In this weekend’s New York Times, there is an article about impossibly long film titles, something that does appear to be in style at the moment. This is evident in the marquee of your local multiplex, when titles such as How to Train Your Dragon, Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire, or Shrek 4 Forever After the Final Chapter in 3D (something like that). It gets even more complicated when you add a filmmaker’s name to the beginning (like Tyler Perry) or wind up adding words like “3D.” To make room for the creative titles, we’re forced to abbreviate. One place where these abbreviations is particularly noteworthy, is on VOD menus.
If you didn’t know, there’s a limited to the VOD menu space, and that limit is typically about 15 characters. So, if a title (including spaces, breaks, or punctuation) has over 15 characters, it will need to be shortened in some creative manner. The current crop of Hollywood releases on your “Movies On Demand” channel, will feature Edge of Darkeness listed as Edge/Darkness or It’s Complicated listed as It/Complicated. Not so bad. It becomes a bit more difficult in the arthouse world, though, perhaps because that’s a realm where titles are often crafted without much thought about marketability. Magnolia has pre-theatrically released George Romero’s Survival of the Dead on VOD, where it has the unfortunate billing of GR’s Survival/Dead. IFC’s No One Knows About Persian Cats has the practically confusing listing of No One/Persian Cats. IFC also has The Good, The Bad, and The Weird, which models its title after The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, listed on the VOD menu as Good/Bad, The Weird. This doesn’t really have the same impact. At the same time, films like Ondine or Vincere are listed without interruption.
Wanna see some major interruption? The Tribeca VOD offering, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, has the somewhat odd abbreviation Sex Drugs/Roll. Another Tribeca selection, the impossibly titled The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle, suffers the fate of having its billing with the even less coherent Immaculate/Dizzle. We suffer from it, too. FilmBuff has released Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans on VOD, and it’s filed on the menu as Bad Lt.: Port/Call. What are you gonna do? Not all titles can be like current VOD offerings 9, or Nine.