Blake Snyder places a lot of emphasis on the title of your script, and I think he’s on to something. If you have a fully developed log line and a well-thought out outline, but still haven’t thought of a good title, it may be because your story isn’t very compelling. This isn’t always the case, of course, but you should never underestimate the value of a good title. A title that catches a reader’s attention, that intrigues them and, ideally, gives them a sense of what your story will be about, is a priceless commodity.
Here are a few great movies that almost suffered the terrible fate of a bad title:
1. $3000 – The original title of Pretty Woman. The movie also had a different, sad ending originally, but that didn’t play well with audiences.
2. Star Beast – This was the original title of Alien. Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?
3. Anhedonia – This medical term for the inability to feel pleasure was what Woody Allen wanted to call Annie Hall. Other title options suggested by co-writer Marshall Brickman included It Had to be Jew, Anxiety, and Me and My Goy.
4. Everybody Comes to Ricks – The original title of Casablanca. (You’ll notice that short and snappy almost always wins out.)
5. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – This is the name of the short story that eventually became Blade Runner.
6. Spaceman from Pluto – This is what one executive wanted to call Back to the Future. He was overruled.
7. The Cut Whore Killings – This was the original title for Unforgiven.
8. Pacific Air Flight 121 – Samuel L. Jackson fought and won the battle to name this film Snakes on a Plane.
9. When I Grow Up – The original title of Big.
10. Not Tonight Josephine – This was the original title of Some Like It Hot.
For more could-have-been movie titles, check out Mental Floss and ShortList.