Last week I broke one of my cardinal rules and engaged in a debate on the internet. Specifically, I inserted myself into a conversation happening around movie names, offering my opinions on the title of the movie Long Shot as opposed to its original title, Flarsky.
I offered a few suggestions for titles that might be better than Long Shot, suggestions writer Guy Lodge still found lacking.
My ideas weren’t all that great, I admit. But they were just the first things that occurred to me with about five minutes of thinking.
The overall point I was trying to make is that Long Shot is a terrible title that tells you nothing about the movie itself, offering the audience no brand identity for the movie that they can latch on to.
Is it about gambling? Is it about a relationship? Is it about filmmaking? No idea. Search “long shot” title matches on IMDb and there are movies of the same name about all these and more subjects.
Flarsky isn’t perfect, of course. As Lodge points out in the conversation it focuses only on the male character, leaving the woman out of the spotlight. But at least it’s *about* something, unlike so many of the movies with titles like “School Fight,” “Date Night” and others that describe a setting instead of offering any insight into the story or action.
The original title at least makes an impression. It’s something you are less likely to forget entirely seven minutes after hearing it.
With movie after movie clocking “disappointing” or “underwhelming” box-office results, it would seem to make sense that Hollywood would want to get a bit more aggressive with the branding of its non-franchise films. Offering something wholly meaningless doesn’t seem to be working, as audiences are responding appropriately and passing right by them.
On the other hand, Netflix seems to get the need to more effectively create brand identities for its original films. The Perfection, Outlaw King, Bird Box, Gerald’s Game and others are at the very least memorable and create an impression. The recent Murder Mystery is a step in the wrong direction, but if that’s the worst thing you’re saying about an Adam Sandler movie things are more or less alright.
I haven’t seen Long Shot yet so can’t speak as to whether there are other story elements that could have been pulled out to craft a better title. I suspect there are.
For the time being it seems Hollywood is intent on stripping away any personality from these movies that have no audience brand recognition to begin with, further putting them at a disadvantage when they’re up against franchises with decades of history the audience easily associates with the new release.