10 great films that were hindered by terrible names

  • 10 great films that were hindered by terrible names

Usually, the first thing you hear about a film is its name, and despite you being given more details, trailers and teasers about the film, there's no escaping the feelings conjured up from the title.

Which is why a bad name can sink a film's chances of success, even if it has the potential to be an all-time great. 

Here are ten films whose chances of greatness were hindered when they were given an awful name...

10. A Most Violent Year (2014)

Starring Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year tells the tale of a New York immigrant, who owns an up-and-coming heating oil business, sees his trucks getting hijacked, and sets about trying to expand his business to better compete with his rivals.

The film - written and directed by J.C. Chandor - was widely praised for its gritty and atmospheric delivery, and won many critics awards.

While its title references 1981 New York - the city's most dangerous and crime-heavy year, the name sounds like a blood-soaked gangster movie, rather than a marvellous, gritty but not very violent story of a man trying to keep his business straight.

9. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009)

Directed by renowned Hollywood madman Werner Herzog, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans sees renowned Hollywood madman Nicolas Cage provide his best performance in years in the crime drama with an impressive 87% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Like only Nicolas Cage can, he goes full-on insane as drug and gambling-addicted Police Sergeant Terence McDonagh, investigating the execution of five Senegalese immigrants in post-Katrina New Orleans.

Taking its name from the 1992 crime drama Bad Lieutenant, Herzog emphasised that it was "neither a sequel nor a remake" (much to the chagrin of the original's director) as it was most likely a ploy to get fans into the cinemas; which didn't work out, as no-one went to see the film despite the lofty praise that was being levelled at it by critics.

8. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

In the sci-fi action film, Tom Cruise plays a smug public affairs officer who is thrown into battle against better-equipped aliens, and discovers that his day resets every time he dies.

Boasting a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the film was near-universally praised as a clever, breezy and ambitious sci-fi war movie.

Based on the Japanese young adult novel All You Need Is Kill, the producers decided to rename it for Western audiences, and the name they chose was accurate to the story, but sounded like a lame romantic comedy.

It would seem that halfway through the film's marketing, the 'powers that be' came to the conclusion that the title wasn't great, and focused the marketing campaign heavily on the tagline 'Live. Die. Repeat' - leaving it with two equally lacklustre titles.

7. eXistenZ (1999)

With one of the most late '90s/early 2000s names of any film - back when everyone was throwing X's and Z's into titles - eXistenZ sees a video game designer on the run from assassins, who must play her latest game with a trainee to determine whether it's damaged.

While it sounds like a daft (and extremely '90s) story, the sci-fi horror went down well with fans and critics, boasting a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 71% - the same as more high-profile sci-fi flicks Pacific Rim, The Fifth Element and Interstellar.

Even a cast featuring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jude Law and Willem Dafoe with David Cronenberg directing, illustrated that no film can escape a weirdly capitalised, and seriously bad, title.

6. Captain Fantastic (2016)

Viggo Mortensen delivered a wonderful and Oscar-nominated performance as a father of six, who raises his children in the Pacific Northwest wilderness with a mix of exercise, philosophy, left wing politics and survivalist skills.

Ben's unorthodox parenting is brought into question when his wife dies and his father-in-law attempts to take custody of the children, in the moving, and highly praised independent film.

In the current film climate, when superhero blockbusters are being released virtually on a weekly basis, Captain Fantastic passed prospective fans by as they were misled into thinking that it was another explosion-filled superhero flick, when it is virtually the opposite.

5. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

A star-studded cast including Al Pacino, Kevin Spacey and Alec Baldwin feature in the profanity-filled drama about the world of real estate salesmen.

When the corporate office of a real estate company sends in a foul-mouthed trainer to one of their regional officers, the staff are told that all except the top two salesmen will be fired.

Adapted from the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play, and with an incredible 97% Rotten Tomatoes rating, the unwieldy title (which comes from two developments that the salesmen are peddling) has unfortunately prevented it from becoming the Hollywood classic that it should.

4. Gone Baby Gone (2007)

Ben Affleck made his feature-length directorial debut with the crime thriller about a pair of Boston-based private detectives tasked with investigating the disappearance of a four-year-old girl in their neighbourhood.

The film boasts an incredible 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was widely praised for its twisting and morally ambiguous plot, which helped to win many critics awards for Affleck and his stars Amy Ryan and Casey Affleck.

Its title Gone Baby Gone serves to make it sound like a daytime TV melodrama, but Affleck had his hands tied due to it being an adaptation of Dennis Lehane's 1998 novel - although we think he should have pushed harder to have its title changed.

3. Nightcrawler (2014)

Jake Gyllenhaal once again proved that he's one of the greatest actors in Hollywood right now with his performance as the unsettling Lou Bloom, who becomes a 'stringer' - someone who videos violent events in late-night Los Angeles to sell to local news channels.

The film was a moderate success in cinemas, but Gyllenhaal's "supremely creepy" performance was lauded, as well as first-time director Dan Gilroy praised for the stunning story which was nominated for a Best Original Screenplay Oscar.

The name, however, confused many - the practice of 'nightcrawling' isn't well-known and proved to be too vague to bring in cinemagoers

Not only that, mixed-up comic book fans were confused as to whether it was a movie about the blue-skinned, teleporting member of the X-Men.

2. The Constant Gardener (2005)

Gardening isn't a hobby that provides material for Hollywood films (illustrated by the comedy Greenfingers), so it was with great bemusement when The Constant Gardener hit screens.

Very loosely based on the real story of a British diplomat in Kenya (played by Ralph Fiennes), who tries to solve the murder of his wife, with a very minor character trait being his eager interest in gardening.

Another adaptation, this time of a John le Carré novel, whose name had already been decided, the political thriller - which critics hailed as 'near perfection' - was left with a name that sounds more like a long-running factual BBC series.

1. Cinderella Man (2005)

Is this a Disney fairytale about a man in glass loafers who meets the princess of his dreams? Nah, it's the true story of a 1930s heavyweight boxer.

Russell Crowe played Irish-American boxer James J. Braddock, a washed-up boxing contender who beats the odds to make an unexpected comeback to win the world heavyweight championship.

Crowe was praised for the depiction of Braddock, as was Ron Howard's direction; but the title - a nickname that was given to Braddock after his remarkable championship win - defied the film's violent and bloody subject matter.

 

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