Afraid that a rival studio would steal his idea before he could give the Titanic the epic treatment he believed it deserved, director James Cameron called it by the code name Planet Ice. In fact, while filming stars Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in Nova Scotia, Cameron claimed to be shooting footage of icebergs for a documentary.
According to IMDB.com, after the wild success of the first Harry Potter film, producers of the second installment, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, knew it would be tough to keep the project under wraps. Not wanting the Potter fandom to invade film locations and disrupt their work, the team decided to disguise the project with the bogus name Incident on 57th Street, which is also a 1973 Bruce Springsteen song.
To hide the filming of Return of the Jedi, the production team developed a fake horror movie called Blue Harvest. Crewmembers wore Blue Harvest t-shirts; all shipments were directed to the phony name; even letterhead was created with the name. The crew discovered that by disguising the film they were able to save money: locations and services bumped up their prices when the wildly successful Star Wars franchise was involved, but production costs stayed lower when Blue Harvest was involved.
Director John Hughes was considering Library Revolution and The Lunch Bunch before settling on The Breakfast Club, a nickname for detention at New Trier High School where the son of one of Hughes’ friends was enrolled.
If not for Steven Spielberg’s other project Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. may have never been made. While filming the Indiana Jones film, Spielberg developed a friendship with screenwriter Melissa Mathison, then girlfriend of Harrison Ford, and asked her to write a script about the imaginary alien he had created as a kid to keep him company during his parent’s divorce. She came back with a draft titled E.T. and Me. To prevent other producers from stealing his idea, he renamed the project A Boy’s Life while in production.
Director Christopher Nolan often uses his children's names in the working titles of his movies; he named The Dark Knight Rises in honor of his son Magnus. (The working title of The Dark Knight was Rory’s First Kiss, for his son Rory; Inception was called Oliver’s Arrow, for son Oliver.) Fans: Look out for any films with a working title that includes the name of Nolan's daughter Flora.
Studio execs decided to change the name of their reptilian thriller to Pacific Air Flight 121, in hopes that a more serious title would transform the film from a campy classic to a more serious action thriller, but they were met with resistance—big time. Lead actor Samuel L. Jackson threatened to leave the project, claiming in an interview that the title was “the only reason I took the job." Not wanting to lose their star, the studio quickly reverted to the original title.
The fuzzy working title was one of many tricks used to keep details of the film under wraps—reports also say that cast members donned black capes to disguise their costumes. This is not the first time Marvel has tried to trick fans with obscure working titles. Captain America: The First Avenger went by the name Frostbite, while its sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier, set to be released in 2014, is rumored to have the working title Freezer Burn.
This iconic ‘70s disco flick was almost titled Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night after the New York Magazine article that inspired the film. The title was shortened to Saturday Night until a last minute addition to the soundtrack, the Bee Gees “Night Fever," spurred the studio to rename the film Saturday Night Fever.