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The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Character

 
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The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Character - 18/10/2012 10:07:32 AM   
Timon


Posts: 14584
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Bristol
If there is one thing that is really annoying me these days, it is the number of films that have been lumbered with the unimaginative title of the lead character's name.

Michael Clayton
John Carter
Alex Cross
Jack Ryan
Jack Reacher

For someone who has no idea who these characters are, they sound completely unappealing. Unless you've seen the previous films or read the books, do you know Jack Ryan is a CIA spy? That John Carter is a soldier transplanted to Mars?

Why not having gripping titles like many of these films originally had (Jack Reacher was going to be called One Shot).

I mean, you'd never call the next Bond film 'James Bond' would you?



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RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 18/10/2012 10:49:07 AM   
matty_b


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Yeah, it annoys me too.

Can't think of a more bland trend, really.

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RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 18/10/2012 11:01:30 AM   
jackcarter


Posts: 1825
Joined: 12/1/2006
i think the one that started it was Rocky Balboa.(recently that is - cant think of any before off hand but there mustve always been films named after main charcater) i think Rambo was also called 'John Rambo' for abit too.

quote:

I mean, you'd never call the next Bond film 'James Bond' would you?


i remember there were rumours that Quantum of Solace was going to be called just '007' - im sure EON will have '007' and 'James Bond' as back up titles when its time for another reboot and they cant think of a decent title

< Message edited by jackcarter -- 18/10/2012 11:02:04 AM >

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RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 18/10/2012 11:08:06 AM   
Timon


Posts: 14584
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Bristol
Just for the record, I'm ok with Anna Karenina.

However even the forthcoming Lincoln could have shaken it up a bit. It's only about the last few months of his presidency rather than a full on biopic.

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RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 18/10/2012 11:21:30 AM   
UTB


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Timon

However even the forthcoming Lincoln could have shaken it up a bit. It's only about the last few months of his presidency rather than a full on biopic.


Same for 'Hitchcock'.


I'd agree that the naming of the films in the original implies that the audience knows who the title refers to. All based on books, no?

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Post #: 5
RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 18/10/2012 11:25:42 AM   
BudBaxter

 

Posts: 640
Joined: 31/1/2008
I agree that it's kinda dull & doesn't suit some movies (John Carter should never have dropped the 'Of Mars' bit), but it's not exactly a new thing is it?

Forrest Gump
Charley Varrick
Mildred Pierce
Tom Jones
Foxy Brown
Annie Hall

etc etc...

http://www.screened.com/movies-named-after-their-main-character/27-165/

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Post #: 6
RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 18/10/2012 11:30:11 AM   
UTB


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Its not a new thing but it is a current trend which seems to take characters which have existed in cinematic form before and in order to reboot them use just the name of the lead character, Clayton aside.

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RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 18/10/2012 11:34:22 AM   
Timon


Posts: 14584
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Bristol
I don't believe Jack Reacher has appeared on the big screen, and if you know nothing about the character, the title doesn't really sell it to you.

One Shot at least gives the impression of a thriller/action.

And Alex Cross, except maybe to Patterson fans, is hardly 'Batman'.

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RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 18/10/2012 11:46:42 AM   
jobloffski

 

Posts: 1886
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Emma, King Lear, Hamlet, Moll Flanders, Robinson Crusoe...

It's not a new thing by any means, and if it's a new series of films based on material with a series of stories revolving around one central character the lead character's name is a perfectly legitimate title for an introductory film.

If people have no idea who the lead character is by the time a film comes out that's a marketing problem not a title problem.

John Carter, case in point. The marketing should, very obviously have referred to it as being the source of many ideas in/inspiration for later material like Flash Gordon (man from earth versus/allied with (delete as appropriate) aliens, Star Wars (the words Jeddak, something close to Padawan and the actual word Sith first appear in JC material), Dune, etc etc. Plus making a big thing of science fiction written by the same guy who created Tarzan. 'Of Mars' is irrelevant to the title, and if you;re gonna spend $200m+ on making a film, you use marketing that appeals to people who like the material inspired by its source and promote ther idea...this is where it REALLY began.

