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November 21 2007

The 10 most unfortunate film titles ever. ReelzChannel gives their list of unfortunate film titles. Have a look at number 10.

[ edited by williamthebloody1880 on 2007-11-21 20:26 ]

This crashed my web connection...twice.
Mine was fine.....weird.
"Serenity" wanted to make this guy take a nap?
Then he would have slept through a Big Damn Good Movie! He should have had some coffee first.
On the other hand, his list does include some good movies. I was afraid "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" was going to be on that list, because there are still who read that, and doubt that it's for real.
Ten years, 15 if you count the movie, and she's still for real.
Serenity was a pretty odd title. But I've never heard a better suggestion.
I'm pretty sure the author meant the title "Serenity" induces nappy feelings for him... He says that typical sci-fi movies have something macho like 'trek' or 'odyssey' in the title, while the title "Serenity" is something only us Browncoats could appreciate...

That line of thought seems lazy to me, though.
Wow. Someone needs to spend more time looking at film titles.
CHUD (I think) had a totally different list recnetly, similar idea but totally different criteria.

I somewhat s ee the pointitty-pointy-point he's trying to make, tho.
Serenity was a pretty odd title. But I've never heard a better suggestion.

Mal Reynolds and the Kick-Ass Chick?

Yes, I don't like this list. Seriously, the fact that The Shawshank Redemption is number one proves that the list is useless. At least it's not named "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" like the novella is!
I get it. The name may have had a different message for Browncoats than for the general public that wants "trek" or "War" in the title. So what are some possible names that we think would have sold this guy, or the somnambulistic public on the film?
'Could be fun. How about:
"Butt-Kicking Kung-Fu chicks In Space"
or, "Reaver Wars"
What are some others you all could come up with?
Whoa - I do NOT agree with this list. I guess I see his point about Serenity, but I think What's Eating Gilbert Grape? and Blade Runner are GREAT titles.

Also, I think he should have done some more research, because What's Eating Gilbert Grape?, Love in the Time of Cholera, The House of Sand and Fog, and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly are all based on book titles (and maybe some of the other ones too). Change those and you run the risk of alienating part of your audience. Like they did when they changed The Dark is Rising to The Seeker - blargh.

I too was suprised not to see Buffy the Vampire Slayer on this list!
I would have called it "A World Without Sin."
Ah, good old Reaver Wars. Featuring A New Crewmember, Miranda Strikes Back, and Return Of The Browncoats.
How about "Last of the Independents?" Sure, the Pretenders had a CD with that title, but it fits.
There was a guy who had trouble giving away free tickets to 'Serenity' on the first day it opened because the kids he approached assumed it was a chick flick. I always felt that naming it 'Space Transport Vessel' would have worked better.
Plus getting Jody Foster to play The Operative (I'm still blown away by how much money her lame airplane movie made! LOL).
I think more than just the title change alienated "The Seeker" audience.
Fascist on a Spaceship.
Heck, I didn't even know there was a movie made of The Dark is Rising. Hmmm, based on a quick look at the reviews, that's something else that should make people jealous of me.

[ edited by barboo on 2007-11-21 22:40 ]
Ohh, they could do a Buffy sequel that takes place on an airplane, and call it "Stakes on a Plane."
"Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" sounds - if you ignore the meaning - like a band from the seventies.

And I must say I agree that Serenity wasn't the most magnetic title imaginable. Although it did fit the movie quite well, it's not really an "I HAVE TO SEE THAT!" kind of title. People don't watch action movies for the serenity. However, thinking up a title that fits the movie perfectly AND would have drawn a huge audience is kind of impossible, I fear.

I mean, the movie has space ships, outlaws, a dude with a sword who works for the government, a mentally disturbed psychic girl who kicks ass, people dying, cannibals, a message about humanity and the right to be wrong and another message about believing in something.
It's hard to squeeze all that awesomeness into one title that makes people go "I HAVE TO SEE THAT!". It's not as simple as "Snakes on a Plane".

"Firefly: the Movie" - sounds like one of those CGI bug flicks.
"Something a Good Deal More Dangerous" - too long and weird.
"Outlaws in Space" - too cheesy to describe the awesomeness of the movie.
"The Right to be Wrong" - sounds like a cliche and doesn't describe the awesomeness of the movie the least bit. Plus, apparently, it's also the title of another film of 2005.
"Captain Tightpants and the Secret Planet" - what the smeg?

