Friday, May 27, 2011

Foreign Titles for American Movies

Movie titles are pretty important as they serve as a kind of introduction to a movie.

They can make a negative or positive first impression on an audience and often provide an indication of the genre and subject of a movie.

I don't think people would love "Pretty Woman" as much if it was called "LA Prostitute" or "Dirty Dancing" if it was named "Statutory Rape Dancing."

Obviously movie studios put a lot of thought into these titles, which is why it's always interesting to see how American film titles sometimes change in foreign countries.

A major difference with foreign titles is that subtlety goes completely out the window.

Forget being clever,  foreign audiences apparently want to know exactly what they're getting even if the title gives away some of the plot.

For instance, the American titled "Adventures in Babysitting" (an underrated classic) gets changed to "A Night on the Town" in the United Kingdom.

It does away with any cleverness to just describe what happens in the movie as simply as possible.  Yet it completely fails to mention babysitting which is the whole point of the movie.

In addition, the U.K. title spoils that most of the plot takes place in the city despite starting out in the suburbs.

Not to mention, it might mislead people into thinking the movie's about prostitutes if they see it on late night TV.

But even that title isn't as bad as the U.K. "Mighty Ducks" title of "Mighty Ducks Are the Champions."  Could you be anymore blunt about what happens?  Besides I prefer the German title "Mighty Ducks - Das Superteam."

Movie titles really get lost in translation in France.  My friend was there in 1999 when he noticed that the forgettable movie "Chill Factor" starring Cuba Gooding Jr. was playing at a movie theater.

Except its French title was "50 degres Fahrenheit."  It is relevant to the movie, but I think it's more "Oh those crazy Americans and their crazy use of Fahrenheit."

At least that's better than the offensive French title of "Rasta Rocket" for "Cool Runnings."  I bet their second choice was "Four Black Guys in a Bobsled."

Even "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" isn't immune to a  foreign title change.  In Spain it's called "All in One Day" and in Argentina it's known as "An Expert in Fun."

Foreign countries should just keep the American movie titles because it's for the best.

I'm actually shocked that "Philadelphia"  kept its title in foreign markets because I thought for sure that would be too vague and some country would rename it "AIDS."

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