How important is a movie title when it comes to attracting an audience?


It’s a question Terry O’Reilly, host of History Television’s new show What’s In a Name?, can answer. “Movies titles are an art unto themselves. With so much riding on an opening weekend (which will determine the length of the movie’s run) a title does almost all of the heavy-lifting. It can even override a trailer in persuading someone to buy a ticket,” says O’Reilly, a brand expert, radio host, and best-selling author.


The Good

“One of my favourite titles of all time is Back To The Future. It was so clever, and so perfect for that story. It contains some friction, which is its magic — how can someone go ‘back’ to the future?

“But that was exactly the storyline. A remarkable feat in only four words.”


The Bad

“One of my least favourite titles was for a film I loved — The Shawshank Redemption. I avoided this movie for ages, as I got no ‘feeling’ from the title. I didn’t know how to classify it. It was meaningless, and not intriguing. I have often wondered if that title mowed down the opening weekend sales. But the ultimate irony is that it’s a fantastic movie.”

What’s in a Name? premieres Monday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on History Television. The series follows Canadians looking to find a one-of-a-kind, catchy and marketable name for everything from a rock band to a designer perfume to a soon-to-be born baby.