If you’ve ever seen posters for movies in other countries, you might have noticed their titles are different. Movie distributors outside of the U.S. often wind up changing a movie’s title. Sometimes it’s just a simple translation. Sometimes it’s an additional subtitle. Sometimes the title change will just have you wondering: “Why?”
One country that tends to constantly have their distributors change titles is Germany. You may think that the reasons are to sell the movies for the German public, but it’s not always that simple. Sometimes the issue has to do with the legal rights to a certain title. As Marvel Deutschland explained when asked why Thor: The Dark World was changed to Thor: The Dark Kingdom in the domestic market, it was because the original title was no longer available for the German distributor to pick up.
This leads to lots of odd situations for the German movie-going public, like when titles are changed to other English words instead. Here are some of those instances.
1. Crazy Rich Asians
Crazy Rich Asians was a hit both at the box office and with critics. The title, based on the book of the same name, was meant to be provocative, according to the film’s director Jon M. Chu. His intention doesn’t change the fact that the title was meddled with in some places. Crazy Rich Asians was simply titled Crazy Rich in Germany. Germany wasn’t the only country to change the title of Crazy Rich Asians, however. It was dubbed Crazy Rich! in Japan and Crazy & Rich in Italy. It’s an unfortunate title change given the background of the film. Couldn’t they have called it “Rich Asians” or “Wealthy Asians” or “Romantic Comedy Surrounding Well-To-Do Asians” instead? Those all seem like less controversial alternatives.
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2. Captain America
As mentioned before, Germany’s Marvel distributor tends to be late to pick up the rights to movie titles. One very public display for that were the titles to Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War. Both were big blockbusters lauded by fans and critics as some of the best superhero films of all time in addition to their financial success, including in Germany. Captain America: Civil War was even shot there. However, that didn’t mean that they could keep the original title. The Winter Solider was renamed The Return of the First Avenger and Civil War got the title The First Avenger: Civil War. While other foreign distributors did similar things for those movies, they at least kept Captain America in the title. Marvel Germany, however, just counted on people knowing who The First Avenger was. Couldn’t they’ve just gone with “The First Avenger Rises”?
3. Horrible Bosses
Horrible Bosses (2011) had a great cast including Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, and others. They, along with a funny and original script, meant the movie wound up well-received and spawned a sequel. But there was a concern with the film’s German distribution. The title might have been perceived as too difficult to keep in English and too difficult to translate well into German. Whatever the reason, Warner Bros. Germany decided to rename the film to Kill The Boss. Or as Germans might pronounce it: Kill Ze Boss.
4. Couples Retreat
Remember that 2009 comedy written by and starring Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau called Couples Retreat? If you’re from Germany, you likely remember it as All Inclusive. Yes, the German distributor decided to name a movie after a hotel feature because, after all, the movie surrounds a vacation. It’s better than calling it “Continental Breakfast.”
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With 2016’s amazingly successful Disney animated adventure Zootopia, a number of foreign distributors scrambled for different titles. Many ended up with Zootropolis, but not Germany. No, Zoomania was selected to be what German audiences saw printed on their tickets. The word means “an excessive or abnormal love of animals,” according to an online dictionary. Though possibly a coincidence, who says you can’t name an animated Disney movie for children after a psychiatric condition?