Although, in the case of JC, a lot is lost by moving too far from the story as a first person account that shows JC to be a swaggering hero who admits to not always thinking things through, whose 'attack first, ask questions later' compounds the situation almost as much as allowing him to save the day and is often (to me anyway) as much as a sarky take of the nature of heroism as a basic adventure series. JC is also a parody of Earth attitudes. looking at slavish aherence to duty and the problems it causes, religion and the hypocrisy it creates and control it exerts, etc. But, as ever in such observations, a bit late to comment now, by saying things such as...instead of highlighting the pioneering nature of the source that led to star wars, etc, it made the film look at times like those it inspired, and thereby lost its own relevance, because it made it look to be copying what it inspired, to people who didn;t know different.

Back on topic, name of character titles, nothing new. I'd never heard of Jack Reacher till the fuss over Tom Cruise being cast started. And how would Rocky Balboa have started a trend like this given the original 70s film was the even more briefly titled Rocky?

< Message edited by jobloffski -- 18/10/2012 11:48:23 AM >


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RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 18/10/2012 11:50:21 AM   
jobloffski

 

Posts: 1886
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: elsewhere

quote:

ORIGINAL: Timon

I don't believe Jack Reacher has appeared on the big screen, and if you know nothing about the character, the title doesn't really sell it to you.

One Shot at least gives the impression of a thriller/action.

And Alex Cross, except maybe to Patterson fans, is hardly 'Batman'.


But One Shot is a title of a story featuring Reacher. If you want more than one film do you follow it up with one shot 2? Two Shot?


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RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 18/10/2012 12:17:50 PM   
Timon


Posts: 14584
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From: Bristol
Just do what the Bond films do...

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Twitter: @timonsingh

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RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 18/10/2012 12:19:08 PM   
chris kilby

 

Posts: 1200
Joined: 31/3/2010
I think it's different if it's a biopic - Nixon, Lincoln, Hitchcock et al pretty much tell you what to expect. Or a historical movie - Spartacus. But Michael Clayton? John Carter? Jack Reacher? Never heard of 'em! What's a better title, James Bond or Dr No? Or From Russia With Love? Or Goldfinger? Or...

While I think poor old John Carter was probably doomed from the start, I reckon John Carter of Mars would have put a few more bums on seats. Unless you've heard of the character (and I'd never heard of Jack Reacher till I read about him here) eponymous titles are bland and meaningless. Unless you're a super-hero, of course. Or a universally recognised icon like Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes or Dracula.

They can also be counter-productive. North Sea Hijack (a gem of a Brit action movie with Roger Moore[!] as an anti-terrorist hardnut so gleefully sexist and unreconstructed he made 007 look like Clare Rayner - even if he did relax by doing needlepoint!) was disastrously called "Ffolkes" in the US, much to Moore's reported chagrin. Ffolkes!?! I mean, for Ffolkes' sake!

< Message edited by chris kilby -- 18/10/2012 12:33:43 PM >

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RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 18/10/2012 12:31:45 PM   
chris kilby

 

Posts: 1200
Joined: 31/3/2010
There are exceptions, of course. Rocky IS a good, strong, memorable title. Not only does it have a "K" in it and (the then unknown) Stallone, his arms outstretched, formed the "Y" on some of the posters, with its deliberate allusion to Rocky Marciano, it pretty much told audiences it was a boxing movie.

Citizen Kane is another one - a "Z" and a "K"? Strong stuff.

This could be a game, of course:

Star Wars = Luke Skywalker
Raiders of the Lost Ark = Indiana Jones
The Godfather = Don Vito Corleone
Psycho = Norman
The Silence of The Lambs = Um... Hannibal
Jaws = Er... Bruce?

PS: If Alien had been called "Ripley," not only would it have been shit, it would've given the game away...

