Movie Title Ideas:
3 Ways to Come Up With Cooler Titles.

The complete guide on how to make your screenplay title page stand out from the pack.

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by Script Reader Pro in Concept, Story and Theme
November 22, 2018 66 comments
movie title ideas

Movie title ideas: 3 ways to come up with the coolest titles ever. 

Movie title ideas matter. A lot.

While you’ve probably heard a lot about how the first page of your story is the most important when it comes to first impressions—it’s not. It’s actually the title.

When your script lands on the desk of someone important—like a manager, producer or exec—the very first impression they form of your script is from the title.

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Here are a few examples of bad screenplay titles.

• Too close to an existing movie title. Kill Phil, Naughty Santa, While You Were Napping

• Too complicated/strange. Puranas and Itihasas, Portmanteau Antlers, The Attenuation Dispersion Code

• Too simple. Hope, Mist, Conflict

Movie titles like these give the reader an immediate signal that you’re not sure what you’re doing—before they’ve even had a chance to read the first page of your script.

Great writers choose great movie titles. And needless to say, your script’s title needs to be pretty great. Not just good. Not just okay. But great.

How do you come up with great movie title ideas?

In this post we’re going to break down how to write a movie title for a screenplay into six main areas:

1. Coming up with a great movie title ideas by nailing the story’s essence

2. Generating movie title ideas method #1: Characters

3. Generating movie title ideas method #2: Locations

4. Generating movie title ideas method #3: Situations or feelings

5. How to find out if your screenplay title idea is any good

6. Screenplay title page format best practices

So let’s dive on in.

Coming up with great movie title ideas by nailing the story’s essence. 

A good way into coming up with a great movie title is to consider what the core essence of your story is. What’s it really about? What’s the core conflict? What’s the overall emotion you want to convey in your script’s title?

For example, here are some famous movie titles that perfectly fit the material:

 Blade Runner

 Citizen Kane

 Eyes Wide Shut

 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

 It’s a Wonderful Life


 Pulp Fiction

 Rear Window

 Some Like It Hot

 The Truman Show

In each of these cases, we get a sense of genre and of the movie’s sensibility because the movie title speaks to the core essence of what it’s about. The title signals what’s at the heart of the movie and what makes it stand out from the pack.

3 screenplay title templates. 

When trying to come up with a name for your screenplay, you want to make sure it similarly conveys the core essence of the story.

A good way to do this is to consider a potential screenplay title from three different angles:



Situations or feelings

Yes, some movies have great titles that don’t fall within these parameters—Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for example—but we’ll discuss these later in the post.

For now, sticking to one of the three screenplay title templates above is a good starting point.

Let’s take a look at each one in more detail. (We’ll be focusing mainly on recent movies in order to give you an up-to-date idea of what makes a great movie title.)

Generating movie title ideas method #1: characters.

The first option is to simply name your script after the protagonist, antagonist or stakes character or some variation on who they are or what they’re about.

Here’s a list of some of the best movie titles using this formula.

1. Atomic Blonde. Lorraine is the protagonist—the subject of the title—but it also encapsulates her style, personality and forcefulness. Probably a better title than the actual movie.

2. Baby Driver. This movie title encapsulates Baby’s name and occupation in a nice play on words.

3. Black Panther. Hard to imagine this movie having any other previous working titles. This just sums it up to a tee.

4. Creed. Short and punchy—pun intended.

5. The Disaster Artist. Here’s an example of naming the movie after the antagonist rather than the protagonist. Tommy Wiseau is the heart and soul of this film, not Greg.

6. Guardians of the Galaxy. This movie title focuses on a team rather than just a single character and screams sci-fi, action and adventure. Just what the movie delivers.

7. The Hateful Eight. Another title about a group of characters and another great use of rhyme. This is extremely effective and is used in a lot of the best movie titles.

8. Neon Demon. Two words that perfectly encapsulate the cool, detached persona of the protagonist and the horror of the movie.

9. The Revenant. The easy option would have been to call this movie The Frontiersman, but who is Hugh Glass really? Here’s the dictionary definition of revenant: “One that returns after death or a long absence.” That’s how to elevate an ordinary movie title to a great one.

10. Ted. John’s the protagonist, sure, but the heart of this film lies in its antagonist—a talking teddy bear. That’s the hook and this title says it upfront.

