, Republic of Ireland, and Sweden said that they judge a film by the starting scene.

Generation Netflix waste no time on films that don’t immediately capture their emotions. Old or new, the starting scene of a film is essential with 83% of Brits switching off a film if they don’t like it, taking just 14 minutes to decide whether the movie is worth their time.

72% of Europeans collectively agree that an incredible opening scene makes a film more memorable as a whole. And with just an average of 17 mins to convince European film fans to keep their eyes glued, it must be love at first sight for an opening scene!

Steven Spielberg creates THE perfect start to a box office hit, with one in five crowning him the master of the opening scene. Bloodthirsty Quentin Tarantino came in second as voted by 10%, followed by the chilling scenes created by Alfred Hitchcock (9%).

30% of the UK cite an amazing soundtrack as a key factor to an opening scene with Saturday Night Fever (1977) selected by 9% of those surveyed. Elton John’s rendition of ‘Circle of Life’ for the opening visuals of The Lion King (1994) hooked 7% of viewers.

Clever dialogue (26%), an unexpected twist (40%) and a romance (19%) are key factors to a box office hit across Europe; tapping into emotions and allowing viewers to engage with their own desires. Cinema fans in France are hopeless romantics with 30% loving a main character meet in the starting sequence while the Polish love a hero with swagger (25%). Quick-wit and one liners had those in Czech Republic (31%) and Russia (29%) laughing from the outset, while film followers in Germany said an unexpected ending made a movie memorable (34%).

Titanic (1997) came out floating on top across Europe; voted as having the best opening scene by Turkey, Poland, France, Czech Republic, Italy and Russia.

The ‘Lights, Camera, Action’ report investigated the power that the art of film can have on cinema fans. Movies, classic and contemporary, are inspirational Europe-wide, with 41% agreeing that a powerful movie can inspire people to start something new or make a positive change.

Jeannette Liendo, SVP Marketing Europe Mastercard said: Today, movies are not just about special effects but marrying all the different components to truly draw out an emotional reaction from the viewer. At Mastercard, we strive to become closer to consumer passions, like the art of film.  Through our new Start Something Priceless campaign we are encouraging, inspiring and empowering people across the world to pursue a passion or goal meaningful to them. This research reflects the importance of how cinema can be inspirational, with 41% of people agreeing that a powerful movie can light a fire in you to make a positive change, which is exactly what we want to encourage. Cannes Film Festival is globally renowned for championing cinema and celebrating the importance of passion points exactly like this.”


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Notes to editor:

*Research conducted on behalf of Mastercard by OnePoll

Survey of 32,000 respondents across 15 markets In Europe, 2,000 respondents from the UK

Europe’s top five movie opening scenes

  1. Titanic

  2. Lion King

  3. Pulp Fiction

  4. Star Wars IV

  5. Jaws

Europe’s top five directors (of movie opening scenes)

  1. Steven Spielberg

  2. Quentin Tarantino

  3. Alfred Hitchcock

  4. Ridley Scott

  5. George Lucas

Brits' top 10 best opening scenes

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope: The classic "In a galaxy far, far away..." followed by shot of The Star Destroyer (1977)

Jaws: A woman swims in the water and is attacked by Jaws (1975)

The Lion King: The famous Lion King song, with the sun rising and the animals of Africa collecting around Pride Rock (1994)

Saturday Night Fever: Shots of New York, then John Travolta walking with The Bee Gees playing (1977)

Saving Private Ryan: D-Day landing, with bullets flying and boats sinking (1998)

Pulp Fiction: The famous line 'Any of you p****s move, I'll kill every last m*********g one of you!' followed by the Pulp Fiction music and credits (1994)

Titanic: Slo-mo sepia of the Titanic about to depart on its' maiden voyage, followed by the sub looking at the wreck of the ship (1997)

Raiders of the Lost Ark: Paramount logo transfers onto a shot of a real-life mountain, Harrsion Ford walks into frame and faces the mountain (1981)

Up: A montage of the main character's relationship with his wife, from childhood to adulthood (2009)

The Dark Knight: Bank robbery opening scene with men in evil clown masks (2008)

About Mastercard

Mastercard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry.  We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories.  Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone.  Follow us on Twitter @MastercardNews, join the discussion on the Beyond the Transaction Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau.

Start Something Priceless

People today believe in the power of brands to effect positive social change, and that they themselves, have a duty to make the world a better place. Start Something Priceless is Mastercard’s global brand platform designed to inspire people to pursue their passion or purpose - a reminder that every day, we all have the power to create a memory, ignite a passion, make a difference, and even launch a movement.  It is intended to spark a new mindset and encourage people to take an action to create a positive impact in their lives, their communities or even the world.

About Cannes Film Festival 

The International Festival de Cannes is the most important film festival in terms of worldwide impact. 2018 marks the 71st season and the festival remains faithful to its founding purpose which is to draw attention to and raise the profile of films, with the aim of contributing to the development of cinema, boosting the film industry worldwide and celebrating cinema at an international level.

Adam Keal