Question about Titles



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  • Question about Titles

    I have written a great script and for the longest time could not think of a title. Then today I thought of two really good ones and couldn't decide on which one to use. But I just took a look at the imdb site and both of my suggested titles were already taken.

    I thought I read somewhere that titles are not copyrighted. And if you look at the imdb you'll notice there are many movies that have the exact same title. So what I'd like to know is can you use the title of something already published? Or will I have to wreck my brain and try to think of something else? Thanks. Happy 4th!!


  • #2
    A rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet.

    "Unless you called it stink blossom."

    If the film that shares your title is well known, and in active distribution theatrically or on VHS/DVD, you may have a problem.

    Otherwise, I say go for it. In fact, if your film was to become a success, the little known independent or classic film with the same title as yours would see a boost in sales.

    That'll give your karma a shot in the arm.

    -- Gore

    (do a title search for Lost World)


    • #3
      Re: A rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet.

      It's been awhile since I've read the US Copyright site's stuff, but you are correct. Titles are not copyrightable. But Gore's advice is also correct in my opinion, so be careful and wise.

      Bill M.


      • #4
        But whatever you decide to do, don't wreck your brain trying to come up with a new title. Rack your brain all you want, but don't wreck it for crying out loud! :lol


        • #5
          Don't they register titles somewhere? It's not a copyright, but it's something, 'cause Airforce One I am pretty sure had a big title battle to keep the name.

          If it's a perfect title for the script and doesn't remind everyone of a dismal flop or compete with a big sales breaker, you should be okay. Should. I would still try to think up something different, but that could be just me. And if a studio buys the script and doesn't want to go that route, they will just change the title. They do that.


          • #6
            So, that's what's wrong with me. I was wrecking by brain instead of racking it. Or was I wracking it? Or whacking it? Or am I just wacko?



            • #7
              Registered Titles


              The MPAA has a title registration, but it really doesn't mean much unless you're an MPAA "member". The deal on AIR FORCE ONE was that a little company called Green Entertainment had registered the title, had a script in development, and had publically announced their film about a year before that Harrison Ford movie was a twinkle in a screenwriter's eye. These guys ended up scrapping their entire film when they "sold" the title to Beacon.

              But titles can not be copyrighted. So another film still could be made called AIR FORCE ONE (just not released through an MPAA member company). A couple of years ago we had dueling FATAL ATTRACTIONS - one with Douglas and Archer and one from a Canadaian company.

              If you are using the title of an existing film on purpose, in order to cash in on the existing film (like calling your film GONE WITH THE WIND), you can be sued. But it all comes down to your intent in using that title.

              The thing is - titles get changed all the time. If your title is something that has been used before but no one remembers it, you're okay. If your title is the same as a book on the NYT Best Seller's list... I'd change it.

              - WC (the artist formerly known as Bill)


              • #8

                There's been Jesus of Nazareth, The Story of Jesus, Jesus' Last Days, but also.... Jesus of Montreal.


                Similar title to other films, using the same major word of emphasis, but with one word changed that grabs you by the short and curlies and makes you ask, "What the f--k?"

                Damn good title. And a fine movie. Not only that, but Montreal is a relevent word to the plot and locale.

                My idea? Take whatever title you're fretting about, find one word that heavily applies to your script but no-one elses, and substitute that word in. Bingo. New title, accurate title, YOUR title, no worries.

                Just a thought.

                Best, kosk


                • #9

                  If you had to search the imdb to find out whether your titles had already been used, then you're probably safe. I'm sure a few years from now someone will make yet another "Bad Boys" or "Fallen Angel".

                  Maybe George Clooney will return to a THIRD series called "E.R."

                  Stranger Things Have Happened.

                  Hey...there's a title...

                  Your pal,