Same movie, different name: UK/US title changes explained

Commentary by Kaylee Brewster

Sometimes when films release in other languages, the title changes to avoid a loss in translation, but then sometimes even going from English to English titles can change as the movie moves from the United States to the United Kingdom.

Here are some movies that changed titles when they released in the U.K., often as the result of cultural rather than lingual barriers.

U.S. title: “Avengers” U.K. title: “Avengers Assemble”

Reasoning: The change of this Marvel film was to avoid confusion with UK audiences with “The Avengers,” a British spy show of the 1960s. The change of just one word works well with comic nerds who know that “Avengers Assemble” is what a character (often Captain America) will yell to get the Avengers together to take down the baddies.

US title: “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” UK title: “Pirate of Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge”

Reasoning: This one isn’t exactly clear. It could be to avoid confusion with “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” or because of available trademarks. Both titles are pretty bad, but unless you know that Salazar is the main villain of the movie, the meaning is lost, so the US title is slightly better by referring to a well-known Pirate saying.

US titles: “Fast Five,” “Furious 7,” “Fate of the Furious” UK title: “Fast and Furious 5: Rio Heist,” “Fast and Furious 7,” “Fast and Furious 8”

Reasoning: It looks like after “Fast Five” the UK decided to adopt a more consistent numbering system rather than having to deal with the constant removal and addition of words. While the US title offers a little spice and variety, at least with the UK ones you can remember the titles and order.

US title: “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle” UK title: “Harold and Kumar Get the Munchies”

Reasoning: There are no White Castle fast food joints in the UK, instead there are actual castles of varying colors. So, in order to avoid confusion as to what kind of film audiences were getting into, the title was changed. The UK title certainly gets to the point and offers a few chuckles.

US title: “Harry and the Hendersons” UK title: “Bigfoot and the Hendersons”

Reasoning: This one is also unclear; perhaps UK audiences wouldn’t know what Bigfoot would look like without it being in title. But “Harry and the Hendersons” is so perfectly alliterated it’s disappointing it would be altered in any way.

US title: “Hoosier” UK title: “Best Shot”

Reasoning: While most people in the US know what the “Hoosier” references, UK audiences don’t and the title doesn’t exactly scream, “basketball.” For the sake of clarity, changing the title makes sense.

US title: “Live Free or Die Hard” UK title: “Die Hard 4.0”

Reasoning: Yet again, numbered titles seem to be preferred in the UK, even if it ruins the title. Also, the reference to the New Hampshire state motto is lost when taken across the pond. Plus “Live Free or Die Hard” sounds a bit more like a James Bond title.

US title: “Zootopia” UK title: “Zootropolis”

Reasoning: This time it’s a vague answer as Disney explained that they wanted a unique title for UK audiences. It’s a lame excuse, as the “utopia” aspect to “Zootopia” plays a key role in the film.

US title: “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” UK title: “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”

Reasoning: This goes back to the release of the book where it was thought that American kids wouldn’t want to read a book with “philosopher” in the title and “sorcerer” sounds more magical. Sorry, folks, we got it wrong this time, always go with the original title.

Brewster is a graduate of Lewiston High School and Lewis-Clark State College who is earning her master’s degree in film and television studies at the University of Glasgow. She can be reached at kaylee.brewster@hotmail.com.

Comments (0)

Add a comment

Add a Comment
  • Dance Lessons

    @ Fraternal Order of Eagles - Aerie 26

    Mon., May 17, 6 p.m.