[ edited by Vince on 2007-11-21 22:45 ]

Mal And The Amazing Technically Brown Colored Coat
A Reaver Runs Through It
Mr. Universe And The Real Girl
Alliance Treasure: Book of Secrets

I think I'll stop now.
Actually, I had thought of River Runs Through It, but that was already taken.
I'm inclined to agree about the title, but it's not something Whedon seems to care about. If anything, I think he gets some sort of kick out of using misrepresentational titles. I mean, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse do not exactly sound like things I would want to see.

On the other hand, his more straightforwardly titled works (Goners, Cabin in the Woods, Ripper) are the ones he has the most trouble getting produced in the first place. Shrug.
A River Runs It Through could also work, barboo.
Boo, hiss, at that whole list.
LOL at Lady Brick!

How about plain ol' Firefly Movie? It's obviously working for Seinfeld. Or go at it from the Western angle: Malcolm Reynolds and the Psychic-Sooper-Ass-Kicking Kid.
Those Left Behind is good scifi/action title. And would have worked just as well for the movie as the comic books.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was a great title for the novel, but the adaptation cut out the elements it refers to.
"Ninja Girl Go ! Fight !"
"Psychic Girl and Her Amazing Killer Brain !"
"Two Guys, a Girl and a Spaceship. And Some Other Guys and Girls"
"Those Magnificent Men (and Women) in Their Flying Machine"
"Carry On Reaving"
"The Misbehavers"
"Laughter For Chickens"
"The Miranda Convergence"
"As Worlds Turn"
"Leaves on the Wind. But Space Wind"

Fair point, "Serenity" doesn't scream sci-fi action extravaganza with also the funny but then, what does ? And a lot of the other entries feel like a pissed up conversation down the pub. "You know what's a funny name ... "The Shawshank Redemption", I mean WTF ? Right ? Huh ?". Next morning you'd be all "Oh, that's what the novella's called ? Cos of the poster ? OK, makes sense actually" but by then it's too late.
OK, just came across this IMDB list for "worst" adventure titles. Among them are a few which are definitely worse than Serenity including I Accidentally Domed Your Son and my favorite, Tangy Guacamole.
I personally have always thought the most unfortunately-titled movie of all time to be the third movie in the Honey I Shrunk The Kids franchise:
Honey I Blew Up the Kid

Well, could be worse. They could have intentionally domed their son.
I'm not sure why folks are being so critical of this list. I see it as a list of really great movies that suffered at the box office because their title didn't have mass appeal. Yes, I would put Serenity in that category, and I would absolutely put Shawshank at #1. I resisted seeing that movie for years just because of the title, and its now one of my all-time favorites. Shawshank is one of the main reasons I try not to pay any attention to movie titles, and base my viewing choices on more substantial criteria.
How about "Who the Hell is Miranda?"
Joss was so close to calling it 'Odyssey War 2001: Alien Trek' too, darn...
"It's about Time". Browncoats would agree and those old enough would automatically know it was about Space.
Never heard of "Don't judge a book by its cover." AlanD?
"A World Without Sin" is pretty good, but sounds like an art movie, which is one of the problems with "Serenity".

I would have called it "Dangerous to Know". Multiple meanings. Sounds like an action flick and a mystery/thriller/conspiracy movie. River has a secret that's dangerous to know. River and Mal, the leads of the movie, are both dangerous to know in the Byronic sense ("mad, bad and dangerous to know.")
Lord this list makes my brain hurt. It's just a BAD list, and I can't really agree with it at all? Serenity?! BLADE RUNNER!? What the hell is this person on?
Wait, I heard,"Thud!" Where were we again?
Or how about Serenity: Firefly Class

But then maybe Universal couldn't even use Firefly anywhere in the title at all.
I think it should have been called "River." :-)
I really don't get why people are so upset over this list. It's not like the guy is saying these movies suck.
The guy has a point...I agree with unscrewed he isn't saying the movies are bad, he's saying they did poorly in the box office BECAUSE of the movie titles. People don't see a title like Serenity and immediately want to go see it (unless they are aware of the verse). It doesn't scream sci-fi action film...I get that.
Well, as far as marketing it to action fans, something like "Serenity: the Battle for Freedom" might have worked. Or may not've made any difference.
Lioness -
...about strange people, and the strangest place.

