Six Of The Best: What’s In A Name?

Over the years Hollywood has become littered with trivial stories of films being renamed in order to appeal to the exacting tastes of cinema goers across the globe, in a bid to help box office numbers soar rather than plummet.  This has been the case for many well regarded films over the years, most recently the action packed thriller Southern Fury starring Adrien Grenier, Nicolas Cage and John Cusack, which was released in the US under the title Arsenal, to relate to the amount of weaponry used in the film by Grenier to rescue his kidnapped brother. However due to reasons fairly obvious to football fans the name had to be changed to a title still relevant to the film, but one that won’t confuse any fans of the beautiful game. We take a look at some other films from years past that have run a similar name changing gauntlet – with varying results..

Edge of Tomorrow / All You Need Is Kill / Live. Die. Repeat
Edge of Tomorrow Tom CruiseThe Doug Liman-directed action movie, starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, in which Cruise plays a soldier with the ability to restart the day every time he dies, was long known as All You Need Is Kill, which is also the title of the book on which the movie is based. But filmmakers revised the title feeling that the original, with the word “kill,” was too problematic. The film’s title was then changed once again for the film’s release on DVD & Blu-ray release to Live. Die. Repeat, which as well as having a certain memory-grabbing urgency, also has the benefit of describing things that actually happen in the movie.

Blair Witch / The Woods
The Blair Witch Project will always hold a special place in the history of horror cinema and in the hearts of its fans, and so when Lionsgate acquired the rights to the sequel they knew that keeping the film’s status as ‘in development’ a secret until it was ready to show to the world was key. That’s why they disguised the film as a totally new and stand-alone horror film called The Woods until the film debuted to unsuspecting horror fans at Comic Con. The reaction and announcement became monumental, with the artwork outside the screening even being changed whilst the film was playing, so that “Blair Witch” was displayed loud and proud to the buzzing crowds exiting the screens.

Zootropolis / Zootopia
This title change is a bit more of a mystery than some of the others on this list, especially as Zootopia (as it’s called in the US) was hugely successful both critically and at the box office, and given the value placed by Hollywood studios on global branding and marketing. A Disney spokesperson was quoted as explaining “In the UK we decided to change the US title to Zootropolis to merely allow the film to have a unique title that works for UK audiences.” To clarify, they’re changing the title because they’re changing the title. Is that clear? But it appears a collection of children’s songs in the U.K. (no? us neither…), as well as a well-known zoo in Denmark were enough to convince studio heads that a name change was necessary, which didn’t seem to hurt its release as it pulled in a cool £25million on its theatrical release.

Pretty Woman / 3000
Julia Roberts’ breakthrough film Pretty Woman was originally called 3000 in reference to the amount of money someone would have to fork out in order to have her company for the night. The 3000 script focused much more on the dark side of prostitution, telling the story of a drug-addicted hooker who’s rescued for a week and then returned to the streets. Disney, who made and distributed the movie, reportedly thought 3000 sounded too much like a science fiction flick, so they changed it to the name of the Roy Orbison song that plays during the film’s memorable shopping montage. Pretty Woman is undoubtedly a classic film, but it seems we’ll never know how it would have looked as a much grittier drama film, instead of the heart-warming romantic comedy it soon became.

Bad Neighbours / Neighbors
2014’s Seth Rogen/Zac Efron comedy about a fraternity living next door to a married couple, was originally named Neighbors for the film’s US release. But, thanks to a certain Australian soap being rather well-known in the UK, the word ‘Bad’ was added to make sure there was no confusion. The amended title has also been used in Australia for glaringly obvious reasons. When the film was originally announced, fans were confused as to how the two loveable Hollywood stars ended up on Ramsay Street, but sadly, Neighbours: The Movie is still no way near being a thing.

Lawless / The Wettest County 
Here’s a classic issue studios have when it comes to naming their films, as they spend a lot of time adapting books which have titles which don’t make sense for mainstream cinema audiences.  This fairly modern example comes in the form of Matthew Bonduarant’s novel The Wettest County in the World, which was adapted into the Western starring Tom Hardy and Shia Labeouf and originally had the title abbreviated to The Wettest County, then changed to The Promised Land, before finally given the profoundly boring moniker: Lawless.  Although the new title might be more accessible, it relates nearly as well as its predecessor to a story about three brothers selling moonshine in Franklin County, Virginia during prohibition.

John McArthur

Editor-in-Chief at Moviescramble. A Fan of all things cinematic with a love of Film Noir, Sci-Fi and Julia Roberts in Notting Hill. He hopes to grow up some day.

Latest posts by (see all)

Leave a Reply