I happened upon an old Japanese poster for the science fiction movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind recently (pictured below) and was pleased to see it contained the title that the film was released under in Japan.
If you’re not familiar with the Japanese language then it roughly says “The aliens who keep stealing our stuff are back” which, I think you’ll agree, is a much more descriptive title for the immensely flawed (yet enjoyable) film.
Close Encounters isn’t the only film with a better title in a foreign market release. Here are a few others you might already know:
1972’s science fiction movie Silent Running was known in Iceland as Crazy Space Gardener.
The distributors of 1980’s Caddyshack in Portugal knew they’d get better attendance with a film called Disruptive Golf Course Rodent.
Also from 1980, the comedy 9 To 5 became known in Saudi Arabia as This Is Why Women Should Not Work In Offices.
Fantastic Voyage was given a 1966 release in Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) as Very Small Donald Pleasence Movie. It was the same reverence for the actor that also saw Upper Volta give a 1980 release for The Pumaman as Donald Pleasence Versus The Flying Man And The Giant.
The excellent 1982 Steve Martin movie Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid has a wonderfully surreal title in English but in Nepalese it makes far more sense as Monochromatic Film With Most Amusing Coffee-Making Scene.
In 1989 the modern classic Road House was released and the following year saw the film make an appearance in Honduras as Incompetent Doorman Keeps Getting Employed.
The distributors of Afghanistan were obviously a little confused with Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris in 1972, hence the title of its limited release, Not Entirely Certain What Is Happening Outer Space Film.
Of course, you can’t have a list of oddly-translated movie titles without including (and finishing off with) 1977’s surprise hit, Star Wars. In Lesotho: The Princess In The Sky Ball. In Tonga: Colourful Sword Warriors In Space. In Czechoslovakia: Gold Robot And White Robot In Robot Story. And, finally, in Guyana, demonstrating that sometimes cinema distributors just use the posters as guidelines: White Couple Erotic Adventures In The Great Black Pyramid.