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When movie titles change

When movie titles change

When movie titles change
29 February 2012

Ah the many differences between us and our American brethren. There's the way we say tomato, the way we say semi and the way we say urinal (no really, try it).

In all honesty, with the years of "progress", there's not a massive amount separating us these days. Even Oreos have become a permanent supermarket fixture over here.

But, there comes a time when our differing nationalities have a profound effect on our lives. That time, our friends, is at the movies. With the news that the next Fast & Furious blockbuster will be called Furious 7 in the US but the more traditional Fast & Furious 7 in the UK, we have 11 other examples of strange US-UK title changes just below.

Neighbors/Bad Neighbours

Originally titled Townies, this past summer's Seth Rogen/Zac Efron comedy about a fraternity living next door to a married couple, was renamed Neighbors for the US release. But, thanks to a certain Australian soap being rather well-known in the UK, the word 'Bad" was added to make sure there was no confusion. The amended title has also been used in Australia for glaringly obvious reasons. Sadly, Neighbours: The Movie is still no way near being a thing.

The Avengers/Avengers Assemble

Desperate for the superhero epic not to be confused with the cult 60s TV show, and probably the woeful 1997 movie, Marvel decided to add the word 'assemble' for UK audiences. Sadly this didn't translate to at least one scene where Samuel L Jackson's character shouted "Avengers assemble!" and they all stood in a single file, ready for inspection. Quick note to Hollywood: the Ralph Fiennes/Uma Thurman Avengers atrocity was an international tragedy. We all suffered.

Live Free or Die Hard/Die Hard 4.0

The intriguingly non-conformist title of the fourth McClane movie (look! no numbers!) was sadly modified for UK audiences to the rather more generic Die Hard 4.0. The pointless change was apparently made as the original title was based on the New Hampshire state motto, which would be confusing to us foreigners. According to the DVD commentary, both Bruce Willis and director Len Wiseman prefer the 4.0 variation.

Harold & Kumar go to White Castle/Harold & Kumar get the munchies

A simple case of cultural difference here. The fast food chain White Castle does not exist in the UK so, rather than making the stoner comedy sound like a Medieval adventure, the title was given a more universal spin. Interestingly, White Castle restaurants don't exist nationwide in the US so many Americans would also be confused by the title. Similarly, many Americans have never smoked weed so would also be confused by the entire film.

Harry Potter and the Sorceror's/Philosopher's Stone

Now, this is a bit of an odd one. The original book, and then film, was called Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in the UK but this was deemed too "cerebral" for American kids so the word Philosopher's was replaced with Sorceror's, to make it more magical and that. The rather nonsensical change meant that some scenes in the movie had to be dubbed and/or re-shot for American audiences.

Joy Ride/Road Kill

The underrated JJ Abrams-scripted thriller saw Paul Walker and his mates get stalked on the road by a vengeful trucker so the original title Joy Ride was seen as an ironic choice in the US. See, over there the expression translates as a pleasurable journey with no great aim yet in the UK, it means to recklessly drive a stolen car. To avoid confusion, the more apt title Road Kill was used. As a result, the film actually achieved greater box office success in the UK. See, sometimes it works.

Pirate Radio/The Boat That Rocked

Pre-2009, everything that Richard Curtis touched turned to slightly sweary, Hampstead-dwelling gold. But when his 60s-set comedy The Boat That Rocked failed to rock critics or audiences in the UK, drastic action took place. His previous films had done well in the US, so expectations were high. After reviews blamed its muddled storyline and 2-hour plus length, it was trimmed by 20 minutes and retitled Pirate Radio for the American release. But even well-spoken turds can't be polished and the film still landed with a thud.

The Mighty Ducks/The Mighty Ducks Are The Champions

This is a rather confusing one. The original title for the Emilio Estevez family comedy was The Mighty Ducks but for the UK release, it was changed to just Champions. Why? Well Disney worried that UK audiences wouldn't know that it was the name of a hockey team and probably feared cinemagoers would see it as a film about some fearsome ducks. But for the VHS and DVD releases, a clunky amalgamation, The Mighty Ducks are the Champions, was used instead. Oh and just to ensure everyone was really confused, the sequel D2: The Mighty Ducks was re-named The Mighty Ducks in the UK. Our heads hurt.

Formula 51/The 51st State

The "Samuel L Jackson takes on Liverpool" comedy was a box office disappointment when originally released in the UK in 2001. For the US release, the title was changed from The 51st State to Formula 51. Not only was it seen as more telling of the movie's drug-related plot but the original title was seen as potentially offensive to American audiences. The expression 51st state, in this context, refers to US dominance over England so the change was made. Sadly, audiences found the quality of the film to be offensive and it still flopped.

Fever Pitch/The Perfect Catch

Okay so stick with us. First there was the Nick Hornby novel Fever Pitch about football which was then turned into a Colin Firth movie, also about football. Then it was "re-imagined" as an American film about baseball which was then re-named The Perfect Catch for all non-US audiences. While it avoided confusion with the original film, it also helped market a baseball movie (a notoriously hard sell outside of America) to women by pitching it as a Drew Barrymore romantic comedy.

Dracula 2000/Dracula 2001

Well, ermmm, you can probably work this one out.