A bad title can ruin a perfectly good movie. But worse than a bad title is when a film with a great name gets a title change for stupid reasons.
That’s exactly what seems to be happening to “The F Word,” a new Canadian romantic comedy starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan.
“The F Word,” the latest movie from “Fubar” and “Goon” director Michael Dowse, was extremely well received at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, and thanks to its strong showing, the film scored a U.S. distribution deal with CBS Films. Set in Toronto, “The F Word” centres on the relationship between a heartbroken young man named Wallace (Radcliffe) and Chantry (Kazan), a girl who also happens to be in a long-term relationship. The film’s title is a reference to the dreaded “friend zone” that the two characters find themselves in, and it's an absolutely perfect fit for the movie. However, U.S. distributor CBS Films apparently isn’t convinced by the title.
When "The F Word" was included TIFF’s prestigious Canada’s Top Ten screening series, it was revealed that the movie now has the extremely forgettable working title of “If You’re Lucky.” The new title is obviously an attempt by CBS to make the film more palatable for U.S. audiences, who apparently might be offended by the suggestive “F Word” title.
After the Canada’s Top Ten screening of the film last week, director Michael Dowse polled the audience about the “If You’re Lucky” title change during the Q&A. Those in attendance overwhelmingly favoured the movie’s former title, with some even going as far to boo and jeer the new name.
“The F Word” wouldn’t be the first movie to have a good title changed to something generic. There are countless examples of now classic movies that had far superior original titles. Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-winning Western “Unforgiven” originally went by the more apt “Whore’s Gold,” Wes Craven’s horror send-up “Scream” was originally called “Scary Movie,” and, much like “The F Word,” director Kevin Smith’s buddy cop flick “A Couple of Dicks” changed its title to the entirely appropriate “Cop Out” when the studio wouldn’t let him keep the original name.
“The F Word” is set for a May 14 release in the U.K. and will likely be released in North America (under one title or another) around the same time. With representatives of CBS Films in the audience at the Top Ten Screening, hopefully the message was clear: Don’t change the title! According to Dowse, the title is still very much up in the air.
Which do you prefer?