COLUMN: May 10, 2012

IT IS all Matthew Broderick’s fault. He is the one who makes me do it.

I find it virtually impossible to leave a cinema before the end credits have finished rolling. This is not because I am particularly interested in the work of the American Humane Association – although I fear their evil counterparts, the American Inhumane Association.

It is because of the post-credit sting. I saw Ferris Bueller’s Day Off at the cinema and went home before the credits finished rolling.

So I missed the fairly amusing scene where Ferris, played by Matthew Broderick, tells the cinema audience to go home as the film has ended, and did not find out about it until I loaded a VHS cassette of the film into our wheezing fridge-sized video recorder 18 months later.

Since then I have watched many films right through to the end, occasionally with success. I am a gambler who gets just enough big wins to keep him going. When there is a post-credit sting, it is like finding a little more meat under the bone of the chop.

And I also have the satisfaction of being able to say, “See, I told you it was worth staying,” to whomever has accompanied me to the cinema. Admittedly, I am never sure that my companion ever believes it was worth staying, but I can’t be responsible for other people’s happiness.

But imagine the effect it has on me to know – absolutely know – that there is definitely a post-credit sting. Marvel Studios does it all the time. This year’s big film, The Avengers, came out of a Samuel L Jackson cameo at the end of the first Iron Man movie. Thor was previewed at the end of Iron Man 2.

Last Friday, I went to see The Avengers. I know in this country the film is called Marvel Avengers Assemble, but that is a terrible mouthful. I don’t know who came up with it, but it’s probably the same person who came up with “Liverpool John Moores University,” a construction of such committee-pleasing clunkiness it still sounds like a bag of gravel being emptied into a skip 20 years on.

In any case, there is no way in the world I am going to confuse it with the Steed & Mrs Peel Avengers. I work with a man called Gary. Occasionally, we will both turn around if somebody calls our name. Nobody has suggested that one of us change our name, and if one did, it would be the other Gary BECAUSE I WAS HERE FIRST.

I took a 10-year-old boy of my acquaintance, one whom I always exploit when I want an excuse to see a super-hero film. I might not read comics any more, but I have four-colour pulp in my veins.

And I was primed, because I had read there was a post-credit sting, one filmed on the night of the movie’s premiere, when all the stars were together.

“We’re not going to do that thing where we have to stay right to the end, are we?” asked the boy.

“Shh! The adverts are on,” I said, and pushed two pairs of glasses up the bridge of my nose.

We watched the film – I won’t give you a review, I am not that man who explains things to Claudia Winkleman – and then the titles started to roll, to the sound of seats folding up.

“Don’t move,” I told the boy. “Da…” he started. “Shh!” I said, as the poor dupes sitting around me filed out, trailing popcorn and bubble gum. “Wait…”

Four cleaners entered. They stood in a line and watched us. “Look, can we go?” asked the boy. “No!” I said. “I’ve shelled out for the WHOLE film. They can wait.”

And so we waited and watched a telephone directory’s worth of names roll up the screen – and I mean a directory from 15 years ago, not a modern one, as that would only take 20 seconds. The auditorium emptied. “They’re going to feel pretty silly,” I told the boy, and I folded my arms.

The credits got to the bit where it’s just symbols and logos. “Here it comes,” I said.

It turns out the post-credit sting only appears in the US.

We trudged past smirking cleaners, the boy looking at the floor and shaking his head.

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