by Alex Trivilino
Paramount has been making some alterations to many of their upcoming features. After moving GI Joe 2 to next March only a month before its original release date of June 29, and sending Brad Pitt’s World War Z from this December to the summer of 2013, a small title change to One Shot—one of Pittsburgh’s most recently-shot films—may not seem all that dire. But the reasoning for the change could pay off financially in the near future.
What was once known as the simplistically titled One Shot has now become the equally-simplistic Jack Reacher. The Tom Cruise vehicle, based on a book series by Lee Child, follows an ex-Army cop who chases a sniper around Pittsburgh (or, an unnamed Indiana city, if we’re going by the book’s standards). But since Mission Impossible – GHOST PROTOCOL was actually really good, and since Tom Cruise will be asking audiences to pour some sugar on him in Rock of Ages this summer, the short man is back on the map, and that means more franchises! So, to avoid sequels taking the Ocean’s Eleven route with One Shot, Two Shots, Three Shots, Four, or annoying puns like Live Free or One Shot, Paramount thought that Jack Reacher served as a franchise-friendly name, should it perform successfully.
I had personally never heard of the Jack Reacher books, but I’m hoping that given how recent and apparently popular they are, the name will click with more audiences than, say, John Carter, which scrapped its full title John Carter from Mars. It was reported that “Mars” hadn’t been a good draw for success in the box office, with films like Mission to Mars or Mars Needs Moms, but the generic John Carter wasn’t quite an interesting or clear enough title to pull people in. For all I know, it could have swapped titles with the George Clooney legal thriller Michael Clayton and been the same sci-fi flop no one saw. Now the question begs, will Jack Reacher become the next household name, alongside James Bond, or Indiana Jones? Time, as per usual, will tell, but then again, Hollywood loves its protagonists to be named Jack.
This title change is fairly logical from a studio’s point of view. Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games, was just officially given the colon treatment as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Despite how many people have heard of the Hunger Games franchise, and certainly many of them know what Catching Fire is, Hollywood really wants to ensure everyone knows of its connection within the series. Hence the hyphens, colons, and words like ‘Saga,’ ‘Legend,’ or ‘Chronicle’ of blockbuster titles.
In terms of keeping the original titles at bay, it’s easy when your billion-dollar franchise is Harry Potter, which already used the boy wizard’s name in every installment title. Since Lord of the Rings was technically written as one large book, it deservingly used the colon subtitle method from the start. Then there’s the case of Pirates of the Caribbean or Transformers, which plop on generic pirate or space-themed clichéd subtitles, to remind you that this is, in fact, a sequel. Never mind the large Johnny Depp or Optimus Primes on the posters. They don’t call ’em franchises for nothing!
Though the title card in Raiders of the Lost Ark makes no mention of the Indiana Jones name, all of the home releases have changed the original title to Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark for the sake of franchise consistency. And if people didn’t know that Raiders was an Indy film, it certainly sounds like it’s for the best that the One Shot title has been switched. And, hopefully a Jack Reacher franchise will mean a franchise for Pittsburgh.
Jack Reacher, which also stars Rosamund Pike, Robert Duvall, Richard Jenkins, and Werner Herzog, will be released on December 21.
Or so they say.