Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Hollywood’s latest craze: names.

One can generally find some reason for unusual trends in Hollywood. True, the notoriously unresponsive business is normally reacting to something that happened years previously. Recall, for instance, how the 1960s didn’t happen in Hollywood until 1971 or so. I …

Tue, Oct 23, 2012, 18:59

   
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One can generally find some reason for unusual trends in Hollywood. True, the notoriously unresponsive business is normally reacting to something that happened years previously. Recall, for instance, how the 1960s didn’t happen in Hollywood until 1971 or so. I cannot, however, understand why the film industry has suddenly fallen for the eponymous adaptation of bestselling thrillers. Exhibit One: At the end of the year, Lee Child, among the world’s bestselling authors, belatedly sees one of his Jack Reacher books translated to the big screen. Tom Cruise stars in Jack Reacher.  Exhibit Two: James Patterson, who sells even more books than Child, is back in the movie business with another adaptation — following two starring Morgan Freeman — of one of his Alex Cross novels. Tyler Perry stars in Alex Cross. Exhibit Three: In a year’s time, resurrecting a franchise that previously featured Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck, Kenneth Branagh addresses Tom Clancy’s master spy Jack Ryan. Chris Pine stars in Jack Ryan. Think of recent revivals such as Rocky Balboa or (as it was known in some territories) John Rambo and one must conclude that a movement is afoot.

Somewhere there is a memo that explains the thinking here. It seems improbable the studios are responding to the, ahem, massive success of John Carter. Could they really be reacting to the genuine hit that was Sherlock Holmes? That appears almost as unlikely. Holmes has a much greater recognition factor than those of Ryan, Cross and Reacher. Calling your film Sherlock Holmes is a little like calling your movie Jesus Christ. The internal bells ring deafeningly.

If the technique works it could have tedious consequences. Maybe, the next 007 film will be called James Bond. Perhaps Peter Jackson will title his second Hobbit film Bilbo Baggins. What’s so terribly wrong with proper titles? Oh well. I at least provides me with the meat for a trivia question in the weekly quiz.