Titles are tricky things, as anyone who’s ever tried to write, make or market a movie will tell you. Want to know one of the (many) reasons that James L. Brooks‘ “How Do You Know” became a flop of near-legendary proportions? Well, the fact that no one could remember what the damn thing was called certainly didn’t help. At the same time, the right level of on-the-nose titling can make a film an instant cult hit, and internet meme; think “Hot Tub Time Machine” and “Snakes On A Plane.”
The man who helmed the latter, David Ellis (also behind a couple of “Final Destination” sequels and the Chris Evans vehicle “Cellular“) has another film on the way, a B-movie for Relativity Media formerly known as “Shark Night 3D,” but currently referred to as “Untitled 3D Shark Thriller.” Seemingly, he’s hoping that the does-what-it-says-on-the-tin approach to titling can work second time around, as Vulture reports that Ellis is keen for the film to be released as… “Untitled 3D Shark Thriller.”
Ellis relates “I hated the original title too, so at our our production meetings, I made everyone on the crew come up with names — “Chums,” “Fins,” “Terror on the Lake” — but they all seemed kind of cheesy. And so until I hear a better name, I like the one we’ve got right now: ‘Untitled 3D Shark Thriller.’ The title says everything you need to know: ‘We’ve got sharks.’ ‘It’s in 3D.’ and ‘It’s a thriller.'”
Ellis isn’t the first to try this approach: Cameron Crowe originally wanted “Almost Famous” to be released as “Untitled” — and indeed, that name is on the DVD director’s cut of the film. There was also the recent Adam Goldberg art world flick “(Untitled)” which used its title as a riff on seemingly endless nameless pieces by contemporary artists. It’s certainly a move that raises a smile, and suggests some no-frills exploitation fare along the lines of last year’s “Piranha 3D.” Vulture quotes an unnamed marketing executive at a rival studio who begrudgingly admits that the title could pay off: “I don’t think anything matters anymore, so why not “Untitled 3D Shark Thriller.”
Having said that, neither “Snakes On A Plane” nor “Hot Tub Time Machine” could convert the viral phenomenon of their titles into decent box office grosses, and should Relativity release the picture as “Untitled 3D Shark Thriller,” which seems even more inside baseball than those, there’s no guarantee that it’ll help the film’s cause.
Whether or not Ellis gets his way (and we imagine it’s unlikely), “Untitled 3D Shark Thriller,” which stars a ‘who-they?’ cast including Sara Paxton, Chris Carmack, Katharine McPhee, Joel Moore and Chris Zylka, hits theaters on September 14th.