Movie Title Translations

I found this story to be interesting and pretty funny too...

August 6, 2008 - MEXICO CITY -- This weekend, thousands of Mexicans will line up at theaters to see "The Knight of the Night," "Super Agent 86" and "The End of Time." Never heard of them?

Those are the literal translations of the Spanish titles given to "The Dark Knight," "Get Smart" and "The Happening," examples of the marketing tactics that can leave cinephiles baffled as Hollywood reaches out to increasingly important foreign audiences.

Depending on the nation, moviegoers are watching Steve Carell of "Get Smart" in "Max the Menace" (France), "Agent Smart: Casino Totale" (Italy), "Is the Spy Capable or Not?" (Taiwan), or "Confused Spy" (China).

Titles often are tweaked to suit local tastes. Last year's comedy hit "Knocked Up" was given the gentler title "Slightly Pregnant" in Roman Catholic Peru and the gloriously blunt "One Night, Big Belly" in China.

Hollywood has taken a more active role in translating its titles in recent years, says David Weitzner, a former chief of worldwide promotion for 20th Century Fox and Universal. Some films make half of their money overseas, and studios are increasingly doing "global launches" to generate buzz.

"We have to pay much more attention to the foreign market than we used to," Weitzner says.

The translations used to be left to foreign film distributors, with dubious results. Some titles gave away key plot points, such as when "Rain Man" became "When Brothers Meet" in Latin America.

U.S. film titles for foreign movies often are odd, too. "Open Your Eyes," a Spanish film about a man in suspended animation, became "Vanilla Sky" when it was remade with Tom Cruise.


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