Call it the Case of the Missing ”The” (or should we say Case of Missing ”The”?). Lately, our favorite three-letter article has been mysteriously AWOL from a growing number of movie titles. Consider evidence: This summer gave us the Will Smith vehicle ”Wild Wild West” (the original 1960s TV show was ”The Wild, Wild West”). And coming soon: Brad Pitt in ”Fight Club” (a project that was once called ”The Fight Club”) and director Tim Robbins’ ”Cradle Will Rock” (inspired by a 1936 musical drama called ”The Cradle Will Rock”).
That’s not even counting films that sound like they should have a ”the” in their titles, like Julia Roberts’ ”Runaway Bride,” or Kevin Costner’s ”For Love of the Game.” Wherefore art ”the”? ”You have people’s attention for about a second when they look at your title,” says Gerald Cohen, a language professor at the University of Missouri-Rolla. ”’The’ is one more word that doesn’t add anything.”
Still, the ”the” shortage is tripping up fans and media alike — several news outlets (EW included) have inadvertently added an extra article to Costner’s title. ”I find ‘For the Love of the Game’ harder to say,” argues ”Game” producer Amy Robinson. ”It’s more words.” End.