Generating movie title ideas method #2: location.

An equally effective option is to name your screenplay after a prominent location in the story. These can be either general or specific as well as the real names of places or made-up titles given to places.

Here are some popular examples from recent movies.

1. 10 Cloverfield Lane. The title of the original spec script one which this film was based was The Cellar—again, focusing on the location, but without the allusion to the Cloverfield franchise.

2. 21 Jump Street. If you’re adapting a script from existing material, as in this case, the process of coming up with a cool movie title is often taken out of your hands. Nevertheless, this is a great example of an eye-catching use of story setting to give a sense of genre.

3. Bridge of Spies. Rather than simply extract the name of the script’s main location, another good option is to zero in on a place where something significant happens—and give it a name.

4. Brooklyn. This title gets even more specific than Woody Allen’s Manhattan. It’s simple and does the job of evoking this part of the city as an extra character in the movie.

5. Dunkirk. Three perspectives of the Dunkirk evacuation told from the land, sea and air, all in one simple title.

6. Hacksaw Ridge. Another war movie title, this time one that zeroes in on the location of the core conflict in the movie: the 77th Infantry Division’s goal of securing Hacksaw Ridge.

7. La La Land. A more melodic, memorable and catchy way of describing the city that provides the setting for Mia and Sebastian’s romance and musical dreams.

8. Manchester by the Sea. A beautifully simple yet lyrical title that hints at the sadness of the movie’s main characters.

9. The Place Beyond the Pines. This title is derived from the English meaning of the Native American word “Schenectady”—which roughly translates as “place beyond the pine plains.”

10. Room. A deliberately simple, one-word title that incorporates not only the location of the movie but its core conflict. Unusually, the title survived the adaptation from the book of the same name on its way to the big screen.

best screenplays to read

Generating movie title ideas method #3: situations or feelings. 

Finally, you may want to get to the core of your movie’s essence through the characters’ feelings or the situation they find themselves in. These type of movie titles offer much more scope in which to intrigue the reader.

Here are some examples. 

1. The Beguiled. Is “the beguiled” Corporal McBurney? Or Miss Martha and her daughters? Or all of them? The original movie was also called The Beguiled, but the novel on which it was based was named, A Painted Devil.

2. Darkest Hour. Not much room for intrigue here as the story is based on the true-life events surrounding Churchill’s refusal to make peace with Hitler before the start of World War 2. A fantastic summation of conflict, feeling and situation, nonetheless.

3. Don’t Breathe. Three teenagers break into a blind Gulf War veteran’s home intent on robbing him and inadvertently become his prey. What’s the perfect phrase that encapsulates their situation as they creep around the house trying not to make a sound? “Don’t breathe.”

4.  I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore. The general advice when it comes to creating a great screenplay title is to keep it short. But here’s an example of how to break the rules to give a great sense of this quirky protagonist’s state of mind.

5. The Edge of Seventeen. This title expertly hints at the anxiety felt by the teenage protagonist, Nadine. She’s suicidal, and the use of the phrase “the edge” conjures up images of the edge of a cliff, or the edge of madness—while juxtaposing them with her age.

6. Game Night. A classic trope for comedy movie titles is employed here: describing a single event or situation in two short words. These kinds of screenplay titles often write themselves as they’re based on high concepts: Date Night, Due Date, Knocked Up, and so on.

7. Get Out. Much like Don’t Breathe, this title acts as a warning to the protagonist and is an intriguing call to read the script and find out just who wants to get out of what situation.

8. It Comes at Night. The horror genre is unmistakably conjured up with this mysterious title—one that also lets the reader know the protagonist is going to be placed in a terrifying situation.

9. Trainwreck. A wonderful metaphor here for Amy’s life in general as she shuns commitment in favor of drinking too much and sleeping around well past her college days.

10. Wild. A short and clever movie title with a clear double-meaning which nods at both Cheryl’s past and her present as she treks through the wilderness on her way to redemption.

Great movie titles that break the mold. 

Of course, not every movie title neatly fits into one of these three boxes. You’re welcome to come up with whatever title you like and break the mold.

Here are some unusual and famous movie titles that manage to pull this off. 

 Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia

 Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

 Good Will Hunting

 The Men Who Stare at Goats

 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

 Requiem for a Dream

 The Shape of Water

 The Silence of the Lambs

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

If you want to create a solid screenplay title, though, you can’t go far wrong by sticking with one of the three screenplay title templates outlined earlier—a location, the main characters(s) or their situation or feelings.

How to find out if your movie title ideas are any good. 

Bear in mind that if your screenplay gets bought and produced, the title may be changed down the road before it hits the big screen. However, this doesn’t mean you should just make do with any old script title that comes along.

Movie title ideas should be rigorously tested before deciding on a final one, and here’s an outline of how to do it.

Brainstorm screenplay title ideas. 

Come up with as many movie title ideas as possible. Try to write a list of at least ten for your screenplay

Edit the list down to your top three screenplay titles. Make sure you have a character-based, a location-based and a situation/feelings-based idea in there if possible.

Get Feedback on Your Movie Title Ideas

Get feedback from people you know. Show the three titles to your writer friends, acquaintances, family members, etc. and get them to rank them in order of preference. Give them the logline too, so they know what it’s about

Get feedback from people you don’t know. Repeat the exercise with strangers in order to get an impartial opinion on their favorite titles. Post the titles to websites like Stage32 and other screenwriting forums

Ask professional readers. If you get script coverage on the completed screenplay, make a point of asking if the reader can give you a note on the title. We’d be happy to do this if you purchase one of our script coverage services.

This exercise will give you a solid idea of which movie script ideas are working and which aren’t. And from here it’s just a question of refining your titles and finally picking the very best one for your script.

A note on “working titles.”

Don’t send out your script to anywhere important like a manager, exec or producer with the caveat “working title.”

You need to own the screenplay title you pick, but adding “Working Title” in brackets gives the impression it’s a work in progress—like you haven’t yet formed a solid idea of what the story’s actually about.

Instead, take your time and make sure you come up with a rocking movie title first, and then send it out.

Screenplay title page format: best practices. 

Some people insist the script title should always be written in caps, or always underscored and so on. In actual fact, no one cares. It doesn’t matter whether you write the title in uppercase or lowercase, or whether you underscore it or not, or wrap it in quotation marks or not.

All that matters is that it’s centered 4.0 inches from the top of the page and, like the rest of the screenplay, is written in Courier 12-point.

Movie title punctuation. 

The whole meaning of a screenplay title can change with the stroke of a punctuation mark, so make sure it’s grammatically correct.

For example, take the imaginary screenplay title, Come Back Clarity. And let’s say in the script the antagonist is named Clarity, and the protagonist wants her back. This means the title needs a direct address comma in place to make it: Come Back, Clarity.

Without the comma, the phrase could also mean the protagonist is only seeking clarity. Or even a comeback and needs some clarity in order to achieve it.

Always make sure your movie title punctuation is correct. And always use direct address commas.

Formatting the name(s) on a script title page. 

Your name should be spaced four lines below the screenplay title. Again, don’t get too hung up on the finer details. You can write: “written by” or just “by” but this should be in lowercase.

If you co-wrote the script, simply add an ampersand (&) in-between your names. (Putting “and” instead indicates one of the writers was brought in to do a rewrite on the other’s work.)

If the script is based on someone else’s original material, simply write “based on the novel by” or “based on the stage play by,” four lines underneath your own name and in the same style.

Formatting contact details. 

Keep things simple by adding just your email address in the bottom left or right-hand corner of the title page. Some screenwriting software programs automatically populate the contact details in the bottom lefthand corner, while other professional writers and software add it to the bottom right. It really doesn’t matter too much.

You can also add your address and phone number if you wish. (Be aware that if you live in, say, Maryland, Montreal or Munich, but are pitching the script to companies based in Los Angeles, you’re immediately giving away your location, which could potentially prejudice them in some way.)

If you have an attorney, agent or manager, add their details here instead of your own.

Screenplay title page template. 

Your finished title page should look something like the one below:

screenplay cover
Don’t repeat the same mistakes many screenwriters make by including dates, draft numbers or copyright information on your screenplay title page. Leave these for when you’re writing under contract for a studio or production company.

Including copyright information on a spec script title page just looks paranoid. And dates and draft numbers could well elicit the response: “She’s been working on this thing since 2010?”

