Top Five… Bizarre Title Changes

You’ll notice this week ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ has become merely ‘Red Riding Hood’ – but to be fair Amanda Seyfried is tall enough. Plus the film looks a bit sexually charged, so it might have been a bit ropey leaving the ‘little’ in. Usually, name changes occur as we cross the Atlantic: we’ve got taps, lifts, crisps, jam, runners, biscuits, jelly and estate agents; while they’ve got faucets, elevators, chips, jelly, trainers, cookies, jello and real estate agents (are our estate agents fake?). But when it comes to film titles, it can be just downright confusing. We have a look at five of the weirdest with over at Metro

5. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone = Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s StoneI’d have boycotted the film if I was American. As the story goes, US audiences wouldn’t ‘understand’ what a philosopher was, so they simply changed the name of one of the most important items in the Harry Potter universe. Incidentally, its maker, Nicolas Flamel, wasn’t a philosopher or a sorcerer – he was an alchemist. Nevertheless, every scene in which the stone was mentioned had to be filmed twice. To be fair to the filmmakers, the name of the book was changed beforehand – children wouldn’t want to read a book about philosophy, apparently. Because all Confucius’ books had goblins, owls, brooms and ten-year-old wizards on the cover.

4. The Boat That Rocked = Pirate Radio

The producers worked so hard on coming up with such a clever title – the boat that rocked, as in it played music of the rock genre; the boat that rocked, as in the motion experienced by all boats due to the natural ebb and flow of the tide; the boat that rocked, as in it caused controversy; and, of course, the boat that rocked as in the natural momentum caused by enthusiastic copulation. See what they did there? But since the title was the only funny thing about it, it flopped, and they re-edited it for rerelease in the US, calling it Pirate Radio. Because it’s about a pirate radio station. They’re on a ship, so I suppose it maintains a little bit of cleverness. But the film’s still crap.

3. The Emperor’s Journey = March of the Penguins

In its original France, La Marche de l’Empereur, or The Emperor’s Journey, has a cool name. It is a befitting title for a noble creature and the epic quest that is its life. March of the Penguins just makes me picture funny little fat birds waddling along – it could be a sequel to Happy Feet, or worse still another Joel Schumacher Batman sequel. Dignity however is returned to the English version by the man who takes ‘ration’ out of narration, Morgan Freeman – in the French version the penguins actually talk to each other. It could be worse: in India it’s called ‘Penguin: A Love Story’, while in the Philippines it’s known as ‘Penguin, Penguin, How Were You Made?’

2. Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle = Harold and Kumar Get The Munchies

This gets a mention purely because of the reaction it gets when Americans hear its alternate title – just tell them what it’s called in Europe and watch their faces light up. White Castle, as Europeans may or may not know, is a US fast food restaurant that serves these exquisite little square burgers – the object of the eponymous pair’s affections. But since we don’t have White Castle in Europe, we got ‘get the munchies’. Something tells me anybody picking up this DVD case at the video store wouldn’t be too concerned about the global proliferation of fast food franchises.

1. The Big Boss = Fists of Fury

Bruce Lee’s fists were pretty furious, so that’s a title any of his films could have fallen under. But The Big Boss is the only one that has a Big Boss in it. This title change is more down to a mix-up than anything else, but it was born out of those silly execs once again fiddling with things that didn’t need fiddling. Okay, here goes: Bruce Lee’s first Hong Kong film was called The Big Boss, and his second was called Fist of Fury. Someone then had the great idea of changing The Big Boss for American distribution to The Chinese Connection, as a hilarious play on The French Connection, as they both featured drug trafficking. Fist of Fury meanwhile was inexplicably to be pluralised to Fists of Fury. But for some unknown reason, the titles got confused somewhere along the line – the first film was released in the US as Fists of Fury, and the second became The Chinese Connection. Recent DVD releases have seen the American versions officially restored to their original names, but there will always be film purists/snobs who will perpetuate the confusion. Best thing to do if you meet one is two-inch punch them in the back on the head.



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15 Responses to “Top Five… Bizarre Title Changes”

  1. good list McD. for you, anyway.

    one that always jumps to my mind is the Charles Grodin/Jim Belushi comedy Taking Care Of Business, as it was in the US – its called Filofax in the UK. because, uh, it has a filofax in it.
    now when in the heck have you ever heard anyone in the UK even use the word ‘filofax’?!
    if i said to someone English, ‘use filofax in a sentence’, they would probably say: ‘the Charles Grodin/Jim Belushi comedy Taking Care Of Business was called Filofax in the UK’.
    theres no way us Brits (and I include you in that, McD) would have been able to understand what Taking Care of Business meant…

  2. great list, man. no idea why they changed it from The Boat that Rocked. bizarre.

    I’ve heard Rowling say that it was a stupid move to change it to sorcerer’s stone. just re-read the book actually and, yeah, it doesn’t really make a lot of sense. weirdness.

  3. The Boat That Rocked is The Film That Is The Crappiest I Have Seen This Year. And just when you think it cannot get any worse, Rhys Ifans slimes on stage after about an hour.

    I have a White Castle t-shirt. When an American saw me wearing it, he laughed out loud as they are, apparently, the pikiest of burgers.

  4. Paul the Ball Says:

    I thought The Boat That Rocked became The Boat That Sucked in America

  5. Actually, it was The Boat That Sucked in England, too.

  6. I always preferred the title Joy Ride to Road Kill, the latter always seemed too on the button for my liking.

  7. Those title changes are all so pointless! The Harry Potter ting really annoyed me at the time and I don;t even like the films/books. It just seemed so dumb to have to change it because Americans don’t understand what a philosopher is.

    I remember there being a huge contraversy when LOTR: The Two Towers was coming out. Loads of people were getting hysterical about the fact that it sounded a little bit like “Twin Towers” and that might upset someone (how exactly?)
    Luckily PJ put his foot down and wouldn’t let them change the title.

    Some of the best name changes are the ones that go wrong in translation. Den of Geek has some great ones:

  8. Good spot Katie, that is a great list.
    France: The Matrix = The Young People Who Traverse Dimensions While Wearing Sunglasses
    Surely not? McG, you speak surrendereese?

  9. Skip Landers Says:

    Years ago, when I was still a teenager, I read an article in a movie mag that talked about how film titles didn’t translate well to overseas filmgoers
    . It stated that they, well, didn’t come off like they did in other places.
    ” Blue Velvet ” became ” Dark Flower of the Night ” ( gotta love that),
    and ” Lethal Weapon ” was ” Cannon that Strikes the Sky “. I just wonder what ” Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ” might have come out as.

  10. Now I’m worried that I’ll actually like The Boat That Rocked [which is what it’s being called when I see it tomorrow]; and then you’ll be pissed 🙂

  11. I understand some of these changes if they would confuse American movie-goers. Most of us are not smart. Somebody is going to say, “Doy, what’s a philosopher?” “That’s not an Emperor, that’s a penguin.” “What’s a White Castle?”

  12. It all about the Flotsam and Jetsam, Boat that shocked!

  13. Harold and Kumar Get the Munchies?! Hahaha. Wow. This was a great list!

  14. It seems to me that it wouldn’t matter to people in the UK if there wasn’t a local White Castle. They would get it regardless.

  15. I actually prefer Pirate Radio to The Boat That Rocked. But you’re right – rubbish film.

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