Titles are hard.
Why do you think I categorize my posts with things like Hollywood Babble On & On, Cinemaniacal, or some other inanity because it's because coming with a clever, snappy, title, is hard work. So I distract you with standardized titles and numbers, and some piece of sarcasm to tell you what it's about.
Movie titles are in the news lately, especially the titles for the third Christopher Nolan Batman movie Dark Knight Rises, and just today Paramount announced the title of their next Tom Cruise spy vehicle, the grammatically enigmatic Mission: Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol.
Really: That's: Paramount's: Title: For: Their: Movie?
Well lets look at the pros and cons of each title.
DARK KNIGHT RISES PROS
1. It creates an immediate connection to Nolan's Dark Knight, which people are still talking about for it's masterful elevation of the superhero movie into the crime epic.
DARK KNIGHT RISES CONS
1. It's sparked a lot of naughty and saucy comments all over the internet, including at this very blog. Yes, I admit it, I'm weak.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 4: GHOST PROTOCOL PROS
1. The name and number reminds people that it's yet another installment of the Mission: Impossible franchise starring Tom Cruise.
2. Ghost Protocol sounds all mysterious, and possibly high tech.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 4: GHOST PROTOCOL CONS
1. The name and number reminds people that it's yet another installment of the Mission: Impossible franchise starring Tom Cruise. That franchise has been very uneven, and often disappointing, and subject to the wild ebbs and flows of Mr. Cruise's ego.
2. Ghost Protocol doesn't exactly trip off the tongue. In fact, it sounds like a rejected title from a rejected script for a James Bond movie. (Which I will get to in a second)
Like I said, coming up with good titles is a hard job. Especially in this day of sequels, franchises, reboots, remakes, and their sequels. The old days of just slapping a number onto a title just isn't enough anymore. No doubt the studio marketing people are justifying their existence by telling their masters that they need something to make each film stand apart that doesn't involve roman numerals.
Interesting enough, the first sequel that I could find to use a number in the title was Quatermass 2, the sequel to the British sci-fi classic The Quatermass Xperiment. The practice didn't catch on in Hollywood until Francis Coppola slapped "Part II" at the end of the title for his sequel to The Godfather.
Nowadays, having just a number screams repetition, no thanks to over-flogged horror sequels like the Saw franchise.
The James Bond franchise predated the number trend coming to Hollywood, but they had the great resource of Ian Fleming, whose skill as a writer was matched only by his knack for catchy, stylish titles. One of his best tricks was to take an old cliche, and tweak it into something like Live & Let Die, or You Only Live Twice.
The movie franchise has continuously dipped into the Ian Fleming title canon, stripping them off the novels, short stories, and even the name of Ian Fleming's house for Goldeneye. The times where they tried to come up with titles of their own, they got Die Another Day & License To Kill, which were more imitation Fleming and without his linguistic playfulness.
I'm sure Fleming would have been happier if all he had to do was slap a number after James Bond's name. It's a lot less work.
This is where I'd like your opinions. What do you think makes a good title?