Richard Alan Greenberg, the title designer who created the intros for classic films like “Superman,” “Alien” and “The Matrix,” died at his home in New York City on Saturday. He was 71.
The Oscar nominee has left an indelible mark on the sci-fi world, creating iconic openings for some of the most famous films in the genre and pushing further ground on the art of making opening credits. His first big work though his studio, R/Greenberg Associates, was the opening credits on “Superman” in 1978. using loud “whoosh” sounds with John Williams’ iconic theme to present the movie title, Superman’s famous insignia, and the names of stars like Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman and Christopher Reeves in bright blue letters that flashed by the screen.
Just a year later, Greenberg took the complete opposite approach with the opening to Ridley Scott’s “Alien.” Using a technique originally designed for the film’s teaser trailer, Greenberg showed the film’s title slowly being revealed by distantly-spaced letters that appear line by line as the camera pans over the cold vastness of space.
The sequence created such a sense of unease that it became a famous part of the film, with the title sequence being recreated for the latest sequel, “Alien: Covenant.”
In the following years, Greenberg worked on opening titles for films like “Dirty Dancing,” “Independence Day,” and the “Lethal Weapon” films. Meanwhile, he also worked on special effects, teaming up with legendary effects artist Stan Winston for the monster film “Predator” and earning a shared Oscar nomination for his work.
For millennials, his most famous work might be the intro to the “Matrix” trilogy; a simple but unforgettable shot of the Matrix’s “green rain” code that forms the film’s title. The green code became synonymous with the movies, being used throughout the franchise’s marketing.
Greenberg is survived by his three children: Jessica, a Pulitzer Prize nominated investigative journalist at the New York Times; Luke, co-founder of the creative agency BOND; and Morgan, chief product officer at The Whittle School.