Why the Edge of Tomorrow Director Hated the Title (And How It Changed for DVD)

Movies
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It was almost 10 years ago when Warner Bros. Pictures released Edge of Tomorrow, a sci-fi thriller from director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) that starred Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. Edge of Tomorrow was acclaimed at the time of its release as a more intelligent than usual, character-driven and kinetic sci-fi action movie. Yet the studio, producers, and director ended up fighting over the movie’s title before it was even released, a classic Hollywood marketing conundrum that may have hurt the film’s chances.

Cruise plays Maj. William Cage, a public relations officer for the military in a future where Earth is trying to stave off an alien invasion. Forced to accompany troops on a combat mission, Cage is killed—but finds himself reliving the same day over and over again afterward. Desperate to change the outcome, he realizes that his fate is tied to that of the heroic Sgt. Rita Vrataski (Blunt), as is the rest of humanity’s.

As with many films directed by Liman, Edge ran over budget and schedule, with the price tag ballooning to an estimated $178 million. The film grossed $370 million at the worldwide box office, with nearly three-quarters of its earnings coming overseas. Due to the budget and marketing costs, Edge probably did not break even—although it was not the financial catastrophe that some analysts had predicted either. Edge of Tomorrow has since become regarded as a kind of cult classic (relatively speaking with regards to a studio blockbuster of course), and one of the best of Tom Cruise’s multiple outings in the sci-fi genre. Talk of a sequel began shortly after the film’s release and has never really stopped, although what title that sequel would come out under remains an open question.

All You Need Is a (New) Name

Edge of Tomorrow was based on a novel called All You Need Is Kill by Japanese author Hiroshi Sakurazaka, and that was initially the title that the project was developed under. But in one of the more curious developments surrounding the movie, Edge of Tomorrow was retitled twice, although it’s kind of hard to determine whether the third name given to the film is now its official title or not.

The name was first changed from All You Need Is Kill to Edge of Tomorrow just as filming wrapped up in mid-2013. Warner Bros. Sue Kroll, the president of marketing at the time, told Variety that “negative chatter” about the word “kill” prompted the change, while producer Erwin Stoff explained to The Hollywood Reporter that “the word ‘kill’ in a title is very tricky in today’s world… We see it enough in kind of real newspaper headlines, and I don’t think we need to see it when we’re looking at a movie.”

Doug Liman didn’t care for the title All You Need Is Kill either, telling your very own Den of Geek in 2017 that “I was making a comedy, an action comedy, and All You Need Is Kill didn’t feel like it was the tone of the movie I had made.” But Liman also wasn’t enamored with Edge of Tomorrow either. Instead he had his own preferred title: Live Die Repeat. Despite his best efforts, however, the studio rejected that as well (maybe they thought “die” was just as problematic as “kill”?) and the film went into theaters as Edge of Tomorrow, although the tagline “Live Die Repeat” featured prominently in posters and advertising.

Live. Die. Retitle.

As mentioned earlier, Edge of Tomorrow was not a complete dud at the box office but not a sparkling hit either, and Doug Liman told Den of Geek where he thought the blame might partially lie at the time.

“When the film came out and people loved it but the box office wasn’t as good as it should have been, I really railed into the executive at Warner Bros who’d insisted that Edge of Tomorrow was the better title,” he recalled. He also added that he “committed the cardinal sin of telling somebody in Hollywood when they’re wrong.”

Even though Liman said he had to eventually apologize to that exec for calling them out, something odd happened when it came time to release Edge of Tomorrow on Blu-ray and DVD later that year. “They started titling it the title I always thought it should have, which is Live Die Repeat,” he said. Sort of. The packaging for the home video release of the film placed an even greater emphasis on that tagline rather than the actual title of the movie, giving the impression that the film had been renamed. In some cases, digital retailers such as iTunes even promoted the release as Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow.

The box for the physical discs had the words “Live Die Repeat” in large letters down the front cover, with “Cruise/Blunt/Edge Of Tomorrow” shoved together in a single line at the bottom of the artwork. And that’s how Edge of Tomorrow looked on store shelves for the next eight years and until 2022, when the film was released on 4K UHD with its original title restored to the top of the cover art (although “Live Die Repeat” is featured heavily in the background).

In the end, did any of this really matter? Edge of Tomorrow is about as generic a title as one can muster up, while Live. Die. Repeat. is certainly more striking and also more reflective of the film’s story itself. But it’s difficult to say whether the latter might have made the difference between a lukewarm response at the box office and a home run. And although there has been constant chatter about a sequel for years—with Liman, Cruise, and Blunt all attached to return—the director’s proposed title of Live. Die. Repeat. Repeat. kind of makes us yearn for Edge of Tomorrow 2.

The post Why the Edge of Tomorrow Director Hated the Title (And How It Changed for DVD) appeared first on Den of Geek.

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