Movie titles are essential; they are the first thing a potential viewer sees. If your movie title sucks, there’s a good chance you’ll lose a huge portion of your audience.
I know, we always say the logline is the first thing that gets seen, but that’s in terms of production companies, this is different. Your movie title is the shop window for your potential audience members; you want to entice them in – first impressions matter a lot.
In today’s article, we will look at some exceptional movie titles, and how you can write a screenplay title that pops off the page.
How do you come up with a cool movie title?
Coming up with movie titles can be difficult, you wonder whether it’s “Too vague” or “too simple”. Fear not. There are a few ways in which you can come up with a cool title for your screenplay.
There are many ways to come up with a cool movie title. Three of the best ways to develop a movie title are to use the main character, feelings or the location for inspiration.
These will help you develop a poignant and precise screenplay title that will be enough to grab anyone’s attention.
Let’s delve into this further.
Ideas for movie titles
Here are the three different ideas to base your latest movie title. To help you bring a screenplay title to life, with potency and excitement. This will have those film execs wanting to snap up your film treatment in no time.
Feelings are a brilliant method to help you sculpt your next film title. You can base the title of your film on the core feeling of your character.
Maybe look at the tipping point at the end of Act 1, how’s your character feeling? Are they feeling sad, anxious, happy? Whatever they are feeling use the strongest metaphor you can think of, the basics won’t cut it.
A great example of this is the movie “The Edge of Seventeen”. This uses the feeling of anxiety and how the protagonist of the movie feels. Nadine (The main Protagonist) is ridden with anxiety and is suicidal.
The title is a play on words with the edge of a cliff or the edge of something dangerous. Whilst it plays on Nadine’s age, and how she feels in an emotive manner.
Other notable movie titles:
- Get Out – This is a warning statement to the protagonist. You want to read on and find out why should they must get out. Get out of what? A situation? A place? I’d be the first to grab the script and get down to reading it.
- Trainwreck – A great metaphor to describe a person’s life as a “Mess” or a “Disaster”. This sums up the protagonist Amy’s life to a tee.
- Don’t Breathe – Teenagers break into a war veterans house and try not to get caught. Don’t breathe emphasises the fact they have to stay silent, so they’re not caught. To stop breathing is the most extreme way to stay silent.
The “character” option is to name your screenplay after the main protagonist or antagonist simply. This can be their exact name, play on their name, and even what the character stands for.
These are pretty simple but effective titles—for example, Ted. Ted is the main antagonist of the film, and the film relies on John the protagonist’s relationship with Ted, and Ted telling him what to do, usually for the wrong reasons.
Ted is short, precise and makes you want to know more about Ted, and who he is. A quick glance at the script and you’re hooked, wanting to know what shit Ted’s going to get them in.
Other notable movie titles:
- The Revenant – This one is brilliantly crafted. A revenant is “One that returns after death or a long absence.” A fantastic way to title your movie, brilliant stuff, just like the movie itself.
- Baby Driver – This is the main characters name and occupation. Leaving you with an interesting title, wondering “what the hell is a baby driver?”
- Creed – Straight to the point, crisp and include a pun, fantastic stuff.
Location, location, location. Nope, not the program but an exciting method to cooking up a storm in the screenplay title laboratory.
It’s an effective way to name your screenplay by using a prominent location in your movie. These can be specific or vague locations, and they don’t have to be real, just need to appear in your film.
A great example is Brooklyn, it’s specific, but evokes the emotion towards the location in the film – it almost gives it the feel as if it’s an added character.
Other notable movie titles:
- 21 Jump Street – We love this film, that’s why it’s here. It’s an interesting title that gives the setting and an element of the genre of the film.
- Manchester by the Sea – it gives a little sense into the film’s sadness, a well thought and intriguing movie title.
- Dunkirk – This is the location of a historical event. The name is polarising and delivers a potent touch. It’s told as three perspectives of the evacuation of Dunkirk, a poignant and moving title.
Terrible screenplay title examples
We’ve seen the great, let’s look at some examples of terrible screenplay titles, and why they suck so bad.
Example: Happy, sad, fun, water, rain.
These examples do sit in line with best practices, but they’re not quite there yet. They are a little vague and don’t pop out to the reader. You want to use a word with more substance if they’re happy they must be ecstatic.
It needs a little something extra, something that grabs the reader’s attention and makes them want to read/watch your movie.
Example: The multi-faceted Mr kelly goes to Hollywood for a bagel.
That’s mental. It’s incredibly confusing and uses too much within the sentence. Ultimately the reader is unsure of what the movie even is. If you are going for an over the top, zealous attempt, make sure to use some of the guidelines above to keep it punchy, but relevant.
Movie titles that have broken the mould.
Ohhhh controversial, you just said that something complicated would tank. You’ve contradicted yourself, technically yes I may have. But, there’s a huge difference between a genius title and a miss-mash of inaudible words.
Remember, as filmmakers, we love to break the rules and invent new ways to tell stories, and these are some of the movie titles that didn’t stick to the norm and worked out perfectly.
- Good Will Hunting – this was an incredible movie, and although it doesn’t stick to the formula, it incredibly well encapsulates the film.
- The Shape of Water – This was an incredible film, with an unusual title, but it killed it at the box office.
- They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? – All things you shouldn’t do with a movie title, but it did exceptionally well.
However, if you’re new to the film scene or still trying to break into the big time, definitely stick with the formula of using characters, locations or feelings. It will give you much more of a chance of your screenplay being scene, and therefore a better chance; it will be given the green light!
We hope today’s article was helpful and has inspired you to write fun, gripping and exciting movie titles. Let us know what you thought in the comments below.