Stick to this script title page template and avoid adding artwork, photos, social media information, fancy fonts or any design at all in order to give your screenplay the best first impression possible.

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3 Ways to come up with a cool screenplay title: conclusion. 

Take care when picking a screenplay title. As a screenwriter, you’re a connoisseur of words and so whatever title you pick should reflect this. It should give a taste of the conflict, genre and essence of the story the reader will find in the script.

It should also ideally display a sense of your way with words. Screenplay titles are generally bold, sharp, witty and (usually) short summations of the entire movie: The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, Good Time, etc. These are the kind of movie titles you should aspire to create.

Also be sure to create a clean and perfectly formatted script title page. Don’t put readers off by including anything that doesn’t need to be on there. We hope this post has helped you in coming up with a screenplay title that serves the interests of the story and gives a great first impression.


In your opinion, what are some of the best movie titles out there? What makes them great? How do you come up with a rocking screenplay title? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Liked this post? Read more on how to write a screenplay…

Create a Professional Screenplay Title Page in 3 Steps

How to Write a Script Outline That Will Save You Months of Rewrites

How to Write a Screenplay That’s Unlike Any Other in 6 Steps

[© Photo credits: / Pexels]

  1. Liz B. says:

    There’s a lot of practical guidance here. Many thanks!

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Glad you liked it, thanks Liz!

  2. Nathaniel Ejeta says:

    Thanks for the information you shared about the best movies. I appreciate your efforts and taking the time and sharing this content.

  3. Michael Nowotarski says:

    From.michael nowotarski San fernando I country movies sample title country lovers rated R

  4. Michael Nowotarski says:

    From Michael nowotarski I want to get payed on movie titles I was in movies for real hit list with jan Michael Vincent big man on campus Cindy Williams double revenge. I do.know titles. I also know stars where personal.friends bob hope telly salvalas client eastwood Cindy Williams

  5. Charlette C Stevens says:

    Thak you

  6. Master the blaster says:

    I want an school movie

  7. HOSSAN says:

    I’m writing a movie, and I am a beginner, can you help me to achieve my goals.
    What’s app Number please!

  8. Ross Mitchell says:

    I still know what you did last summer is a good movie title it sets up the sequel excellent to the first movie what sequels are ment to do

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Excellent point – thanks, Ross!

  9. rafael e reyes says:

    I have a title for a movie
    Its called

  10. rafael e reyes says:

    I have a movie title idea
    Its called “Ricky weak”
    It’s about a boy who struggles in life

  11. Kenny says:

    Really helpful

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks, Kenny!

  12. Jonathan says:

    I think movie titles are incredibly important and I agree there’s a sense of laziness — like how dedicated is this writer, truly? — if you have a really mundane title. I think you kind of know it when you see it, because you’ll find yourself before that going, “Yeah… that’s pretty good. That could work.” NOPE. If that’s your thought, that isn’t the one. It needs to be a light bulb moment, more like, “Wow! I got it!” Not “that could work.”

    I also think it’s important to reframe your title as far as what has meaning to someone who knows virtually nothing or nothing about your story. Sure, that isn’t always possible, like with Hacksaw Ridge we’re going to find out why that ridge is important. But I think it can hurt a film even just browsing the completed movies on a streaming service if the title is “Brown’s Book,” now I need the poster art to tell me what this thing might be about, what’s the genre, etc. If it was “Brown’s Book of Demons” I know it’s 99% a horror film, or “Brown’s Little Book of Love,” probably a romantic comedy. I was working on the title to a screenplay about an obscure but mysterious book, for instance, and if I put that in the title, it won’t have any value for the marketing department if it ever was made into a film, it wouldn’t mean anything to the reader, and it doesn’t communicate anything to 99% of people. In the story, though, this mysterious book holds the key to finding the Holy Grail, which everyone does know. So it became “Cipher to the Grail.”

  13. Bliss molato says:

    lost in game
    what do think of these

  14. Sixtus says:

    Thanks alot
    I must say i found this helpful

    1. Script Reader Pro says:


  15. Elliot says:

    This is really going to help me come up with better movie titles — thanks!!

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks, Elliot, that’s great to hear!

  16. Eduardo Ramirez says:

    How many titles does Tarantino come up with before deciding on the right one?

