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Don't Blame It On Harvey: Terrence Malick Gave 'Wettest County' Its Blessing To Use 'Lawless' Title

by Edward Davis
March 22, 2012 6:50 PM
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Malick oks Wettest County Title Change to Lawless

Earlier today we revealed and essentially confirmed what was quietly in the cards for a few weeks now: John Hillcoat's Prohibition crime flick "The Wettest County" starring Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jessica Chastain and many more is changing its name to "Lawless."

But wait, what about the upcoming Terrence Malick film of the same name? When we revealed the change this morning, there was an outcry from fans, many of them aiming their vitriol at Harvey Weinstein for not only "stealing" the title from Mr. Malick, but for watering down the title of Hillcoat's picture, which is often his wont.

Well, apparently you can't blame the Punisher for this decision. Acccording to the "Wettest County," now "Lawless" producers, who spoke to EW today, they always wanted to re-title their film (which is based on the 2008 historical novel "The Wettest County in the World"). The problem was Malick had the title first and they didn't want to step on toes.

Well, problem solved. Malick, gentleman that he is, benevolently gave up the title himself. “We’d always wanted the title Lawless,” producer Lucy Fisher told EW, “but it was always unavailable to us.” And you can thank John Hillcoat. Malick is such a fan of his work he was ok with gifting him the title: “Terry very graciously gave us the go-ahead to use it, because, he said, he’s a fan of John’s. He gets a special thank you in the movie.”

 "Lawless" opens up August 31. Malick's now-untitled film which will star Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, and Rooney Mara will shoot later this year. All's well that ends well?

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  • hank | March 23, 2012 1:40 PMReply

    "The Wettest County" is a perfect title. Even better would have been "The Wettest County in the World," which was the title of the book. It may seem strange but if you're from the south the title makes perfect sense and the meaning is immediately understood and I'm guessing they will want to target southern audiences. There are still plenty of "Dry" counties all over the south, meaning counties where the sale of alcohol is illegal. This title is a play on that. Stupid move to change the name, in my opinion.

  • Huffy | March 23, 2012 8:54 AMReply

    I love the way people's brains function when it comes to fan favorites versus industry boogiemen. Harvey Weinstein wants to call a movie Lawless and it's an awful title. Terrence Malick wants to call a movie Lawless and it's brilliant. Classic internet logic at work.

  • Nik Grape | March 23, 2012 11:38 AM

    Somebody said it before, Lawless would have a completely different meaning in both films. One is about illegal activity so Lawless sounds a bit like the studios treating people like retards, and Malick's film is about sexual obsession and love triangles so not really government laws. The logic isn't really as far fetched as you'd like it to be. But lemme guess, you're not really a Malick fan.

  • Edward Davis | March 23, 2012 11:21 AM


  • Joe | March 23, 2012 3:01 AMReply

    I don't think anyone cares that the name was taken from a Terrence Malick production, rather that the title of an anticipated film was homogenized.

  • a | March 23, 2012 3:42 AM

    You're wrong. I and plenty of others were a bit disappointed that a Malick movie had to lose its title because Weinstein got it first. I feel better about it knowing Malick's fine with it.

  • Kyle | March 22, 2012 11:12 PMReply

    Can we see a friggin' trailer already geez!! Ive read the book twice already and have had bonor ever since i saw they were making this into a film w Hillcoat directing and Cave scoring it. Come on Harvey...Marketing director??? Hello???

  • StephenM | March 22, 2012 10:53 PMReply

    "outcry from fans, many of them aiming their vitriol at Harvey Weinstein for not only "stealing" the title from Mr. Malick,"
    I like how you make it sound as if the fans were going crazy when you explicitly brought that point up in the title of your original post. Anyway, still a lame re-titling of the film when it had an excellent title already.

  • Daniel | March 22, 2012 10:21 PMReply

    Sounds like a good decision to me: "The Wettest County" is a terrible title for a film, in my opinion.

  • KT | March 22, 2012 10:44 PM

    ... Unless it actually applies to the subject matter of the film...

  • Nik Grape | March 22, 2012 8:53 PMReply

    Even though I had a feeling Malick didn't care, yea, this is a stupid decision. Nevertheless, I'm excited for both of these Lawless'

  • KT | March 22, 2012 7:29 PMReply

    Still, a stupid decision is a stupid decision.

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