Very Clever, though I think makes you the only person I know that's familiar with the show.
A River Runs It Through could also work, barboo.

Lady Brick, I second the LOL. I think that's the best suggestion that's been offered on this page.
Perhaps The Signal would have been a better title. It has more of a science-fiction feel, it doesn't sound like it's necessarily an art-house flick, and it would still fit with the movie. I would suggest Can't Stop the Signal, but that would be uncomfortably close to the title of a really horrible movie musical starring the Village People.

Serious suggestions that wouldn't work for various reasons:
Aim to Misbehave
Brave New World
Pax or The Pax

Facetious suggestions:
Blade Reaver
Firefly 2: Eclectic Bugaboo
26th Century Sux
"Serenity: the Battle for Freedom" sounds like an old war movie.
"Dangerous to Know" and "A World Without Sin" don't exactly scream space either.

Thing is, space things tend to have "star", "planet" or "space" or some other word that directly relates to space in the title, so that everybody knows the moment they hear of it that it's a space thing.
"Star Wars", "Star Trek", "Stargate", "Battlestar Galactica", "2001: A Space Odyssey", "Planet of the [insert pretty much anything here]", "Spaceballs", "Dark Star", et cetera...
Thing is, putting a title like that on Serenity would just be weird. Especially since it's not about just one thing.

For example, there's a dead planet in the movie, which is quite important to the plot, but it couldn't have been called "Dead Planet" because it would have spoiled the triple surprise of "Miranda? Oh, it's a planet? Oh, it's dead?".
There's also space cowboys in the film, but it couldn't have been called "Space Cowboys" because it sounds cheesy and the westernness wasn't even that central in the movie, so it wouldn't have made any sense.
"More space", as said by Jayne, sounds like a comedy when taken out of context.
"Serenity: Spaceship vs Dude With a Sword" Is right on the money, but doesn't exactly scream serious.
I don't think it could have been called anything with "Star", as there's nothing I can think of in the movie that relates specifically to stars.

Serenity is the best title this film could have had. It's unfortunately not a title that grabs your attention, but at least it wasn't stupid.
Browncoats: The Search for Miranda.

Okay, I can hear the response on this, "Um, Miranda who???"
Son of Star Wars
Firefly 2.0
Goodies vs. Baddies
Cry Freedom In Space
I'm with BAFler - "The Signal" would have worked just fine. But I have a feeling we are just a tad too late on this one...
Okay, how about Serenity: the Battle for Space Freedom? ;)

I like your list, Simon - the last one especially makes me chuckle. :)

More ideas:

Where Are You Hiding, Little Girl?
I Aim to Misbehave
I Don't Care What You Believe... Just Believe In It
A Leaf On the Wind ( :( )
Do You Know That Girl?
Ain't Exactly Plan A
You Mean To Say As... Sex?

Also, Grenades!, or Flight of the Albatross. (Okay, Flight of the Space Albatross.)
Sp-Albatross, get your Sp-Albatross 'ere ...
For me, if the title had screamed "Sci-Fi! Actiony!" that says, "Ah, completely lacking in anything that appeals to me." What you'd really want in the title is something that says "Movie made by guy with both brain AND heart" or "Movie with plot worth following, characters worth characterizing, and dialog worth listening to, and a worthwhile point to it!"

I don't see it as a movie only for those who love the sci-fi, but a movie for dang near anyone (except those positively allergic to sci-fi).

I suspect the title was meant to not alienate everyone who doesn't require action and aliens in everything they see.

If you can not fail to follow my multipli-negative wording.
There is actually a simple way to tweak the title to make it say sci-fi:

Serenity 2518

Not saying that it's a great title, especially after Cleopatra 2525; just putting it out there.
Happy Thanksgiving! This thread made me realize I finally have time to pop my special edition DVD in the player.

I like "A World Without Sin." And I agree, the writer isn't slamming the movies, merely their names. I wouldn't change Serenity's name either, but the name alone probably turned some people off. Many of the same people have probably since caught it on cable or DVD.

ETA: How about "Truth of the Signal"?

[ edited by April on 2007-11-22 19:33 ]
Mal And The Amazing Technically Brown Colored Coat

Okay first LOL at A River Runs Through it and Stakes on a Plane.

