Finding the Non-Existent Movie

The holidays have come upon us, bringing with them movie season: family films, holiday fare, serious dramas contending for Oscars, and blockbuster superhero action. Sometimes, however, I find that the most intriguing films are those accidentally created by the theater itself and found by the observant passerby. When the theater starts cramming multiple titles into the limited space on the old-fashion marquee above the entrance to the lobby, titles run together in new and entertaining ways: a Found Movie

Not every time a theater crams two (or more) titles together do they necessarily create a Found Movie. There are, of course, some rules to the game. Obviously, the new title needs to make sense. Also, the title has to actually exist; that is, I do not flip titles and words around in my head to create the title I wish was up there on the marquee. I have to take the titles as written. However, since theaters generally do not include punctuation on their marques, I generally allow myself to punctuate as needed.

Found movies are getting harder to collect as more and more theaters get rid of their marquees and move everything on-line. Neighborhood theaters tend to hang on to their marques, and I am fortunate to live in a neighborhood that had two, and still has one, great local theater. The Manor Theater, in the Squirrel Hill area of Pittsburgh, not only has a marquee on the main street, but has 4 auditoriums, so they always have multiple titles vying for space on the marquee and running into each other in creative ways.

Here are a few that I have discovered over the years:

Sometimes, a Found Movie sounds like a perfectly legitimate movie:
Simon And Gaenor Remember the Titans
8 Women Analyze That
Pearl Harbor Panic

The better ones, however, create a new movie with some tantalizing twist on something you intended to see:
Die Another Day, Harry Potter
Harry Potter, Catch Me if you Can
Harry Potter Hangover
Transformers Die Hard
Elizabeth Into the Wild Jane Austen Book Club
Burn After Reading the Women
Dear John Hurt Locker
Shang Chi, Cry Macho!

And, in true, Hollywood fashion, a good Found Movie sometimes generates sequels and series, like in this trilogy of a love affair that obviously goes wrong:
Waterboy I Have Loved
Waterboy Psycho
Waterboy Vampire

Or, you find an ongoing variations on a theme:

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor, Antman and Wasp?”

 “Won’t You Be My Neighbor, Antman and Wasp?”
“Mamma Mia!”
”Sorry to Bother You.”

“Mamma Mia, Neighbor, He Won’t Get Far on Foot.”

The titles occasionally fit together in a question and answer format:
What is the Worst That Can Happen?
Pearl Harbor

What is the Worst That Can Happen?
The Mummy Returns

American Beauty What Planet Are You From?
American Beauty Here On Earth

And sometimes, rather creating a new movie, titles combine to form a commentary on the actual films playing inside:
The Majestic Lord of the Rings
Tolkien: Amazing Grace
Ghostbusters: Absolutely Fabulous
The Big, Sick Baby Driver
The Big, Sick Planet of the Apes
            And one summer, things got really wild in the theater:
Star Wars, Spiderman: Insomnia!
Star Wars, Spiderman, Insomnia: Enough!

And I am still finding new Found Movies. Just a couple of weeks ago, an intriguing new action/superhero movie showed up:
No Time to Die, Venom

I can’t wait to discover what will show up next to rival whatever is playing inside.

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