Is there a lack of originality in Hollywood? A spate of film titles would say yes

Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins in the official Poster Art from left, Chadwick Boseman in a scene from “Black Panther” and Rami Malek as rock icon Freddie Mercury in the film “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
(Walt Disney Pictures/Entertainment Pictures / Zuma Press / TNS / Marvel Studios/Disney via AP / Nick Delaney / Twentieth Century Fox)

Is Hollywood running out of movie titlesm or just trying to confuse everyone? Judging from a spate of similarly named films this year and next, the answer seems to be both. Consider a few examples:

“The Price of Everything,” “The Price of Fame”

“Free Solo,” “Solo: A Star Wars Story”


“Outlaw King,” “Philosopher King,” “The King”

“Overboard,” “Overlord”

“American Animals,” “We the Animals,” “Social Animals,” “Animal Crackers,” “Eating Animals” (all that’s missing is a 40th anniversary re-release of “National Lampoon’s Animal House”)

“Cold War,” “A Private War,” “Private Life”


“Early Man,” “First Man”

“Searching,” “Searching for Ingmar Bergman,” “In Search of Greatness”

“Mary Queen of Scots,” “Mary Poppins Returns”

At this rate, it may be hard to keep things straight on Oscars night. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway had nothing on this. Gone, apparently, are the days of distinctive, memorable movie titles like “Casablanca,” “Jaws,” “The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill but Came Down a Mountain” and “Dude, Where’s My Car?”

Instead, we’re subjected to a copycat cornucopia of “Dark” films, including “Dark Crimes,” “Dark Money,” “Dark River,” “Down a Dark Hall,” “The Dark,” “The Darkest Minds” and “In Darkness.”

Sadly, things are about to get worse. Coming soon to a theater near you are even more new movies that sound suspiciously like existing films.

First up, on the heels of “Black Panther” and “BlacKkKlansman” …


“Black Panther Klansman”

After ingesting a heart-of-stone-shaped herb, Donald Trump’s first African American Supreme Court nominee develops superhuman originalism, an uncanny ability to see any case as if it’s happening in 1789.

“There’s Something About Mary Poppins, Queen of Scots”

la-en-1206-film-showstopper-titles-poppins /// Illustration by Greg Houston / For The Times. Confusi
Roy Rivenburg takes a comic look at how studios might mix their tried-and-true metaphors in naming films in the future.
(Greg Houston / For The Times)

The tale of a magical but ruthless nanny who overthrows Elizabeth I with help from a kilt-wearing chimney sweep. The bagpipe-heavy soundtrack includes “A Spoonful of Sugar (Helps the Haggis Go Down)” and “Supercalifragilistic-Loch-Ness-alidocious.”

“Beautiful Boy Erased”

A transgender teen is defined out of existence by regulations that say a person’s sex is fixed at birth by whatever genitals he or she is born with.

“A Starship Trooper Is Born”

In the distant future, film critics go to war against the 1,000th remake of “A Star Is Born.” Possible sequel: “Throw ‘Mamma Mia’ from the Train.”

“Stir Crazy Rich Asians”

Returning to the U.S. from a friend’s wedding in Singapore, a wealthy young couple is thrown into jail by immigration agents. Comedy ensues.

“Ben-Hur Is Back”

la-en-1206-film-showstopper-titles-ben-hur /// Illustration by Greg Houston / For The Times. Confusi
Confusion reigns in awards season when film titles echo each other or use overlapping language. Roy Rivenburg takes a comic look at how studios might mix their tried-and-true metaphors in naming films in the future.
(Greg Houston / For The Times)

Julia Roberts stars as a suburban mom whose drug addict son comes home on Christmas Eve and hallucinates that he’s a Roman chariot racer.


“The Girl in Charlotte’s Web”

A Swedish hacker and a gifted spider devise an unusual plan to expose prominent #MeToo perpetrators.

“Bohemian Rhapsody in Blue”

Queen sings Gershwin.

“Hunter Killer Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Who Dumped Me”

A Russian double agent flees the U.S. in a stolen submarine after tampering with an election and breaking up with his American girlfriend. Based on novels by John le Carre, James Comey and Stormy Daniels.

“Searching for Ingmar Bergman, Bobby Fischer, Sugar Man, Debra Winger, Et Al”

Filmmakers unsuccessfully seek a non-hackneyed movie title.

Get our daily Envelope newsletter