A lot can happen from the time a script is turned in to a studio to the time the film actually goes into production. Actors are cast and then recast, shooting locations may change, the script gets rewritten a bunch of times, and even the name of the damn movie might end up getting tweaked. Such is the case with this week’s The To Do List, which, subtly and playfully gets across the point that the movie is about a girl racking up sexual experiences before she leaves for college…but it’s not nearly as raunchy, or absolutely unmarketable, as the original title, The Hand Job.
Here are ten other movies that chickened out and went bland and familiar instead of evocative and bonkers.
Last Action Hero
This ultra-meta parody of extremely violent action movies was supposed to be called…Extremely Violent.
This ultra-meta parody of scary movies was supposed to be called…Scary Movie. (That title was then, ironically, used for a series of horror movie parody films.)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Yeah, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre definitely lets you know there are going to be gory, Texas-based chainsaw massacres, but it’s not as funny as Head Cheese.
It’s difficult to tell in some parts if this campy scorned lover movie is intentionally funny or not, but the original title reveals all: Oh No She Didn’t.
Jack Nicholson presented the Oscar for Best Picture at the 1993 Academy Awards to Unforgiven, and only he could have uttered its original title with aplomb: The Cut Whore Killings.
Annie Hall is sweet and romantic, sure, but it’s also the perfect microcosm of Woody Allen’s signature witty self-loathing. As such, he wanted to call it Anhedonia, which is the mental condition of being unable to feel happiness.
Saturday Night Fever
The name of the New York article the movie was based on (which later turned out to be largely fabricated) was used as a working title: The Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night, which is also the most New York-y sounding article title of all time.
There were going to call it The Last First Kiss, which is just terrible, but it does parlay that the film is about a matchmaker, I guess.
It Could Happen to You
This forgettable Nicolas Cage romantic comedy about a cop who splits a lottery ticket with a waitress in lieu of a tip and then they win was based on true events. The great working title reads like a headline, and surely would’ve made this film less forgettable: Cop Tips Waitress $2 Million.
And sometimes a green screenwriter simply has to give his movie a title that will get it seen by studios. And that’s what Adam Hertz did with American Pie, initially named Teenage Sex Comedy That Can Be Made For Under $10 Million That Your Reader Will Love But the Executive Will Hate.