9 Posters Show How Differently American Movies Are Marketed Overseas
The funniest cinematic story of the summer isn't to be found in theaters. It involves Trainwreck, Amy Schumer and Judd Apatow's latest romantic comedy, though it's not the film itself.
It's the title. More specifically, it's the title in Germany.
The German title of Trainwreck is Dating Queen. While it's one of several different translations of the film, it sticks in the mind. Derailed or Derailment? Silly, but within the theme. Dating Queen? Hilarious as Trainwreck is a sex-positive film about a woman who's terrible at traditional courtship.
The stars of Trainwreck, Amy Schumer and Vanessa Bayer, had a lot of fun with the discrepancy in titles while in the country to promote their film.
Differences in marketing from the United States to overseas are actually pretty commonplace. Some are more egregious than others, both humorously and unpleasantly. Which are the most ridiculous? "Here are eight other examples of posters that wildly differ from their American counterparts."
12 Years a Slave
Perhaps the most offensive example of marketing differences in recent years is 12 Years a Slave. The Italian posters became an international promotional catastrophe. Instead of emphasizing stars Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong'o, the displays focused on Brad Pitt. Pitt has a small role in the film and was mostly involved as a producer.
Pitt is also white. 12 Years a Slave is a movie about the black American experience during the time of slavery. It was a truly disastrous mistake, and one Italian marketers apologized for quickly and profusely.
La Casa Blanca indeed: Every white face on the Latin American advertisement for The Butler is prioritized over black members of the cast. In what good world do James Marsden and John Cusack's mild-to-weird takes on presidents — each of which earns no more than 10 minutes of screen time — get bigger and higher placement than Oprah Winfrey? Having Forest Whitaker turned away from the audience doesn't help, either.
Making things worse: the American poster was truly striking, blending bits of American symbolism and the experience of the story's main character together. The effect is impressive, and a far better treatment for a story inherently about black Americans.
While Olaf, the prone-to-melting snowman, was fun in Frozen, he was far from the focal point. So why did he take such prominence in the film's American marketing campaign while female protagonists Anna and Elsa were covered by snow? The international poster got the story closer to the film, focusing on Elsa's ice power and her status as an outsider. It is also a far more artful piece of work.
Intriguingly, while Frozen got a name-change from the original source material, international markets mostly kept it. The story was very loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen — or, translated to French, La Reine des Neiges.
Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3's Chinese poster is basically the same as one of the American versions. Marvel went a different direction to make its Chinese version unique this time: Several scenes were added to the most recent Iron Man film thanks to the country's funding for the film. However, these scenes were only shown in China. Were the scenes worth it? Maybe not. But it's a quirky bit of trivia.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Much like Iron Man 3, the actual imagery of Captain America: The Winter Soldier's posters is the same overseas as it is in the U.S. The title in Russian, however, is quite different: It translates to First Avenger: Second War. The first half is likely different to keep Americana out of the title; the latter presumably because Winter Soldier has some uncomfortable connections to the Cold War.
That Awkward Moment
If you're wondering why this appears to be the poster for a sweet romantic comedy called Are We Officially Dating? instead of the raunchy bro-comedy That Awkward Moment, you can be sure Australian moviegoers were as well. While Are We Officially Dating? was the film's original title during production, the eventual title fits the target demographic in the United States more effectively.
It's hard not to feel bad for Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller, though. They're the co-leads with Efron, and yet they're displaced. Good for Imogen Poots, though! You go, Imogen Poots.
The international poster for Dreamgirls doesn't seem strange, putting its biggest stars front and center. Yet compare it to the American version, which doesn't use the actors' visages at all. Instead, the iconography of the original musical stands alone.
Why emphasize Beyoncé, Eddie Murphy and Jamie Foxx? They are massive international stars, and they're an easy way to sell a film. This poster counters the mostly incorrect — but widely accepted — line of logic that films with primarily black casts have issues selling tickets overseas.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
There's not much of a statement happening between the international Order of the Phoenix poster (Chinese version depicted here) and the far simpler American version. It's just that the overseas one-sheet is much, much cooler. To see the nearly full Dumbledore's Army facing off with some of the most prominent Death Eaters definitely gives this version the edge. We wish more American posters could be as ambitious.