Big pics come in from code

'Zodiac,' 'Rings' use false names during shooting

Thanks to an Internet rumor, producers of “Zodiac” last week saw a flurry of calls asking why the movie’s name had changed to “Chronicles.”

The answer: It hasn’t.

“Chronicles” was just the codename used during lensing of the pic, which Phoenix Pictures is producing for Warners and Paramount.

Codenames have become studio staple, designed to throw people off should they pass by a shooting location.

No one, for instance, is going to be intrigued by a sign for “Jamboree,” which was the working title for one of “The Lord of the Rings” pics.

Likewise, “Flora’s Wedding” — a.k.a. “Batman Begins” –wasn’t likely to draw gawkers. (Flora is the name of “Batman” director Chris Nolan‘s daughter.)

Over at the Paramount lot, the working title for “Mission: Impossible 3” was “Heyday.” Oliver Stone‘s upcoming 9/11 pic “World Trade Center” is codenamed “September.”

“You don’t want star-gazers and gawkers to happen onto your set,” says one studio exec. “If someone is driving by and sees some innocuous sign, they’ll probably keep on driving. But if they see a sign for ‘Star Wars: Episode III,’ people will do anything they can to try and have a brush with greatness.”

But the code names don’t always work, especially in the Internet age. “Red Sun,” the working title for “Superman Returns,” didn’t stay a secret very long among comicbook fans.

Maybe Hollywood needs another codebook.

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