Cloudy with A Chance of Meatballs had a much different but somehow just as brilliant title for audiences in Israel. It’s Raining Falafel was how the Israeli people saw the popular kids film, since the US title tends to get lost in translation. This is far from the first movie that has had to change its title to appeal to other countries and it likely won’t be the last. For those of you that don’t know, falafel is a dish that is made from ground chickpeas or fava beans, or both, and then deep fried before being served up. It’s supposed to be a tasty dish, but it’s also far more recognizable to Israeli’s than meatballs, which are a culinary delight in other countries but don’t necessarily translate to everyone in the same manner.
Some countries have their own version of the meatball and so it would be seen as normal to adapt the title to something that they could recognize and understand. Hollywood studios have been content to adapt their titles in order to please the foreign markets where they are attempting to gain influence. It’s also just considerate to market something that could be a hit under a name or title that’s geared toward making all audiences feel that it is just for them.
Of course the content, the language, and the cultural inferences in the movie could be quite different and in some cases not entirely acceptable in the film, but that is another matter. Not every film that’s made in Hollywood is going to be universally liked as it’s been seen throughout history. But the title at least interests people enough to take a chance and watch the film before making a snap judgment. If nothing else getting a viewer into the theater to start with is a partial win.
There are of course those that believe that changing the title of a movie to something more whimsical and accommodating is something that shouldn’t need to be done or should be left alone. Such detractors tend to think that the integrity of the film has been damaged by the act of making such a concession for the audience. The idea of creating a whimsical title is seen as a means of lowering the film and its standards in order to up its sales, which in the minds of some is simply not acceptable.
In truth it is all about business. Getting people into the theater is the main idea of making a movie. The money aspect of it is of course important and is the driving reason why such accommodations will be made. However the integrity of the movie is something that ticket prices and altered titles are not able to touch. A movie will remain the same gripping, powerful, comedic, or dramatic performance that it started out as no matter if it’s title is changed to reflect the society into which it’s being released.
A title is after all a way to describe a movie, not to define it.