Great Opening Scenes.

The opening scene to a movie can be vital in whether or not you enjoy a movie. The beginning sets the pace for the rest of the movie. It gets you thinking about whether or not this movie will be good or bad (though it’s not always faithful. Sometimes the openings can be awesome and the rest awful, or vice versa). However, there have been some pretty awesome opening scenes in cinema, and I want to discuss five of them. Keep in mind that this is not a ‘Top’ list, and I’m certainly not saying these are the best 5 opening scenes of all time… just that these are five really good ones. So let’s get started, shall we?

Léon (The Professional).

The Opening: The music slowly fades in and the camera scans across the ocean and over trees before panning up to a city. The camera shows us the streets until we reach two men in a restaurant talking business. The older of the two is talking to a man in sunglasses that the camera barely shows, drinking some milk. The man in sunglasses accepts a job offer.

We are then taken to a man walking down a hall surrounded by men. A picture of the man had just been handed to the man in sunglasses right before. The next thing we know, “somebody serious” has arrived at the hotel. The men get their guns to fight whoever this mystery man is that is coming up. They separate to look for this man and our quickly killed off one by one, stealth style. The boss man is panicked. And then he’s alone. Or is he? He decks himself out in weapons to protect himself… but it’s no use. As he backs himself into a corner of safety, trying to call the cops, he backs himself into the shadows concealing the man in the sunglasses. His hand slinks from the darkness, putting a knife around the boss man’s throat.

The man with the sunglasses gives him a phone number to dial. He’s threatened to get out of town, and he agrees. The man in the sunglasses disappears back into the shadows, first his body, then his hand with the knife, and he’s gone.

Short Thoughts: Léon’s opening scene is one of awesome suspense and just cool stealth killing. It lets the audience know just what kind of skills this man has, and it shows. Léon is not a man to be reckoned with.

X2: X-Men United.

The Opening: After the opening credits, we are shown that we are in the White House as a tour leader begins her tour. Then there’s a mystery man in a hat and sunglasses. One of the guards hears a noise and goes to inspect it. The disguised man is not where he should be. Then he grows a tail and leaps into the air, doing crazy acrobatics and teleporting around all the secret agents, kicking their butts. The secret service tries to protect the president, but all get beat up by a blue teleporting creature. Then there’s gunshots on the other side of a closed door… and silence. The door opens to emit blue smoke, and the creature is in the room, teleporting around in slow motion, knocking everybody out. He leaps onto the president and is about to kill him when he’s shot and teleports away. The camera pans to the knife in the desk next to the president, on which a note is tied: Mutant Freedom Now.

Short Thoughts: This is one of the coolest opening action sequences in a movie, especially a superhero movie. Nightcrawler is awesome, and that was one of the most perfect ways possible to begin the movie.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

The Opening: The WB logo and the movie title glide by as the Harry Potter theme plays. A shining light is seen in the cloudy distance, which turns into the sun on a smoldering and dry day. The camera pans down over a vast expanse of dry land and up through the dead grass toward a park. A family leaves the playground as Harry sits alone on a swing when his cousin Dudley and friends appear. They start arguing and Dudley taunts Harry with the nightmares Harry’s been having. Sad music plays and Harry looks sad. In a rage, Harry jumps up and points his wand at his cousin while his friends laugh. Then the sky gets dark and the wind blows faster. Dudley’s friends run off, and so do Dudley and Harry. Running down the country road as the rain begins to set in, they make their way to an underpass tunnel. Then the air turns cold and the lights begin to flicker on and off. And a large, cloaked Dementor shows up and attacks Harry. Harry tells his cousin to run, but he slips and is attacked himself. Pulling out his wand, Harry knocks the Dementor away at the last second and produces his stag Patronus, sending the Dementor away. He then throws the Patronus at the Dementor attacking his cousin, then runs over to check him… and a little old lady, Mrs. Figg, shows up and tells him not to put away his wand…

Short Thoughts: There’s a lot more to it in the book, but the movie cut it down a bit and got right to the point. The day starts off depressing and lonely, then out of nowhere these black-cloaked monsters attack, forcing Harry to use magic. It was a great opening of the book, and an even greater opening on film.


The Opening: The phone is ringing. Drew Barrymore is on screen as she answers the phone and has a back-and-forth with the mysterious caller. She thinks he has the wrong number and hangs up. The phone rings again. She answers, and it’s the same man. The man says he wants to talk, but she hangs up again. She turns on the stove and puts on some Jiffy-Pop. The phone rings again, and it’s the same man. They begin asking each other more questions. “What’s your favorite scary movie?” She walks through the house talking on the phone. The man on the phone asks if she has a boyfriend, then asks her name. She asks why, and he says he wants to know who he’s looking at. Drew Barrymore freaks out and hangs up, locking her doors.

