10 great films that were hindered by terrible names (pt. 2)

  • 10 great films that were hindered by terrible names (pt. 2)

As we have seen before, even with the best film in your possession, if you give it a vague, wordy or misleading title, then not many people are going to take a punt to spend their money on a viewing.

Here are another ten films, that despite being high-quality movies, have seen their titles not helping them to success (although some managed regardless).

10. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Few film fans would argue that the drama of Andy Dufresne, Red and the rest of the inmates and guards of Shawshank State Penitentiary is one of the greatest

However, on its release in 1994, the adaptation of a Stephen King story didn't attract the crowds expected of such a masterpiece, mostly because it went up against Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction on its release weekend.

Morgan Freeman has since stated that he believes the initial failure of the adaptation of the Stephen King novella, originally titled Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, was down to the story's name being shortened.

"They said it won’t fit on the marquee," Freeman said of the novella's unwieldy title, "I said, ‘So what? Just put Rita Hayworth ...’ but they chose not to, so it took a while to catch on."

Despite the vague and unusual name, the film did eventually get the appreciation of film lovers, and now boasts the highest rating of any film on IMDb.

9. Sexy Beast (2000)

Ray Winstone plays a unhealthily-tanned former safe cracker living out a post-crime retirement in a Spanish villa, when his tranquillity is shattered by a sociopathic former associate played by Ben Kingsley, who convinces him into returning to London for one last bank heist.

Ben Kingsley was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance as the unhinged, foul-mouthed Don Logan, and the British film was heralded by fans and critics across the board.

Despite this, the name Sexy Beast doesn't describe either of the two main characters, as it sounds more like a romantic thriller than the slow-paced, violent gangster thriller that it is.

8. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

The 'Revisionist Western' (which means 'less clearly defined heroes and villains' than the classic Spaghetti Westerns) which tells the story of the demise of famous outlaw Jesse James at the hands of a young member of his gang.

The Oscar-nominated film was a masterful character study, which boasted stunning visuals and incredible performances and appeared on many critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2007.

Unfortunately, the film's unwieldy title, which (despite an interesting interpretation by The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw in his review) hampered it going down as an all-time classic.

However, one fan of the title was Brad Pitt, who starred as Jesse James, and according to director Andrew Dominik, had it written into his contract that the movie's name could not be changed - so it's all on his shoulders.

7. [REC] (2007)

The Spanish found footage zombie horror film, which sees a TV reporter and her cameraman sealed inside a zombie-infected apartment complex, drew great acclaim from horror fans across the globe and enjoys a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Praised for an effective and terrifying use of the found footage style, as well as shocks, jumps and nerve-jangling moments, it also earned itself a sub-par American remake.

While the film was a runaway success, it's name - which may have helped when marketing across the globe - hindered the word-of-mouth recommendations when you had to explain it's not 'Wreck' but 'y'know, short for record, like on a video camera'.

The American remake dispensed with the title and went with Quarantine, an easier name for horror fans to grasp.

6. Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)

With outstanding feedback when it went around the film festivals, the existential thriller has become a creepy cult favourite.

Elizabeth Olsen plays Martha, a damaged woman who is trying to reintegrate with society after fleeing an abusive cult, and the third Olsen sister's performance was praised, with the 'haunting psychological drama' boasts a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

It's one failing, which may have hindered its word-of-mouth success is its tongue-twister of a title.

The hard to remember title is actually names that the main character is known by through the movie, but it was often referred to as "that 'M' movie," or "the one with all the girls' names," which definitely hurt its potential to be a hit.

5. Lucky Number Slevin (2006)

The quick-fire crime thriller boasted an impressive cast including Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis, Lucy Liu and Ben Kingsley, but it also boasted a very unusual, and barely-comprehensible title.

Slevin is actually the name of Josh Hartnett's lead character, whose full name becomes an important plot point, but there is no explanation or reasoning behind 'Number Slevin', as it's not a number, and sounds a little bit like seven.

The film was titled The Wrong Man in Australia, and despite being a bit vague, makes a bit more sense, and while the film is an enjoyable fast-paced, plot-twisting crime thriller, its goofy title means that it doesn't have the same lasting popularity of similar films.

4. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

Guy Ritchie's hugely-enjoyable Cold War action comedy boasted a cast including Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, and Hugh Grant as it saw a CIA agent reluctantly teaming up with his KGB counterpart.

Based on the American TV series which ran for four years in the '60s, the film is a more light-hearted take on the Bond films (as Bond creator Ian Fleming helped to develop the TV series) with the two main character trading snappy dialogue and some impressive action set pieces.

The mouthful of a title, which was brought over from the original TV show, didn't help to draw audiences into cinemas, and despite being a decent action flick and boasting a respectable 68% Rotten Tomatoes rating, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was unfortunately (and perhaps unjustly) one of 2015's biggest box office bombs.

3. Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)

In the above-par romantic comedy, Steve Carrell plays a recently divorced middle-aged husband, as a newfound friend helps him to learn how to pick up girls at bars.

With Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore and Emma Stone also in the film, Crazy, Stupid, Love was a sweet and good-natured romantic comedy that earned Ryan Gosling a Golden Globe nomination.

However, the film's title wasn't decided upon until well into production, as producers offered the cast and crew a free iPad to whoever came up with the official title.

Despite liking the movie, the film's lead Steve Carrell hates the title and has stated that he couldn't imagine a group of college guys saying, "Five tickets to Crazy, Stupid, Love. please."

2. Cloverfield (2008)

A huge viral marketing campaign had the found footage monster flick on everyone's radar despite it not revealing too much about the details of the film and its New York destroying monster.

But why Cloverfield? In the film, there is a very quick mention that the government labels the monster incident 'Cloverfield' - a detail which passed by all but the most eagle-eyed viewers.

Producer J.J. Abrams - who had previously worked on the famously answer-avoiding TV show Lost - revealed that Cloverfield is a street he often takes to work, which doesn't help anything.

Thanks to the marketing campaign, and despite the silly title, the film was a huge success, spawning spin-off 10 Cloverfield Lane and another upcoming (as yet untitled) follow-up set aboard a space station.

1. Good Will Hunting (1997)

Matt Damon started writing the script for what would become Good Will Hunting for a Harvard assignment, and when he met Ben Affleck, the pair collaborated on the screenplay that would eventually go on to win an Original Screenplay Oscar.

During the process, the pair disagreed on their main character's name and the movie's title, when they discovered that their friend, Derrick Bridgeman, had written a script which he had called Good Will Hunting.

The pair loved Bridgeman's title, and bought it off him for $10,000, which they added to their script and renamed the main character (played by Damon) from Nate to Will Hunting.

The title, which doesn't really refer to anything in the film, may refer to Will being good, or the characters searching for goodwill or something else entirely, has never been explained by Damon or Affleck - it's just an inexplicable title that they liked.

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