It might seem like a minor thing, but a film's title, even more than a song's title can, I believe can have a significant effect on the success of a film.
At the very least, I think real thought needs to be given to film titles because in some cases, all a potential viewer knows of the film IS the title.
Consider how our first and sometimes only exposure to a film is in just hearing or reading the title:
While in conversation with someone, the name of a film is mentioned.
A list of film names are viewed in movie listings on a smart phone.
What you want is a title that conjures up imagery in the mind well before someone even sees the film. You want it to intrigue people and make them curious about the film. You want a title that gets a positive response from people.
Certainly if a film gets good word of mouth or reviews, then really, the title isn't nearly as important because frequency forces a title into the public's memory. But with a film of limited release, if one is lucky enough to get a theatrical release or even an online or DVD release, having a memorable title can translate into interest when little is known of the film itself.
Consider a title when searching online. What if your title is identical to films made in the past, present, or future? What if someone who has an interest in renting or buying or streaming your film looks the up the title online and finds there are 30 or 40 films all with the same name?
How long do you think someone will spend trying to find the actual title they're looking for? Especially if all they have to go by is the title and a vague recommendation from someone?
Titles can be ambiguous or they can elicit a feeling or they can very succinctly sum up the essence of a film, but in my opinion, what they should be whenever possible is memorable, because really, the film's title is the first step in marketing the film.
A confusing title, a overused title, a title made up of very common words, a silly title that makes people reluctant to utter, or a completely forgettable title will handicap the potential success of a film when you're an unknown filmmaker trying to get the attention of film festival programmers and an audience.
Nothing is better than having a great title that's wholly unique and memorable because it also means online searches will deliver less garbage and more of your film in search results and it will stick in people's heads.
And besides, do you really want to give your baby a dumb name that it'll have to live with all its life?
©2011 Chris Santucci