Finding the right eponym is an age-old pursuit, as satirized in Shakespeare in Love (screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard):
I have a new one nearly done, and
better. The Massacre at Paris.
Romeo and Ethel the Pirate's Daughter.
(beat, sighs despondently)
Yes, I know.
It isn’t quite official, but I’m going to stop writing “tentatively titled” in front of Rain in the Mountains. Joel and Christine, who depart Washington state for New York City today, are now pretty sure this will be the title for festival release. Myself, I’m pretty sure that if a distributor picks up the movie, they’ll force a change to Gone Native or something else more than a little unsubtle. The logic is clear. Rain in the Mountains is closer to Snow Falling on Cedars and other dramatic titles. It doesn’t say comedy, much less family comedy with Native American themes. And the title is key to the sell, because it’s what people ask for at the box office or hunt for in the DVD aisle.
More than one screenwriting book makes the point that the most important words you’ll ever write will be the title. Short and punchy, they say. Jaws. Speed. I’d bet a nickel some marketer has been thinking all week that if The Constant Gardener was called The Pharma Conspiracy it would’ve done better b.o. (no matter how many people are already familiar with the book of the same name).
Joel has been keeping a long list of alternative titles. But none of them have rung true enough to replace the working title. So Rain in the Mountains stays. For now.