The phone rings again. The man is getting upset with her, and she’s getting freaked out. Then he calls again and threatens to kill her. She hurries to lock all the doors, as the man on the phone keeps freaking her out, threatening her. The doorbell rings, then the phone rings again. He mocks her a few times, and she threatens that her boyfriend will beat him up. The man on the phone tells her to turn on the patio lights, and she does, seeing her boyfriend tied up. The man wants to play a game or else the boyfriend dies. She agrees. She gets the first answer right, but the second wrong. Her boyfriend is killed. The man asks her what door he’s at. She doesn’t answer, and the killer bursts through the window. Long story short, he catches up and kills her.

Short Thoughts: The reason I included this scene is because it’s so iconic, and no opening scene list would be complete without it. Drew Barrymore was on the main cast list, so she was credited with a starring role… and then she dies within the first ten minutes. It just went to show the audience that nobody was safe in the movie, no matter what their star status was. Brilliant move.

28 Weeks Later…

The Opening: Everything is quiet. A match is lit. A couple talks about what’s going to be cooked, and the man puts more logs on a fire. They look through their food stores, and he finds some good wine. They talk about their children and how they know they’re safe. The share a kiss. Then an elderly woman walks in and interrupts them. A man lays reading an old newspaper. A whole group sits down to a table to eat. A young woman saves a bowl for her boyfriend who had left a few days prior and had not come back. A man named Jacob gets into an argument with her, saying her boyfriend is already dead.

Then there’s a knocking at the door. It’s a boy. The music begins to swell. They run to the door and quickly undo all the locks. The boy is screaming. The man, Don, opens the door and a bright light erupts before the boy runs in and they close the door and re-lock it. Eating, the boy tells his short story. But the young woman now believes her boyfriend has hope and makes her way to the door to peer outside. And then Infected eyes stare right back at her and the creature busts through the door. The music starts to swell once more as the Infected begin rushing the house and bursting through the windows. The group is scattered, some rushing upstairs, some rushing to the garage. Jacob climbs a barn ladder while the old couple hold the door. Don’s wife searches for the young boy as Don searches for his wife. The old man dies, and as does the old woman. Jacob makes his escape out the upper window.

Don rushes into an upper bedroom as the Infected barge into the room. Don and his wife/the boy are on opposite sides of the room, and Don slams the door and leaves them there, climbing out a window to escape the house. He begins to run into the open field as more Infected barge into the house. His wife beats on the window and he looks back, seeing her pulled into darkness. Don runs the open field alone, being chased by the Infected. The music is almost at it’s climax as he now has at least a hundred Infected after him. He gets to a pier where Jacob is untying a boat. They leap in and start the boat, but Jacob is pulled into the water and turns into one of them. Don gets the boat started and is attacked by an Infected Jacob, and he finally kicks him off. The boats motor chops Jacob up, and Don finally sails into safety. The music comes to a peak then ends. “Oh shit,” Don repeats and continues on into the unknown.

Short Thoughts: This is one of my favorite movie openings ever. Seriously, it was brilliant. It starts off very slow and calm, then everything slowly turns to chaos. The build of the music is perfect (and I love that theme, taken from the first movie). The suspense is insanely high, and just when you think you can’t take any more… it ends and cuts to the title sequence, giving you a moment to breath.


  1. Scream: The producers originally wanted Drew to play Neve Campbell's part of Sidney, but Drew decided that it would be better for her to play Casey in the opening sequence. Yes, brillant movie and Drew's idea. Go Drew! :)

  2. I never saw 28 Weeks Later and now I probably never will. Not because you turned me off of it but your re-enactment scared the bejeezus out of me. The first one screwed me up big time and I don't know if my poor heart could handle it a second time.

    By the way, your choices for good openings is pretty darn eclectic and even though I probably wouldn't have thought of those openings to begin with, in retrospect they certainly deserve mention.

  3. What about the remake of Dawn of the Dead...that was a sick opening.

    The 6th Sense is pretty tight too.

  4. Matt: Aw, 28 Weeks Later is freakin awesome, though.

    Shea: Damn! I didn't even think about the Dawn remake, or 6th Sense. But if the list was larger, they'd certainly be on it.

  5. For me The Horse Whispering has the best opening scene. (Although, I think it is an example of an opening scene being great and the rest of the movie mediocre). Robert Redford lures you with this magical scene of two teenagers taking an early morning horse ride in the snow. The beauty and tranquility of the scene makes what happens next so shocking and heart wrenching.

    Then there is Saving Private Ryan that opens with the Normandy invasion.


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