A working title, sometimes called a production title or a tentative title, is the temporary title of a product or project used during its development, usually used in filmmaking, television production, video game development, or the creation of a novel or music album.
Working titles are used primarily for two reasons – the first being that an official title has not yet been decided upon, with the working title being used purely for identification purposes, and the second being a ruse to intentionally disguise the real nature of a project.
Examples of the former include the film Die Hard with a Vengeance, which was filmed under the title Die Hard: New York, and the James Bond films, which are commonly produced under numerical titles such as Bond 22, until an official title is announced.
Examples of the latter include Jurassic World, produced under Ebb Tide, Return of the Jedi, which was produced under the title Blue Harvest, 2009's Star Trek, which was produced under the title Corporate Headquarters, the Batman films Batman Returns, Batman Forever, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, which were produced under the titles Blinko, Dictel, The Intimidation Game, Rory's First Kiss, and Magnus Rex, respectively and Tenet, under the title Merry-Go-Round.
In some cases a working title may ultimately be used as the official title, as in the case of the films Cloverfield, Project X (2012), High School Musical, and Snakes on a Plane (at the insistence of leading man Samuel L. Jackson, who joked that he took the role for the working title alone, after he learned the title was going to be changed to Pacific Air Flight 121 upon release), the television shows The Mindy Project and The Cleveland Show, and video games Quake II, Spore, Silent Hill: Origins and Epic Mickey.
Projects in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have utilized working titles.
A title ruse is a practice by which a high-profile film or television series is given a fake working title to keep its production a secret, and to prevent price gouging by suppliers, casual theft and undesirable attention. Purchase orders from vendors, outdoor signs, videocassettes and DVD labels will use the cover title of a film. Notable examples of ruse titles used to conceal details of a production include Blue Harvest (ruse title for Return of the Jedi), How The Solar System Was Won (ruse title for 2001: A Space Odyssey), Planet Ice (ruse title for Titanic), and Greenbrier (ruse title for El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie).
- Nolan Fans article "The Dark Knight Rises As Magnus Rex"
- Radosh, Daniel (August 11, 2009). "While My Guitar Gently Beeps" – via NYTimes.com.
- Bloom, Jim, Production Supervisor; Ch. 9, bonus material disc of the 2004 Star Wars Trilogy DVD box set.
- Lambie, Ryan (2011-06-03). "The working titles of Hollywood blockbuster movies". Den of Geek. Retrieved 13 June 2021.
- Goldberg, Lesley (November 6, 2018). "'Breaking Bad' Movie From Creator Vince Gilligan in the Works". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on March 19, 2019. Retrieved July 27, 2021.