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What’s In A Name?

One could make a case that spending big bucks for remake rights has some payoff, but a few filmmakers have recently started lifting just the titles of past pictures.

While the names of films are not protected by copyright laws, the studios can register film titles with the Motion Picture Assn. of America. So Paramount did not need the approval of the non-MPAA Island Pictures to release its Paul Newman sleeper “Nobody’s Fool,” even though Island used the title first for a 1986 romantic comedy starring Rosanna Arquette.

Buena Vista, on the other hand, had to procure Paramount’s permission to call their recent flop starring Ellen Barkin and Laurence Fishburne “Bad Company.” In 1972 Par released a Robert Benton-directed Civil War drama starring Jeff Bridges under the same name, but Paramount quickly gave their rival in Burbank the nod.

Columbia was also able to get the quick blessing of another MPAA member to entitle its upcoming Martin Lawrence pic “Bad Boys,” though Universal beat Col to the punch with its 1983 prison drama starring Sean Penn.

In any event, in the era of “Shawshanks” and “Hudsuckers” we can all be thankful for recycled titles.

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