But seriously, I do think that Joss' titles work against him.
When I knew from the internet that the Serenity event was going to be at Universal before the movie opened I went to try to find out more info.
I went to the information office, and they knew nothing about it. (And didn't that give me a sinking feeling)
The guy in the office tried to find out more info about it by searching on his computer, guess what he found?
Information about adult diapers. Sigh.

Angel, sounded like a religious show, as opposed to a show about a bad ass vampire detective, and we don't even need to discuss Buffy.
Joss should just hire someone to name stuff for him.
We do SO need to discuss Buffy, if you're insulting it.

A title that contains a juxtaposition, and basic silliness, says that the creator of the show isn't afraid of complexity OR silliness.

I think it's a great title. If TV had been in my lifestyle at that time, I would have checked the show out, mostly because I loved the title -- and I'm not usually interested in horror at all.
Joss is really good at coming up with smart titles that mean more than one thing and fit the properties perfectly, but he's not quite as good at coming up with titles that make people who aren't familiar with his work want to check it out, simply because people aren't used to his kind of titles. When I first heard of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", I wasn't the least bit interested. It just sounded like a cross between "Xena: Warrior Princess" and "Sabrina the Teenage Witch", which was not something I was ready to wrap my head around. When I checked it out, years later, I was shocked to find out it was genius. I would assume titles like "Angel" and "Serenity" have a similar effect on the uninitiated, in that angels can be percieved as kind of lame and serenity sounds like nothing ever happens. I fear that "Dollhouse" might suffer the same fate, in that dollhouses aren't exactly the most awesome toys on the market and thus might cause non-fans to pass.
That list is just ridiculous. I actually think a lot of those titles are really GOOD. It seems like the person who made this list just put any titles that weren't completely ordinary and actually made him think.
Seven of Nine was my suggestion a while back (on Whedonesque) for what the sequel should be called.

This list is boring. To be fair though, I think the author meant the title Serenity was sleep-inducing, not the movie itself.
I think that Serenity is an incredibly good title from the perspective of anyone who has seen the film, and particularly Browncoats who knew what it meant before the film's release. but I agree in practical terms that in terms of attracting the masses, Serenity was too subtle a title to really drag them in. It sounds so reflective that it doesn't suggest anything about the drama or action that the film contains.

Personally if I heard of a film called Serenity (for example before Firefly even existed) I would probably be intrigued rather than bored simply because of the docile sounding title, but the truth is a lot of people wouldn't want to see it based purely on the title.

So I think the writer has it right in terms of attracting a mainstream audience who like something which lays out what the film is going to contain, like "Cars, Guns and Hot, Scantily Clad Women", but I also agree with his comment that it makes sense to the rest of us. And really I don't think there are many other titles which would really reflect the film's themes accurately, without being too simple. Serenity is of course the spaceship but it is also the kind of happiness and security that all of the characters in the film are chasing, particularly Mal and River.
I immediatly fell in love with the name "Buffy". I also really like all the titles on this list, though.
Anyone played "Malcolms Revenge" (Fables & Fiends, The Legend of Kyrandia, book three)? I'm playing it right now, wonderfull game, but it also could've been the title of a Firefly movie.

[ edited by the Groosalugg on 2007-11-23 00:36 ]
It's about Time". Browncoats would agree and those old enough would automatically know it was about Space.

Lioness! I too am old enough to remember that show, but then we'd have to bring up the whole "Astronauts vs. Caveman" question, and there's no solving that one in 2 hours.
I love the title "Serenity" and wouldn't change it. The commercials definitely showed it as an action movie anyway. There is no better title it could have.
The title "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" also grabbed me immediately. It's perfect. I know it makes it hard to convince the slightly snobby to watch it, or to take the critical acclaim (for the TV show)seriously , but, they're not ready for it anyway.
It's been fun reading this thread.

[ edited by Anna von Ovonov on 2007-11-23 02:26 ]
Somewhere, sometime, some funky little theater needs to show a double bill featuring Serenity and Happiness... just for folks who always take movie titles literally.

Brother, are they going to be surprised... twice...
Heh, no kidding 11thHour ;).

(I watched "Happiness" in a mixed group and a few of the women in the group couldn't understand why me and a mate were laughing at certain moments. I'm not sure if they missed the point or if i'm just one sick puppy ;)
quote Joss Whedon:
Some people also said that you can't call an action movie "Serenity" ... What was I gonna call it? "Big Smash Bang with Boobies"? Which was, of course, my second choice.