< Message edited by chris kilby -- 18/10/2012 12:34:30 PM >

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RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 18/10/2012 1:06:31 PM   
Whistler


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It doesn't really bother me but I do find it a bit unimaginative. Part of the joy of writing something comes with the creation of the title (for me anyway), and naming it after the lead character is just a bit boring.

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RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 18/10/2012 1:23:39 PM   
jobloffski

 

Posts: 1886
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: elsewhere

quote:

ORIGINAL: Timon

Just do what the Bond films do...


Have a couple of decades of popular mainstream novels and a radio adaptation starring Bob Holness as part of activities making the character and author very much in the public consciousness before a film is ever mooted so by the time it arrives there is a carefully cultivated air of 'finally, we can see the film of this stuff we've been crying out for, for so long'?

Okay, being slightly facetious, but (Name of actor) is (name of author)'s (name of main character) in (name of story) is a rather dangerous approach because that would look precisely like an attempt to do a Bond, and could seem a little pretentious when the property is not as well known as Bond already was by the time Doctor No hit the screen.

In terms of Jack Reacher, the first one called Jack Reacher, then sequels with that plus a colon (name of story) works fine. Similarly, John Carter, followed by John Carter: The Gods of Mars would've worked fine. John Carter Of Mars, bit clunky and John Carter: A Princess of Mars for the first story, wrong message

Rocky, yes, alludes to Marciano, but not everybody has heard of even the most famous sportsmen of their own day and in some minds the word at the time would bring to mind "and Bullwinkle". The title works cos the title character is the title character, it's gone on forever but if you do put a bunch of character name titles together of course it looks bland, if they are stories people don't know. Know the character, the title then says all you need to know, and the only criteria is it a shit story or a good story. You probably have to be iconic as Batman or Superman to get away with dropping the lead character's name and even then The Dark Knight and Man of Steel are already well known nicknames for the characters concerned.

For as long as there have been stories there have been stories with the main character's name as a title. A number of lead character titled films isn't even a trend, there is no money making value in the concept 'hey, films with lead character names are a sure fire hit, lets do that' which is what would have to be the case for this to be a trend. Blade. Solomon Kane. Many more, if you haven't heard of the character, the name is meaningless. It's up to the positioning of the film in the public consciousness to give the information needed.

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RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 18/10/2012 1:29:04 PM   
homersimpson_esq


Posts: 20116
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From: Springfield
If Alien were to have been called anything, it would have been called Nostromo, which would have tied in with Prometheus. Aliens would have been Sulaco, Alien 3: Fiorina, and Alien: Resurrection: Auriga.

It's an interesting example because Alien and Aliens are such great, sparse, titles. But the ship-name thing would work too.

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RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 18/10/2012 1:40:07 PM   
great_badir


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Can't say it bothers me in the least, even if it is sometimes a bit lazy.

It's a bit like the old saying "don't judge a book by its cover" (even though I ALWAYS did when I was a kid). A bit. Sort of. Maybe.

I don't no - it doesn't bother me, so I've never really thought about it.

I do wish they stuck with John Rambo over here, though - would've tied it in nicely with Rocky Balboa. I understand it changed to just Rambo literally a few days before it rolled out to the cinemas (I distinctly remember Stallone on Jonathan Ross' chat show a week or so before, and it was still being called John Rambo then).

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RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 18/10/2012 1:42:49 PM   
jobloffski

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: homersimpson_esq

If Alien were to have been called anything, it would have been called Nostromo, which would have tied in with Prometheus. Aliens would have been Sulaco, Alien 3: Fiorina, and Alien: Resurrection: Auriga.

It's an interesting example because Alien and Aliens are such great, sparse, titles. But the ship-name thing would work too.



