Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Business of Titles

A new blog, penned by a Broadway producer, (hat tip to Adam,) looks at what he considers a terrible title: August: Osage County:

So there it is . . . arguably one of the worst titles since Flahooley
for one of the best plays of the last decade was the title of a poem that inspired the author.

This reminded of the origin of another title . . .

When I was negotiating for the rights to Somewhere In Time, I
discovered that the original title of the book was Bid Time Return, from a Shakespearean verse. I asked the author why he changed it when the book became a movie.

He looked at me like I had two heads and half a brain between

"That's a big change," I said, "why did you do it?"

"Simple. The movie company tested the title. It came
back 100% negative. So we had to come up with something else."

The something else turned out to be Somewhere In Time, which was
suggested by the wife of the Producer.

Should someone have tested August before it opened?

Is it appropriate for a Producer to meddle in such matters that are
"artistic" in nature?

Should Broadway be as calculating and "cold" as Hollywood?

Should playwright deals mimic screenwriter deals to allow us
greater control, even though at a greater financial cost?

These are all questions that you'll have to answer as you develop
your own style.

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