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Film Titles are Changing out of the USA: US and UK Comparison

Updated on March 1, 2017

When Film Titles Change

Who forms these names for the UK, as at times, I find myself wondering what the point was even changing the name for the benefit of the UK.

I love it when the reason why the change of a name is, well, the British people may mistake the name for being a British TV series which shares the same name. Well, that would be true, if it wasn't for expensive marketing campaigns, which have trailers, film posters, and early review articles printed about these supposed, easily mistaken titles.

I wish Hollywood would simply understand, that the average British movie goer, will not be mistaken based purely on the name of a film, as just because they named the latest Seth Rogen film Neighbors, doesn't mean the British people, will hear of the big-budget comedy film, and turn around saying, oh wait!, can't watch that, as it is the same name as an Australian Soap.

I mean, Really!!!

I read a while back, that The Avengers (alliance of Marvel Superhero's, teaming up to form the ultimate bad-ass force against evil on earth) wasn't going to be named The Avengers in the UK, due to an ancient old TV series, which shared the same title. For starters I had never heard of this series until reading the article, and second of all, isn't 80% of the target audience for the film under the age of 15, who will be too young to have heard of that series anyway.

Hollywood are losing their minds!!! ... which explains why they are releasing so many terrible film remakes. I mean... Get Carter, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Total Recall, Robocop... and the list goes on.

So, join me in the clear and simple, just because... film titles, which have been changed out of the US for UK audiences.

Listed below, to the left is the US title, and to the right is the UK title. Here are 15 of the changes:

The Avengers | Avengers Assemble

In a dire attempt to ensure UK audiences would not become confused with the 60's TV show, Marvel decided it was best to alter the title slightly in the UK to "Avengers Assemble", which sounds in no way as good as as the US title original, The Avengers.

Again, this brings me back to my earlier point, that at least 80% of the films target market must be under the age of 15, making their efforts of changing the title completely pointless.

Most British people probably haven't realised that the title was changed, like myself, who remained blissfully unaware until a while back when reading an article, talking about this very film change.

Best title: The Avengers (US)

The Avengers sounds like a more appealing title due to keeping things simple, as The Avengers Assemble seems to really be one too many title words in my opinion. And, anyways, there is no mistaking The Avengers superheroes for any TV show by the same name.

Live Free or Die Hard | Die Hard 4.0

Apparently this change in name was due to the US title being the Hampshire state motto, which would be confusing, or at least lack meaning to audiences in the UK. That makes sense, but I'm sure like Bruce Willis, most would agree that Die Hard 4.0, sounds like the better title.

Generic titles kick-ass, and if you are going to Die, at least Die Hard.

Best title: Die Hard 4.0 (UK)

Die Hard 4.0 beats Live Free or Die Hard as it keeps the movie title simple without oversimplifying the entire meaning for the movie.

Neighbors | Bad Neighbours

So why was Neighbors changed to Bad Neighbours in the UK? Well, as I explained previously in my introduction, here, in the UK we have the Australian Soap which is well-known, which caused Hollywood to change the title adding 'Bad' to the mix.

Personally, I dislike the Neighbours Soap, making it a little irritating that we didn't get the same title, but all is forgiven, at least this time anyway.

Best title: Neighbors (US)

Neighbours would be a close one as Bad Neighbours is not a bad title either but wins over due to it being even more straightforward and too the point.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone | Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone

Supposedly the meaning behind this title change is due to Hollywood, believing that American children found the word 'philosopher's' to be boring, which is why this word was changed to 'sorcerers', which they felt was more magical, thus appealing to children.

I remember being younger, and finding the whole name, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone to be quite magical, and still do, making the whole reasoning quite half-arced if you ask me.

Best title: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (UK)

Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle | Harold and Kumar Get the Munchies

Simple, would be the best way to describe this change in titles, as it is simply because in the UK, there are no White Castle restaurants, which would have left UK audiences confused, so they gave it a catchy and understandable name.

Best title: Harold and Kumar Get the Munchies (UK)

Joy Ride | Roadkill

This change is due to cultural differences, as in the US as Joy Ride translates as an enjoyable journey with no aim, yet in the UK, the same thing translates to, recklessly drive a stolen car. This is the simple reasoning behind the change, which makes sense to me, as I probably wouldn't have purchased this film, had it had the name Joy Ride, and to clarify, I'm English.

Best Title: Roadkill (UK)

Pirate Radio | The Boat That Rocked

The title change was for this film, in the US, as the UK saw no reason to change the original title, The Boat That Rocked, whereas the US, due to critics responses saw every reason to change the name, fearing that the film would flop. Then... it flopped.