The ships in the Alien films, like Prometheus, were referencing literary things. Before Prometheus, Joseph Conrad's works inspire the names you refer to, and Conrad is obviously known for the whole 'Heart of Darkness' thing, of character's being taken beyond anything they have ever known into situations of primal fear and confronting the violence inherent in nature. But the Alien was the main attraction. Prometheus lifts things from just being subtext to being the whole point of the film, and the myriad of meanings you can attach to the title is even reflected in the way the ship Prometheus confronts the ship of the 'Gods' and comes off worse...(slips into self protective coma to prevent prentiousness overload ;-)

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RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 18/10/2012 1:45:21 PM   
OPEN YOUR EYES

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: chris kilby
Jaws = Er... Bruce?


BRUCE

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RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 18/10/2012 1:46:16 PM   
Super Hans


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From: Watford
I know it's not a new thing really but there's definitely a difference between 'Rocky Balboa', 'King Lear' etc and 'Jack Reacher' or 'Alex Cross'. At least with the former two, the character is either long established or they are the actual story. Also with films like Michael Clayton, while I haven't seen it, I don't suppose character recognition is a key purpose of the title being as it is, is it?

With Jack Reacher/Alex Cross/Jack Ryan etc, it makes less sense to me - they are characters in the stories, not the stories themselves. It's almost like LA Confidential being called "Edmund Exley" or The Da Vinci Code being called "Robert Langdon".

Even within that, at least Jack Ryan is we'll established on the screen already - I'd imagine Jack Reacher is completely unknown to many and while James Patterson has churned out enough guff featuring Alex Cross, I'm not sure how well established the character's name is in popular culture?

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RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 18/10/2012 3:04:06 PM   
fuzzy


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Personally, I blame Billy Elliot.

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RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 18/10/2012 3:06:20 PM   
fuzzy


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From: Grizzly Flats
It also helps if the name is also a word, e.g. Shaft.

No. Explanation. Needed.  

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RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 18/10/2012 5:08:39 PM   
chris kilby

 

Posts: 1200
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Whistler

It doesn't really bother me but I do find it a bit unimaginative. Part of the joy of writing something comes with the creation of the title (for me anyway), and naming it after the lead character is just a bit boring.


Unless your lead character's called Carlos Spicywiener!

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RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 18/10/2012 9:29:44 PM   
musht


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I don't particularly mind this for one off films such as Michael Clayton but when the studio is trying to launch a new franchise it really annoys me as we're left with either numbered sequels or colons. It annoys me that studios can't trust the audience not to know a sequel without either of these techniques.

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RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 19/10/2012 1:12:20 AM   
homersimpson_esq


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quote:

ORIGINAL: musht

I don't particularly mind this for one off films such as Michael Clayton but when the studio is trying to launch a new franchise it really annoys me as we're left with either numbered sequels or colons. It annoys me that studios can't trust the audience not to know a sequel without either of these techniques.


Bit of colonic irritation there?


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RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 19/10/2012 12:28:46 PM   
great_badir


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quote:

ORIGINAL: fuzzy
It also helps if the name is also a word, e.g. Shaft.

No. Explanation. Needed.  


Depends - simply titled grumble flick? A documentary about rays of light, machinery or the things that lifts go up and down? A thriller about the same? A big screen adaptation of the classic Kilroy gameshow?

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RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 19/10/2012 1:12:41 PM   
boaby

 

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From: Aberdeenshire
What about:

The Big Lebowski
The Blues Brothers
Pappillon
Jackie Brown
Jerry MaGuire
King Kong
Leon
Donnie Brasco

I thought we were just naming films with eponymous protagonists.

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RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 21/10/2012 7:54:48 PM   
Tidus


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to be fair leon is actually called "the professional"

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RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 21/10/2012 8:18:39 PM   
Hood_Man


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quote:

ORIGINAL: fuzzy

It also helps if the name is also a word, e.g. Shaft.

No. Explanation. Needed.  

Anyone else immediately think of Kilroy Silk?


I mean


I mean

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Post #: 29
RE: The Current Trend of Naming Films After The Lead Ch... - 21/10/2012 8:32:12 PM   
Tidus


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I hope the sequel to Jack Reacher is called

Jack Reacher:Round

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