As with any medium, a title is meant to capture, in as few words as possible, the essence of the story. These can be subtle hints or outright giveaways. Some of the best titles in the history of film are only one word—The Terminator, The Godfather and Glitter. Most films aren't so lucky to have one word sum up everything necessary. These films need to include a bit more substance in their titles to create intrigue as well as make something marketable. Once a movie plants its feet in our cultural consciousness, it's almost impossible to see them as anything else. It's difficult to think of what another actor would look like in the starring role, and it's tough to picture another director calling the shots. Well, this works doubly with a film's title. To change the primary identifier of any film is to change its entire being. To do that with great films on this list is just plain wrong.
Some titles are perfect for their movies. The creator was successful in capturing everything about the film. They were able to summarize the concept with only a few words. But not every film started out with a great title. In some cases, a film's title needed to be altered because it wasn't clear enough. There are other cases where a title was changed last minute because it was misleading or not expressive enough. Yet, in almost every example of the title changes on this list, the early version looks weird. It feels alien. In almost every case on this list, the early title was flat out terrible—even if the nostalgia Kool-Aid is making us feel that way. For all the flack that Hollywood films take, making (or not making in the odd case) these last minute title changes were excellent decisions. Here are 15 movie titles that were changed last minute.
15 The Breakfast Club – The Lunch Bunch
14 Stand by Me – The Body
13 Snakes on a Plane – Pacific Air Flight 121
12 Obsessed – Oh No, She Didn’t
11 Last Action Hero – Extremely Violent
10 Child's Play – Batteries Not Included
9 Hancock – Tonight, He Comes
8 Unforgiven – The Cut-Whore Killings
7 Scream – Scary Movie
6 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – Head Cheese
5 Alien – Star Beast
4 Back to the Future – Spaceman from Pluto
3 Pulp Fiction – Black Mask
2 2001: A Space Odyssey – How The Solar System Was Won
1 E.T. the Extraterrestrial – Night Skies
The birth of E.T. the Extraterrestrial was a long and drawn out affair. After making Close Encounters of the Third Kind (originally titled Watch the Skies), Steven Spielberg was asked to make a sequel, something he did not want to do. Rather than hand over the rights to the studio and see it go to another director, Spielberg decided to make a horror alien story to appease them, calling it Night Skies. After putting a script together about malicious aliens who torment a family, Spielberg began having second thoughts. He read the script to a Melissa Mathison, a fellow screenwriter, and she fell in love with one of the aliens, Buddy, the one kind alien who befriended the family's young son who had autism. From this, Spielberg asked Mathison to draw up a script, which she did, called E.T. and Me. This turned to E.T. the Extraterrestrial. Many of the other elements of the original Night Skies story were then filtered into other films that Spielberg was involved with such as Gremlins, Poltergeist, Critters, Mac and Me, Signs and War of the Worlds.
Sources: IMDB; Shortlist; Script-O-Rama
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