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What’s in a Name?

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what's in a name?

Matt Sully

Matt Sully

Long-time movie fanatic, Matt has written several screenplays, produced / directed / edited short films, and has a written a historical fiction novel entitled Father's Creed. He's working on his second novel, a sci-fi thriller called Ghost City. Follow his chronicles as a new novelist: https://mattcsully.com

We originally called the show, Should They? (with a question mark at the end). It was a question we intended to ask of every retake, as in Should They make it or should they leave it alone (a question which my brother did ask during each Movie Retakes intro until recently. For bonus points, name the episode where the intro got its updated script.)

The Should They? podcast became Movie Retakes quickly after recording the pilot episode, and I believe is a much better fit, and this renaming process is something that happens very often in Hollywood. Let’s hear about some well-known movies that were almost known by a completely different name.

Pixar’s Toy Story seems like an obvious fit now, but the title considerations were many before the animated movie was finally brought to life. Among the potential titles were To Infinity and Beyond, Moving Buddies, The Cowboy and the Spaceman, and Toyz in the Hood.

Tomorrow Never Dies was loose with the letters before finding its true bond. The original film title Tomorrow Never Lies was updated after a typo came through a fax regarding the film, and MGM liked Tomorrow Never Dies over the original name, and that’s the truth, today.

Pretty Woman was formerly known as 3000, the dollar amount Julia Roberts’ character charges for her horizontal activities.

Sci-fi movies seem more title-troubled than most. Voyage Beyond the Stars became 2001: A Space Odyssey. Hunter shifted to Predator. Ridley Scott’s Alien was entitled Star Beast. Back to the Future was briefly suggested to be Spaceman from Pluto. Tonight He Comes was changed to Will Smith’s Hancock. The book All You Need is Kill, became Edge of Tomorrow, but I’ve often seen this movie come up under its tagline name: Live, Die, Repeat. And before Blade Runner was thankfully called Blade Runner, they used the title of the novel it was based on called: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Book titles were often working titles, such as Shoeless Joe which was later named Field of Dreams, and Wiseguy, which became Goodfellas, but sometimes working titles were purposely faked. Spielberg didn’t want anything about ET leaked so he titled his script A Boy’s Life.

Sometimes the marketing department is responsible for naming changes, as was the case with Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. As you learned from our Bill and Ted episode, the movie was almost titled Bill and Ted Go to Hell.

And sometimes the screenwriter fails to provide a title, intentionally leaving the catchy names up to the studios. American Pie was submitted under the name: Teenage Sex Comedy That Can Be Made For Under $10 Million That Most Readers Will Probably Hate, But I Think You Will Love.

Poster for the movie "Alien"

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