More Than Words: How Movies Are Named

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People aren’t always sure why they are drawn to seeing a certain movie, but the title alone can have a huge impact on their decisions about what to watch. Just as readers often judge books by their covers, movie viewers subconsciously judge movies by their titles. If the name is too common, too long, or just too weird, people will often pass on the movie and see something else. So how do filmmakers go about choosing the perfect title?

There are many factors to consider when naming a movie. Importantly, the title needs to appeal to the right audience while still setting itself apart. The film “Love, Actually,” for example, clearly announces itself as a romantic comedy by the inclusion of the word ‘love.’ At the same time, the use of a comma before ‘actually’ gives the name a certain intrigue. Another example is “Apocalypse Now.” The word ‘apocalypse’ tells potential viewers that this movie is big on action, but the addition of ‘now’ makes the danger sound current and insistent. In other words, the name draws in the potential viewer. However, some movie titles don’t convey their genre well at all. “Cinderella Man” is a movie about boxing that sounds like some kind of fairy tale. It suffered at the box office as a result.

As well as clearly establishing genre, a movie title should follow some key rules. It should only be a few words long, because a long name makes people yawn and is often hard to remember. In addition, the title should be as clear as possible. If the average person requires further knowledge to understand the name, it is probably not a winner. “J.M. Barrie’s Neverland” was replaced with “Finding Neverland” for this reason; many people have never heard of author J.M. Barrie. Finally, a title is not the place to convey deep meaning; that’s for the film to do. Take “Anhedonia,” a potential title that was just confusing. Replace it with “Annie Hall,” the name the filmmakers actually went with, and suddenly the film has a certain familiar charm.

The naming process typically occurs once filming is complete so that producers and directors have a good grasp of exactly what type of movie they’re releasing. In the meantime, everyone involved in the film refers to it using what is called a working title. Every now and again, though, it happens the opposite way. “Midnight in Paris” is one example: the title came first, and Woody Allen used it as his vision when writing the script. That is one way to ensure that the film and its title are perfectly in sync.

There is quite a business in naming films today. Great movie titles are so important that expert consultants who know how to produce good names are often employed specifically to choose those vital words. After all, the process can be complicated. Aside from the appeal of the words, there are other issues to consider, such as the success of a name in online searches and the similarity of a title to new movies coming out from competitor studios. Indeed, there can be battles for certain names, and often a studio is prepared to pay big money to secure the best title.

Every now and again, there is an easy way out. Movies such as “Jane Eyre” and the “Harry Potter” franchise clearly didn’t take any effort to name, and with the rise of book adaptations and remakes, filmmakers often don’t need to consider the title at all. Sequels such as “Nanny McPhee Returns” only required the addition of one word to the original title. In times of desperation, names can be taken from other elements of the film as well. Take “Sweet Home Alabama,” a title that was taken from the major song in the film. It conveys the movie’s heart warming style well and also gives the potential viewer an idea about the setting. “Something’s Gotta Give” is another successful example of using a song name to create a memorable title. But, at the end of the day, most producers and directors aren’t so lucky. Choosing a name for most films is often a painful process.

So there it is: people are attracted to titles that are simple and unique, short and sweet. They also like to have some idea of what they’re in for before they decide to give a movie a chance. As more and more films are made, it is becoming harder to produce titles that will stand out. But as long as there are creative minds, there will continue to be great movies-with great names.

write by Azura

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