Almost 70 percent of Hollywood’s annual box office revenue now comes from international markets. Much has been written already about how the American movie industry’s reliance on global audiences is changing the way Hollywood films are made.
Just as interesting from a translation and localization perspective are not just the movies themselves, but the titles. Not every snappy English title works well in Spanish, English, or French–let alone Hebrew or Turkish.
Cultural differences make a title like “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” difficult to render in a one-on-one translation. “Meatballs are not something Israelis relate to,” Arie Barak, whose public relations company represents Fox, Disney, and Sony in Israel, told the AP. The title for the Israeli version of the hit animated franchise? “It’s Raining Falafel.”
But not everyone is happy with the efforts at localizing difficult-to-translate movie titles. Danny Warth, an archivist at an art-house theater, called the crude altering of titles “an insult to the genre.”
He’s not altogether wrong. It takes careful consideration and considerable finesse to make sure a translated title keeps the tone and style of the original, stays faithful to the movie, and still attracts local audiences. Would you have guessed the original from these titles?
- “His Great Device Makes Him Famous” (“Boogie Nights” in Japan)
- “Woody and the Robots” (“Sleeper” in Quebec)
- “Six Naked Pigs” (“The Full Monty” in China)
- “I Think I’m Being Kissed By an Elk!” (“Stripes” in German)
- “Sweet Trouble” (“Erin Brokovich” in Turkey)
- “Optimism is the Name of the Game” (“Silver Linings Playbook” in Israel)
- “The 8th Passenger” (“Alien” in Israel)
- “Very Bad Trip” (“The Hangover” in France)
- “If You Leave Me, I Delete You” (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” in Italy)