What Characteristics Do Memorable Movie Titles Share?

Names are important in business, and nowhere is this more evident than in the film industry, where a great title – think Atomic Blonde, Eyes Wide Shut, or Pulp Fiction – is capable of intriguing an audience, perhaps enough to watch a trailer and buy their theater ticket. The movie industry is, after all, a business like any other: the success of films depend greatly on the extent to which marketers are able to build a strong brand – something that 77% of marketing teams feel is crucial to success. What characteristics do some of the most successful movies in history have in common?

Expressing Genre And Essence

As is the case with business naming, creating a title for a movie should do more than spark curiosity in an audience. It should also establish a unique identity, appeal to its target market, and express the essence of the product or film. Films marketed to global audiences also need to be linguistically sensitive so that translation is either unnecessary or easily achieved without the motive title being offensive or unintentionally humorous. Examples of movie titles that give a good hint of tone, style and genre, include Call Me By Your Name, Fatal Attraction, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The latter in particular conjures up the somewhat trippy, surreal nature of this foray into the realms of memory, dreams and imagination.

Finding Inspiration In Dates And Places

One of the most effective ways to boost a film title’s impact is to base it around key settings, events or dates. Just a few catchy titles mentioning dates include 1984 (taken, of course, from George Orwell’s iconic novel) and 1917 (a war film about two soldiers assigned to deliver a message that will stop over one thousand men dying). Gallipoli, meanwhile, reminds audiences about one event: the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey during World War One. Many films are built around trends, events or ambiences in specific locations – think Woody Allen’s Manhattan, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, or Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge. Places which are unfamiliar yet catchy inspire curiosity, research, and once again, a glance at the trailer.

Unforgettable Characters

When a film’s essence is based around one or more characters (protagonists or antagonists), then naming a film after them makes sense – think Guardians of the Galaxy, Justice League, or The Joker. It helps when these characters are already well known outside the film universe, but notoriety isn’t always essential. One blockbuster comedy, Ted (centered on a lewd and crude talking teddy bear) ironically encapsulated the unexpected personality of this non-child-friendly stuffed toy. If you want to know more about where the teddy bear actually came from and why it is named that way, check out our article titled “Learn About the Ideal Toy Company, the Inventor of the Teddy Bear.” Many clever titles reveal newly created fictional characters – think Baby Driver or Creed – the latter may conjure up Rocky films from the 80s for fans of legendary character Apollo Creed, but the name, which bears such a meaningful definition, stands excellently on its own as well.

Naming films can be a deal maker or breaker in Hollywood. Most successful films ace this task thanks to research, brainstorming and authenticity. Great films titles usually give audiences an excellent inkling of the genre and feel of films, but also intrigue them enough to discover more about aspects such as dates, places and people.