Bland movie titles: A cinematic rose by any other name
If you lived in a cinematic vacuum – free from coming-attractions trailers and blaring movie ads from newspapers, TV, internet and billboards – and you had to choose between these two movies based on titles alone, which would you queue up to buy a ticket for?
“Somewhere” or “Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Undead.”
Lately it seems our multiplexes have been filled with movies burdened by bland, boring or utterly forgettable titles.
With new movies opening fast and furious each weekend, the competition for ticket-buyers’ attention often rests with the abilities of filmmakers and marketers to brand their movies with catchy, memorable titles that will stand out, generate buzz and pique interest, curiosity or excitement (or even outrage).
Never mind the lazy tendency to simply rely on one-word titles that offer us a “brand” and little else. We’ll always have that pop-culture shorthand that pushes brand names such as “Batman,” “Superman,” “X-Men” or various comic book icons (with Roman numerals attached). At least with those, we know what we’re in for.
But what of other brand titles that don’t really denote a known brand? “Greenberg,” “Chloe,” “The Joneses,” “Harry Brown,” “Ondine,” “Cyrus,” “Tamara Drewe.” Sometimes a vague title masks a great picture. “Jerry Maguire,” for instance. But it takes a leap of faith for moviegoers to get past the uninspired moniker.
In the past year alone, we’ve seen a rash of ho-hum titles that barely inspire us to take notice. A short list: “How Do You Know,” “Let Me In,” “Life As We Know It,” “Dear John,” “You Again,” “Another Year,” “Please Give,” “Mother and Child,” “You Won’t Miss Me,” “Valentine’s Day,” “I’m Still Here,” “Remember Me” (uh, no), the current “Just Go With It” and the upcoming vaguest of the vague, “Unknown.”
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