  17. Ericka says:

    Do you have a service that critics movie title ideas?

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      We don’t, Ericka, but the script title does receive a grade in our Ratings Grid at the end of our coverage.

  18. Fateeh says:

    First Order Knight
    Order of the First Knight
    The First Knight

    Tell me what you think of these.

  19. Brian Z says:

    Thanks for this script titles have always been a weak spot

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Glad it helped, Brian!

  20. Gichuki says:

    Great, thanks.

  21. Donny says:

    Where can I find ur phone no? I need to speak to one of your readers about my TV spec.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      You can book a consultancy call here. Cheers!

  22. Elizabeth Brunard says:

    I tried your method and it works quite well for me. Thank You.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Glad to hear it, Elizabeth!

  23. Antony says:

    Thanks for the terrific post, this will help me coming up with better movie title ideas for sure.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Glad it helped, Antony!

  24. jamie hollins says:

    I like your website however you have to check the facts on quite a few of your posts. For example I always leave coming up with movie title ideas until after I’ve finished a draft of the script. Its only then can I know what the title might be.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      We’re not saying this is the one and only set way of doing things – pretty much like on all of our posts. There are no real “rules” when it comes to screenwriting.

  25. Sherry Hewitt says:

    Do you offer a service to writers to come up with movie titles? Awesome site! Keep it up!

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks, Sherry! No, we don’t offer that service, sorry.

  26. Dina Dominique says:

    This is a great web site for writers.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks so much, Dina!

  27. Marcella Olin says:

    Just discovered script reader pro and loving this content. Greetings from Portland, Oregon!

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Welcome aboard, Marcella!

  28. Ridley Fitzgerald says:

    I love learning about making movies. The title is really important for any work of creativity, so this advice is great. It makes sense that you want something original and not too close to something else.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks, Ridley, glad you found it helpful.

  29. erwin dotson says:

    Is there a data base of movie titles where I can look up if mine has been used or not?

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      IMDb is the best resource.

  30. Belinda Traub says:

    I get what you mean about movie titles. They’re more important than I’d really thought. Appreciate it for posting.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks, Belinda!

  31. Jeremy says:

    Great info! It’s nice to know how writers and producers in Hollywood come up with their movie title ideas.

  32. Michael says:

    Good titles:
    Lethal Weapon

  33. Sydney F says:

    Best article I’ve seen on writing movie titles in a while. Short and sweet.

  34. Philip says:

    Not a great movie title: ‘I Still Know What You Did Last Summer’

  35. Beth says:

    Amazing post on creating script titles! There’s a plethora of information on screenwriting but I find your posts to be consistently on the money.

  36. April K. says:

    Thanks to the article I changed points of focus. I realized that my script is more place focused than I thought initially and that should be reflected in the movie title. Cheers!

  37. Suzette says:

    I use short song lyrics as titles for my scripts

  38. Chris says:

    Stay away from dates in movie titles that are too close to the current year. For example, if the year 2020 is in your script’s title and it’s year 2021, it kind of lost its momentum.

  39. Adam says:

    Great movie title ideas! Just bookmarked and shared

  40. Rossario says:

    Eyes Wide Shut is the best movie title ever!

  41. Charles Frankhauser says:

    I found out how difficult it is to sell a screenplay but I always wanted to write one so I adapted my novel, Atlantic City Nazi, to a script, wrote a treatment and published it using character names in title: RC and RUBY Screenplay for folks that like to read screenplays. Now when I watch TV I time other scenes for the fun of it. Charles

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Good move, Charles!

  42. Rashid Sami says:

    Much helpful.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Glad to hear it, thanks, Rashid.

  43. Vincent says:

    I write romantic comedies, and my unwritten rule for titles is to always make them two words long.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Good stuff, Vincent!

      1. Vincent says:

        Titles I’ve given finished scripts include “Stand Tall!” (a sweet-natured rom-com spin on “giant woman” movies) and “Fugitive Sweetheart” (30 years later, high school classmates run afoul of the witness protection program). I’m close to completing “Screen Time” (think “Back to the Future” meets “Singin’ in the Rain”).

  44. Eric Davis says:

    Just as I was stuck trying to comeup with a title for my comedy. Thanks for this.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks, Eric.

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