Diagonal Billing

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Also known as "staggered" or "staggered but equal" billing. When two stars of equal prominence star in a movie together, in posters and credits billing, the two names may be staggered next to each other on the same title card — with the one on the left being lower, the one on the right being higher. This way, reading left to right gives one actor prominence, and reading top to bottom will give the other prominence. "Staggered but equal billing" serves to avoid causing tension between the two A-list lead actors over who is more important. Often, they will receive the same payment for their roles as well.

In Film Posters, another result of a billing conflict could be a Misplaced-Names Poster. If it happens when their roles aren't equally important, it could be a case of Billing Displacement.

Diagonal billing became popular when it was used in The Towering Inferno, with Paul Newman and Steve McQueen. They also received the same salary and the same number of lines (at McQueen's insistence). The idea was originally proposed when it was thought that Newman and McQueen would star in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but dropped when Robert Redford was cast instead of McQueen.


Examples:

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    Film 

    Live Action TV 

    Theatre 
  • Posters for the 1936 Broadway musical Red, Hot and Blue! placed Ethel Merman's and Jimmy Durante's names in crisscrossing bands because of a billing dispute. (When the two starred again in the 1939 flop Stars in Your Eyes, Merman was billed first.)

    Western Animation 
  • Filmation utilized an interesting variant from 1969 to 1982 in the opening and closing sequences of its shows: the word "Produced By" or "Executive Producers" would be shown with the names of two of its three co-founders Lou Scheimer and Norm Prescott revolving around it. [1]


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