An important part of movie marketing is titling your movie; some names will be firmly locked in before production has even begun, whereas some will simply remain “Untitled Terrence Malick Project” until shooting has wrapped and somebody’s bothered to think about what the script actually means.
Bungle a movie title and the studio has a marketing disaster on their hands, yet a judiciously-selected movie moniker can result in box office success far in excess of what anyone could have anticipated.
These 10 movies, however, were required to change their titles either domestically or abroad for a variety of barmy reasons, ranging from the petty, to the neurotic, to the downright cynical. While the list might suggest that Americans aren’t too clever, it’s really just a case of American studios talking down to their audiences and assuming them the lowest-common denominator, which is nothing if not patently unfair. Here are 10 insane reasons movies were forced to change their titles…
10. ‘The Butler’ To Be Renamed So You Don’t Confuse It With A 1916 Comedy
Just last week, The Weinstein Company lost their legal battle against Warner Bros. over the use of the title The Butler for Lee Daniels’ upcoming drama about the White House’s long-serving black butler. The MPAA acted as arbitrators during the fight, surmising that because Warner Bros. made a comedy short in 1916 with the same name, it means that nobody else is able to make a movie with that title, which is, of course, absolutely ridiculous. The MPAA claim that they make these sorts of rulings to avoid confusion between titles, but honestly, who the f*** is going to mix-up a 2013 drama with a 1916 comedy short?
Harvey Weinstein has nevertheless amassed a cavalcade of lawyers to fight the stupid ruling, yet with the August 16th US release date edging ever closer, this really needs to be something that’s resolved soon. Presumably The Butler will have an alternate title in place in case the ruling sticks, yet shifting a whole marketing campaign this close to release is very risky indeed.
This article was first posted on July 11, 2013