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March 1999, Week 1


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
"Ressel, David Lee" <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 26 Feb 1999 08:46:02 -0500
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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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        >>Does anyone know the purpose of title changes for different

To wit:
For movies w/ different languages than those from  a exhibitor's country,
title changes seem obvious due to translation difficulties, transliteration
and cultural idiom. The easily humorous examples are those movies literally
translated from Chinese, like the recent :  "Severely Rape."  Or "La Nuit
American" being "Day for Night, a title that would confuse Americans. Or
even "Hana-bi" called "Fireworks" because it is just not translatable.

(Anyone recall such classic international marketing fauxes pas as the "Nova"
car marketed in Spanish countries--meaning the "no go" car.; or Gary
Marshall's oft told story of "Joannie Loves Chachi" in Korea where "Chachi"
is slang for the male sexual organ?  There are many such blunders, those
wanting a humorous list, email me.).

However,  name changes across different geographic markets with ostensibly
the same  language could result for various reasons

The chief reason is that English really varies idiomatically, and movie
marketers seek to cater to regionalisms. Many titles have been changed over
this variance in American English and English English.  (Query. Was "Dead
Ringers" released theatrically as "Gemini" abroad? )

Another idiomatic example might be the addition of the quotes around the
word "crocodile" in the release of " 'Crocodile'  Dundee" to ensure that
people didn't think that Mr. Dundee was  a crocodile.

Or, a title may seem to offend a specific market, e.g. "The Pope Must Die"
became "The Pope Must Diet."

I would also think that  a title may change due to a MPAA film that has a
similar title already used or reserved in North America.  Studios might go
to great lengths to avoid similar titles, or add a possesory like "William
Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet" to avoid a title conflict. Studios have been
to know to "horse trade"  for reserved titles.  I venture a guess this has
been a factor in international distribution.

Another case may be  a dim view of audience sophistication.  Whether true or
not "The Madness of George III" was reputedly released as "The Madness of
King George" out of fear that North American audiences would think that
George III was the third sequel in a series with which they were not

Strict marketing reasons can also dictate a name change, In the case of Mad
Max 2, the first movie did not generate spectacular theatrical box office in
North America , and a sequel to an unfamiliar movie would not generate much
interest.  Or,  "The Professional" versus "Leon" focusing more on the action
aspects rather than personality aspects of the character of the title role.

 I quite enjoy comparing title changes, including working titles.
 Anyone know of a good comparative list?

Anyway, my two cents---or for some of you, my two pence.

Viacom/MTV Networks

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Kate Butler [SMTP:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Monday, February 22, 1999 11:31 PM
> To:   [log in to unmask]
> Subject:      Film titles
> Susan writes,
> >The only original and decent thing about the American "re-make" of La
> >Femme Nikita was the heroine's love of blues singer Nina Simone. This
> >otherwise embarrassing film is called "Point of No Return," with Bridget
> >Fonda, Gabriel Byrne and Harvey Keitel.
> This film (the U.S. version) was released as 'The Assassin' in Australia
> which I think is a much stronger title. I have heard of this happening
> before with Australian films where the title is deemed to be too parochial
> perhaps ('Mad Max 2' here was released as 'The Road Warrior' in the U.S. -
> I remember a national competition being run to come up with the new
> title).
> Does anyone know the purpose of title changes for different markets?
> Kate Butler
> _____________________________________________________
> Kate Butler
> Department of Visual Communication
> RMIT University, Australia
> [log in to unmask]
> ----
> Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite

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