A working title, sometimes called a production title, is the temporary title of a product or project used during its development, usually used in filmmaking, television production, novel, video game development, 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 produced under the title Die Hard: New York and the James Bond films, which are commonly produced under titles such as Bond 22 until an official title is decided upon.
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; and the Batman films Batman Returns, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, which were produced under the titles Dictel, The Intimidation Game, Rory's First Kiss and Magnus Rex, respectively.
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.
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.
- Nolan Fans article "The Dark Knight Rises As Magnus Rex"
- Bloom, Jim, Production Supervisor; Ch. 9, bonus material disc of the 2004 Star Wars Trilogy DVD box set.