Filmmaker Andrew Domink and actor Brad Pitt are rejoining forces for an adaptation of George V. Higgin's 1974 crime novel, Cogan's Trade. The mobster tale boasts a killer cast (pun intended) which includea such onscreen Mafia icons as James Gandolfini and Ray Liotta, along with excellent supporting talent in the forms of Scoot McNairy (Monsters) and Oscar-nominees like Sam Shepard (Safe House) and Richard Jenkins (Let Me In).
Domink's cinematic adaptation of Cogan's Trade has now been re-dubbed Killing Them Softly. What exactly the motivation behind this unexpected title change remains a mystery.
Here is the basic plot setup for Higgin's original Cogan's Trade novel (which Domink's adaptation is expected to retain):
Jackie Cogan is an enforcer; and when the Mob’s rules get broken, he gets hired to ply his trade – murder. In the gritty, tough-talking pages of Higgins’s 1974 national best-seller, Cogan is called in when a high-stake card game under the protection of the Mob is heisted.
Such a storyline setup could lend itself to a slow-burn dramatic thriller that may (or may not) bear the "artistic flourishes" that has earned Dominik and Pitt's previous joint effort - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford - many steadfast admirers, but also several unrelenting detractors. If nothing else, Killing Them Softly should easily impress in the area of acting.
That said, this title change-up (as reported by Variety's Jeff Sneider) is mostly just confusing. Cogan's Trade may not be an easily recognized literary title, but it arguably sounds less generic than Killing Them Softly. Regardless of whether the title change is the result of a creative choice or a marketing ploy, the logic behind the move isn't readily apparent.
Will Cogan's Trade be affected by the title change to the degree that Disney's upcoming John Carter adaptation has (seemingly) suffered due to its title being shortened from John Carter of Mars? Probably not, seeing how Killing Them Softly is aiming to appeal to a different (re: limited) moviegoing demographic that won't really care what the film is called, but still...
Killing Them Softly is tentatively set to begin a theatrical release in the U.S. on September 21st, 2012.