Responding to the protests of director Fred Zinnemann and novelist Frederick Forsyth over the use of title “The Day of the Jackal” for its upcoming Bruce Willis/Richard Gere thriller (Daily Variety, Oct. 25), sources say Universal will release the film under new name “The Jackal.”
Last October Zinnemann and Forsyth issued written objections to the use of the 1973 film’s title. At that time, Zinnemann told Daily Variety that Universal had “hijacked the title,” an act he felt was tantamount to “destroying not only our film, but erasing its memory and the record of a small contribution to our heritage.”
Universal, Zinnemann and original film producer Sir John Woolf later reached an agreement that the studio would change the name of its upcoming project – but would use the word “jackal” in the new title. Thereafter the film had been known as the “Untitled Jackal Project” until last week, when sources said that “The Jackal” was the name chosen by the studio.
Zinnemann not pleased
Reached at his home in London, Zinnemann said he was not pleased with the new name.
“I was promised by Universal that I would be happy with their change of the ‘Jackal’ title,” said Zinnemann. “But I’m not happy.”
‘They are clever people’
“The ridiculous thing is that no one at the studio was able to come up with anything which would omit the word ‘Jackal.’ The legal department has had the last word. They are clever people, and there may be a bit more to this saga than mere incompetence.”
While this is a small alteration of the original title, the change puts competing “Jackal” projects into play. Triumph Films has a film on their release schedule titled “Jackal.” The film stars Aidan Quinn, Donald Sutherland and Ben Kingsley. This “Jackal” will be distributed by Sony and is scheduled for release in April.