Actually, if Joss REALLY wants to get some mainstream attention, he should make a film called just that.

I know I'm coming late to the game, but me and a friend had a discussion about this when the film was out. The best I could come up with was "The Battle of Serenity", since it least it didn't sound like a transcendental meditation movie....Sometimes, add the worth "deadly" or "kill" to a title can help. But "Deadly Serenity" sounds like an erotic thriller to me. "Serenity Kill" sounds like...I don't know, but not something I want to see.

But, seriously, what was really needed was a month's long all-media marketing campaign to educated the public. Would have been expensive, but when you think about it most titles aren't very descriptive and need some kind of awareness drummed up over time. "The Godfather" sounds like a religious family fable; "Gone with the Wind" sounds like a meteorology is involved; "Hamlet" sounds like it's about a very small town....

On the other hand, titles are getting simpler, like "American Gangster", which could have been the title of, well, every American gangster movie ever made. How about "Sino-American Spaceship"?
Saje ~ "I'm not sure if they missed the point or if i'm just one sick puppy ;)"

Yes. ;-)

Actually, I laughed a lot during that movie. I guess outrageous, jaw dropping situations decending into bleak tragedy just tickles me... heh...

On the topic at hand, I do tend to agree that the title Serenity worked against the success of the movie being sought out by the uninitiated. An imaginative and wide ranging promotional campaign could have turned that aroung, but that didn't exactly happen.

It comes down to how diverse and hard to pin down the 'Verse really is. Sure it combines some classic themes, but concentrating on any one of them could cause loss of interest from people who aren't necessarily into Sci-Fi, or Westerns, etc. So as some have suggested, a good title might have focused more on the spirit of the story rather than the trappings of it.

Perhaps a title something like Whatever it takes.
"Gone With the Wind" was based on a best-selling novel of the same title.

I like "The Signal" the best of oll the suggestions so far. Pithy, sounds sort of action/thriller/conspiracy/sci-fi without turning off people who prefer movies about relationships.

I would not go see a movie called "Serenity" if I knew nothing else about it. The picture it conjures up is "pretentious and boring". And I'm a huge fan; I saw it so many times in theatrical release that I have most of the dialogue and half the camera angles memorized.
Late (probably too much so) to this party...but, what about "Can't Stop the Signal"?
Chris inVirginia, I mentioned that title up above, as well as my reason for rejecting it. (Surely no one wants Serenity to be compared to the Village People.) But aside from that, it does tend to give away the moral of the piece, doesn't it? I was the person who originally suggested The Signal precisely because it was pithy and thus probably more mass-marketable (and thanks for getting that, janef).

tehabwa and fortunateizzi, I do think you're both missing the point of the titles. If they don't put butts in seats, they aren't good titles. Now Buffy came along at a perfect was given a shot on a fledgling network that desperately wanted original programming, and could take risks. The title had, because of this, seven years to permeate the popular culture--and it didn't hurt that it was attached to, first the WB's and then UPN's, "prestige program." Angel got a chance most shows wouldn't have during its semi-floundering first year because its ties to Buffy were obvious...people knew what they were getting. (Curious that it only became really good once it started to sever those ties and do its own thing.)

But Firefly and Serenity? Didn't work as well. Joss was making them for 1) an established network and 2) an established studio, neither of which was willing to take the risks the WB ultimately took. It's precisely at that point when the titles have to become more mass-marketable to get some people curious. Unfair? Hell, yes. But there it is. Or rather, here it is, in script mode, between two guys imaginatively monikered Bill and Ted:

BILL: "So what's new at the cineplex?"
TED: "Hey, there's this new movie called Serenity. Wanna go, dude?"
BILL: "No thanks. Sounds like a freakin' chick movie."

BILL: "So what's new at the cineplex?"
TED: "Hey, there's this new movie called The Signal. Wanna go, dude?"
BILL: "Eh, why not? It's prob'ly just another Matrix knockoff, but at least it's not a freakin' chick movie."

Now we know they'd be freaked out by the general awesomeness of Joss once they got in the door. But getting them in...that's the key.
Sorry about this, but how about
I Refuse To Dumb-Down My Titles Just Because The Average Movie Goer Has The Attention Span Of A Knat"
I think I like it but to be honest I never read all the way to the end.

Thanks for that LOL, Saje. ;_)

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