Berg looks to credits for history lesson

'Kingdom' opens with innovative sequence

Any latecomers to Universal’s “The Kingdom” will miss one of the movie’s more innovative sequences: the opening credits.

The Universal action-thriller, which follows an FBI team investigating a terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia, begins with a summary of 80 years of U.S.-Saudi relations in 3½ minutes, all under the opening credits.

In preparation for making “The Kingdom,” helmer Peter Berg, the pic’s producers and writer Matthew Michael Carnahan viewed hundreds of hours of news and documentary footage.

Auds, too, need some of that background to understand the film, so to avoid a boring expositional scene, Berg suggested putting the exposition in the credits.

Pamela Green, head of PIC Agency, which landed the assignment, says the ensuing process was unlike anything the company had done before.

First Berg had to bring them up to speed on the research he’d done. “It was like we were Peter’s students,” says Green. “He’d say, ‘You guys do your homework?’ ”

Plus, she adds, “We never thought we’d be talking to the office of the ambassador of Saudi Arabia and the Saudi government.”

Producer Scott Stuber says putting such exposition under the credits is becoming more common, noting a similar sequence in Zack Snyder‘s “Dawn of the Dead.” “I think you’re going to see more and more of it as film evolves,” says Stuber.

The “Kingdom” sequence has turned out to be a hit with test audiences, Stuber says, and it apparently also impressed Robert Redford.

The director has tapped PIC to do the credits for another Carnahan-scripted drama about America’s interaction with the Muslim world: MGM’s “Lions for Lambs.”

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