The name of a film can make or break it at the box office. But choosing the right name isn’t always easy. In fact, here are some of the basic rules that Hollywood studios follow when choosing movie titles:
First: The best titles tend to be short. That makes sense, because no one ever talks about a staged play called “Everybody Comes To Rick’s.” But every movie buff knows the film that play was turned into, called “Casablanca”.
Also, movie titles try to be original. In fact, once a movie makes it to theaters, its title is automatically protected for four years – to avoid confusion. As an example, you may remember an Oscar-nominated film about the struggles of an obese, pregnant teen, with an abusive mother. It was originally going to be called “Push,” after the book it’s based on, but there was already an action movie out with that name, so the studio changed the title to “Precious,” after the teen’s character.
Another rule: Studios generally don’t like movie titles with numbers. First, because when we see numbers in a title, we automatically think it must be a sequel. Also, because numbers don’t say anything about what the movie’s about! A famous example of that is the hit film about a call-girl, played by Julia Roberts. It was originally going to be called “Three-thousand Dollars”, but of course, we all know it better as “Pretty Woman”.
One more basic rule of choosing movie titles: They should be as “neutral” as possible. Meaning, you generally don’t want titles that only appeal to teens, or girls – because studios want to attract the whole family! That helps explain why Disney changed the name of an animated film based on the fairy tale “Rapunzel.” They thought that title would alienate young boys, so they went with the name “Tangled” instead.