Titles

This weekend, Snakes on a Plane made $15,000,000 almost entirely because of its name. (This has been described as a disappointment, but compare that to the $9 million made a few years ago by the similar, but less titularly pleasing Eight Legged Freaks). Last summer, the 40 Year Old Virgin, with a small budget and without any stars, made over $100,000,000. Why? Partly from good word of mouth. Largely because, like Snakes on a Plane, its title described exactly what the movie would be about.

There’s probably a lesson here of some kind, but damn if I can figure out what. Obvious naming only takes you so far, only works in so many cases. There will never be another Snakes on a Plane, never another that succeeds solely on the goofy accuracy of its title.

Years after first watching it, I still occasionally think about the “Twilight Zone” episode “I Sing the Body Electric.” The episode itself is pretty crummy, notable mostly for having been written by Ray Bradbury. But that title. That title is phenomenal. That title almost makes me want to watch the show again, even though I know it won’t be any better the second time around. If you can craft a title like that, it hardly matters if the work is any good.

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2 Responses to “Titles”

  1. Cyberpunk Hero Says:

    I think science fiction tends to get the best titles. The original Star Trek series gave us “A Taste of Armageddon,” “The City on the Edge of Forever,” “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” and (my favorite) “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky.”

    Sadly, later Trek had titles like “Visions” and “Parallax.” I guess fun titles just fell out of fashion.

  2. ranting2006 Says:

    I can’t leave without mentioning my favorite “Twilight Zone” episode titles:

    And When the Sky Was Opened
    The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street
    A Nice Place to Visit
    Time Enough at Last

    (nice post! I’m a big TZ fan)

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