Tuesday 7 October 2014

Random Movie Retitles (VOR #25)

It may not look like it, but this is actually the same movie.

Disclaimer: This opinion piece contains a rather obscure and inconsequential rant on random movie retitles. Beware, it gets messy.

One movie, two titles = one very confused Rhys. When is a random movie retitle justified, or are they just plain silly?

The other day, whilst flicking through the iTunes movie homepage as I regularly do, I came across a semi-decent looking rom-com movie with Zac Efron entitled Are We Officially Dating?. On the poster image, Efron and co-star Imogen Poots stroll through an autumnal park setting holding hands and generally looking like a typical, mid-twenties cutesey couple.

Zac Efron and Michael B. Jordan in
That Awkward Moment. Or is that
Are We Officially Dating? Ahh, who cares.
Huh, I thought to myself. That's weird. I could've sworn Efron and Poots starred in a similar film earlier in the year called That Awkward Moment. Is Efron doubling up on rom-coms in the same year? Poor career move Efron, poor career move.

However, upon further investigation (read: a Google search) I found that these were actually the same movie. Yep, for whatever reason, the decision to alter the title here in Australia simply didn't happen. Not only that, but the US and Australian posters make it look like two completely different movies! Anyway, somehow things got a little complicated when the filmmakers started dreaming up a title - or maybe Sony just forgot to send their Australian office the memo?

This random and confusing retitle got me thinking about other movies that are altered to fit with local audiences, and how they are a rather hit-and-miss affair.

Take one this year's biggest movies for example - The Amazing Spider-man 2. Here, in Australia, we were lumped with the rather cumbersome and unnecessary subtitle 'Rise of Electro', making for a frankly god-awfully long title you can barely fit into a 140-character Tweet.

Curiouser and curiouser, I thought - maybe we're getting a different edit of the movie to the US. Maybe, some extra scenes or story-lines. Nope, afraid not. What actually happened was Sony thought our thick Aussie heads couldn't get around the fact The Amazing Spider-man 2 sounded too much like the original, 'just' Spider-man 2. Gee, thanks.

Another recent release, John Carney's delightful Begin Again started life under the title Can A Song Save Your Life?. Poetic, intriguing, and it tells you something about the movie before you've even seen it. On the other hand, Begin Again sounds bland and uninspired - it's the kind of title that could be transplanted onto any generic rom-com (something the movie isn't) without a moments notice.

The most inexplicable of retitles however, goes to Tom Cruise sci-fi barnstormer, Edge of Tomorrow. Edge of Tomorrow started life as the much for evocative All You Need Is Kill, before being reworked into the much blander and generic title we know it to be now. Despite being an excellent movie, we can all agree that the new title kind of sucks. All You Need Is Kill is a much more action-orientated and a generally kick-ass title.

The madness doesn't end there however. Edge of Tomorrow is actually being reworked once more for its digital release in the US, now running under the title of Live/Die/Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow. Yet Down Under, Edge of Tomorrow has kept its original title. Uhh...what? I'M SO CONFUSED! WHAT IS THIS MOVIE CALLED! WHY U DO DIS!?

Seriously though - pick a title and stick with it.

Marvel's The Avengers was famous retitled in the United Kingdom to Marvel's Avengers Assemble so that people wouldn't mistakenly rock up at the movies expecting to watch some shitty 90's remake starring Uma Thurman in a skin tight leather catsuit and get disappointed when they watch a film that instead has Scarlett Johansson wearing a skin tight leather catsuit...

Sometimes, reworking a movie title makes sense to avoid confusion. For example, Seth Rogen's Neighbours was retitled Bad Neighbours here in Australia because it would've been confused with a long-running Aussie soap, also called Neighbours. Last year's This Is The End steered away from its original title ('The End of the World') to avoid confusion with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's The World's End. These changes make sense. Adding a random subtitle on the other hand? It's just messy.

Another good example is Peter Jackson's third Hobbit movie. Originally subtitled There And Back Again, Jackson made the decision to change it to The Battle of the Five Armies. Whilst I liked the first one, the updated title works too. There And Back Again encompasses the whole journey, not just the last entry.

At the end of the day, this whole post can be kind of discarded as nitpicking. But I believe the choice of movie title says a lot about the movie itself, and when genuinely interesting titles are replaced with more generic (read: marketable) ones, it makes me kind of sad. Edge of Tomorrow might be easier to wrap your tongue around than All You Need Is Kill, but the latter has something sharp and witty about it. It seems, if you'll pardon the pun, edgier.

Anyway, rant over. Interested to hear your thoughts - All You Need Is Kill, or Edge of Tomorrow? Begin Again, or Can A Song Save Your Life? Do movie retitles irk you as much as they do me? Let me know in the comments section below.


  1. They always seem to alter names for Australia. Most recently, "Bad Neighbours" became "Neighbours" and "Adore" became "Adoration" or "Two Mothers". *Sigh*. I think it's because of copyright issues. The Neighbours one is pretty obvious I guess. I absolutely agree with you about the original title of "Begin Again" but I do appreciate the name "Edge of Tomorrow" especially after seeing the film. But "All You Need is Kill" is no doubt more intriguing. Great Post!

    1. Yeah, the Neighbours change makes sense, I'm onboard with that :) It's when really grabbing titles like All You Need Is Kill are downgraded to something infinitely more boring that it bugs me. Thanks for commenting Angela :)

  2. This was a good read. I kind of feel like Peter Jackson changed the title to "Battle of the Five Armies" to make it sound more action-y. Especially since the first two Hobbit movies were (IMO) a snooze fest.

    But I had no idea That Awkward Moment had a different title, those DO look like two different films.

    1. Thanks Brittani - I think you're right, Battle of the Five Armies is much more action-orientated. Less meandering, which is something the Hobbit movies are guilty of (as fantastic as I think they are). It was That Awkward Moment that really stood out for me, simply because when stacked alongside each other they do look completely different. Strange, huh?

  3. The change in poster for the Efron film is absolutely crazy. In fact, they probably would have had much more success selling Efron in a romantic comedy than in a buddy comedy. Quite an interesting post!

    1. Thanks Tanner - I found it seriously odd that the film would be marketed in such a distinctly different way over here than in the US. If you didn't already know, they could be in completely different genres!

  4. We also got Bad Neighbours in the UK, I guess because we play Neighbours here too! I definitely prefer 'Can a song save your life?' to 'Begin Again' which I think is pretty boring. I HATED the Avengers Assemble title, I wish they had just kept it as The Avengers (really who was going to get confused and if they did I'm not sure they deserved to watch the film anyway!!).

    Anyway, I loved this post it was a great read :-)

    - Jenna

    1. Thanks Jenna :) Neighbours is still a pretty big thing in the UK right? On the topic of Avengers, it makes me wonder what Age of Ultron will be titled in the UK - Avengers Assemble: Age of Ultron? Yuk!

  5. Interesting stuff. Yeah, I'd be more interested in that Zac Efron movie marketed as "Are We Officially Dating?" as opposed to what we got, and might've even seen it in that event. :P As for Edge of Tomorrow, I actually do prefer that title over All You Need Is Kill, as it honestly fits the theme and premise of the movie a hell of a lot better than the original title, which tells you absolutely nothing about it. Live Die Repeat isn't necessarily bad, but if they wanted to name it that, they should've done so before the movie's release. Renaming it afterwards is just silly, but, eh.

    1. Thanks Chris :) I guess the different titles for Edge of Tomorrow are personal taste - I don't dislike the one they went with, just thought it was a little innocuous. I think you're right in saying it fits the theme of the film though. So much chopping and changing over one film! Crazy :D



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