Unlocking the Secrets of the Best and Worst Movie Titles in History

Apart from the bold statements by movie-titling consultants about the high importance of... movie-titling consultants ("When movie titles don't work, studios are leaving potential earnings on the table," says one), Josh Friedman's LA Times survey of movie titles lost, found, revised and re-revised yields a handful of worthwhile historical nuggets we'd never surmised. Like Annie Hall was originally named Anhedonia — "a term for the inability to experience pleasure" — and our beloved Beverly Hills Chihuahua was conceived with the weak-ass working title South of the Border. After the jump, the experts show off with the good and the bad, and we leave the ugly up to your fertile imaginations.

One of the most notorious examples of a missed opportunity because of an ill-chosen title was The Shawshank Redemption, the 1994 prison drama starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. The film was lauded by critics but landed with a thud at the box office. More recently, the Russell Crowe boxing saga Cinderella Man and the futuristic thriller Children of Men also failed to capitalize on strong reviews, in part because of titles widely seen as turn-offs. ...
The best titles, such as Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Pulp Fiction, are "sonorous," [consultant Seth] Lockhart says. "They just sound right — appealing to your emotions and your senses." Although an awkwardly named movie usually won't reach its box-office potential, Lockhart points to exceptions such as the Hugh Grant comedy Love, Actually, a hit despite a title he calls stilted.

For our money, no film was titled better than the Beastie Boys' Earth-shattering 2006 concert opus Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That (the first title in history to engage a semicolon), and we have yet to find any film with a worse title than Emily Hubley's recent festival darling The Toe Tactic. Awful. And of course, none of this takes into consideration anything in Ira Isaacs' fine scat-fetish oeuvre. Anyway, you can persuade us on either front — what is in a name, anyway?