I guess well-spoken characters, a long storyline, and a dust-off wasn't enough to keep this film from dropping into the flop-bin.

Best title: The Boat That Rocked (UK)

The Mighty Ducks | Champions

Disney felt that the UK audience would not understand that The Mighty Ducks was an ice skating team, but rather a film about angry ducks, so they renamed it Champions for the UK.

Although later changed the name from Champions to The Mighty Ducks are the Champions, when it was taken off the cinemas, and released onto VHS copies and DVD's, as they felt it was more appealing.

Best title: The Mighty Ducks (US)

Formula 51 | The 51st State

A comedy set in the UK, starring the hit actor, Samuel L. Jackson, but sadly the film received a bad reaction from its audience and critics, resulting in the film bombing in the UK.

Due to the title being possibly offensive to the American audience, the title was eventually changed to Formula 51, which fitted the film better, but the film wasn't able to cut it in the US, bombing there as well.

Ultimately this film can be best described as a flop, which thankfully didn't affect Samuel L. Jackson's career, but I's imagine its a film even he'd sooner forget ever happened.

Best title: Formula 51 (US)

The Rundown | Welcome to the Jungle

The Rundown was apparently not right for the UK, as they immediately changed the title in the UK for the film to Welcome to the Jungle, which in my opinion sounds better, making it a little odd that the US title wasn't named the same.

I can imagine the excuse now for changing this title, with a less than subtle answer, saying just because...!

Best title: Welcome to the Jungle (UK)

xXx: State of the Union | xXx 2: The Next Level

This title was changed as foreigners outside of the US would be less familiar with the State of the Union address, which makes sense, when all things are uncovered.

The UK received a more generic title, with xXx 2: The Next Level, which feels like the kind of title you'd come up with in 5 minutes, which I imagine is about the same amount of time it took.

Best Title: xXx 2: The Next Level (UK)

Redemption | Hummingbird

Why the change? Well, I'd imagine there is a plausible reason for this title change in the UK, but I just can't see it.

Both great titles, and both representing the films story well, making this another, just because... moment.

Best title: Hummingbird (UK)

American Wedding | American Pie: The Wedding

Since American Pie is best-known in the US for obvious reasons, it makes sense that for the third film, a title like this was going to happen, but in the UK, we certainly need the 'Pie' in the title, otherwise we may have been confused as to what the film was, without seeing a poster or trailer.

Best title: American Pie: The Wedding (UK)

American Reunion | American Pie: Reunion

A similar reason to the third American Pie film, as in the US American's will instantly relate to the title, American Reunion, without the 'Pie', but for British people, we need the 'Pie' in the title, to ensure our understanding that it is an American Pie film.

Best title: American Pie: Reunion (UK)

Battle: Los Angeles | World Invasion: Battle Los Angeles

Los Angeles, being a city in America, it makes sense for the US to keep the title simple with Battle: LA, but for the UK, where we have little care for Los Angeles, to grab our attention, it is certain we need more, making the 'World Invasion' part, vital in getting the UK to watch the film.

Although my verdict below, based on what I have just said, may surprise you.

Best title: Battle: Los Angeles (US)

US or UK Film Names!

Which titles do you prefer, the US or UK titles?

See results

Summary...

America has no doubt, brought some of the best films ever made to the UK for everyone to enjoy, with some of the best titles a film could have, and sometimes a change of title for the UK can be a positive thing, but most of the time it is aimlessly pointless.

As most of the US titles which have been changed for UK audiences have made little sense, when it comes to the reasoning behind the decision to change the title, which leaves UK audiences a little confused, as to why the change has been made in the first place, myself included.

Although this is only a minor aspect to a film, which mainly comes under marketing, as in reality the book cover means nothing, as it is what's inside of the book that truly matters.

However, in saying that, I quite like to think that I'm reading a book with a great cover, with a title fit for purpose, making it more important for those among us, more arrogant.

If you have any thoughts or questions which you'd like to share, then please leave them in the comments box below. I will reply to any questions as soon as possible, so please do share, as it means a lot.

Thank-you for reading

"I do the research, so that you don't have to"

Your friendly movie, games writer: Craig Easom

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    • John R Kitch profile image

      John R Kitch 2 years ago from Kansas City

      An interesting read. I can see where differences in culture can have a movie title changed to clear up confusion. But, even as a Yank, I prefer "Philosopher's Stone" over "Sorcerer's Stone" as well.

    • Craig Easom profile image
      Author

      Dreammore 2 years ago from Great England

      John R Kitch:

      Thank-you for the comment. Understandable in certain cases, where film titles must be changed due to cultural differences as you have mentioned. But it does seem in other cases like with the Harry Potter film, that the titles are changed for no good reason.

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