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[Debate] – Multiple Movie Titles


Posted July 31, 2016 by

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It is apparent to many that the English language differs in vocabulary, dependent on cultural factors, regions and all that jazz. Though, sometimes the differences warrant a question mark…Two titles, one movie; one very confused viewer. “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone or “Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone”?…There are several reasons for a film to be given an alternative title, though not all of these reasons are convincing. So why do some films carry more than one title? Can they be justified, or is it a rather ridiculous marketing display?

Once in a blue moon, the reworking of a film title tends to be for the better, simply to avoid outright confusion. A contemporary example includes, Nicholas Stoller’s “Neighbors” starring Zac Efron, which was soon re-titled “Bad Neighbours”. This only alludes to the matter of cultural difference among the countries. Australia particularly, would have confused the title for its longest-running soap, “Neighbours”. Although, the initial spelling of the movie title screams ‘American English’; the distributors changed it nonetheless. Similarly, “This is the End” held the initial title of “The End of the World”, so that audiences didn’t mistake it for Simon Pegg’s “The World’s End”. Undoubtedly, these changes are foreseeable, and don’t carry half as many burning questions to the table.

Other titles however, can be a rather hit-and-miss affair. Like, for instance, ”Zootopia” was changed to the much more neutral and drawn out, “Zootropolis” for its UK release. It didn’t quite hold the same tang. Now here’s for a slightly odd one, Peter Jackson’s third instalment in The Hobbit franchise. Originally called “There And Back Again”, Jackson decided to change it to The Battle of the Five Armies in attempt to appeal more to the action genre and for marketing purposes. “There And Back Again” embraces the concept of the journey, not just the last entry. Marvel’s “The Avengers” alike, was notably re-titled in the UK to Avengers Assemble” – once again, a marketing ploy. Even the famous Harry Potter title: the “Philosopher’s Stone” (named after the book written by J.K. Rowling) was substituted with “Sorceror’s Stone” prior to its US release to make it a little more ‘magical’. The lexical choice of “Philosopher” was said to have been considered too controversial and intellectual for its younger target audience. This illogical decision resulted in extra work, as certain scenes had to be re-shot for American audiences. Edge of Tomorrow too, was re-titled several times before its release in the US, and otherwise known as “Live.Die.Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow”. Good luck fitting that one into a 140-character tweet with added words of your own…

Would you believe that although a film is protected by copyright, its title isn’t? Copyright doesn’t actually cover titles. But this doesn’t explain the messiness on Hollywood’s behalf. The title says an awful lot about the film itself. So when sharp, strong titles are replaced with generic ones, it is all the more disappointing. Particularly when money is being churned out for these projects, only to become degraded and laughed upon at the fact a single title can’t be decided for this content. You’d think the title would be the simplest part. After all, Slick Superhero costumes and the face of George Clooney are what Hollywood seemingly stand for, not content.

It’s about time Hollywood made their mind up. I can’t change from Miss to Mrs on a regular basis…those who know me would be quite baffled. Equally, the same rule should apply to film titles.


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Written by:


Georgina Aindow
The Aspiring Film Critic
Freelance Contributor

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