"Birdman" won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Cinematography at the 87th Academy Awards this year. Ever since the awards ceremony, everyone has been talking about the movie, but it hasn’t been released in Japan yet. That fateful day is April 10, which allows for some time to adjust the advertising campaigns.
Bu the Japanese poster for "Birdman" is…well…we’ll let you decide.
Japan is no stranger to tweaking movie titles, and not just for purposes of translation. Ask someone here if they’ve seen "Frozen," and even if you put it into katakana English and call it “Furoozen”, they will likely tilt their head in that unmistakable way that indicates they have no idea what you’re talking about.
The changes are usually made to give people a more implicit understanding of what the film is about, even if it means potentially spoiling plot points along the way. Even when translated into Japanese, “Frozen” might not mean anything to most people in Japan, but “Anna and the Snow Queen” has that Disney flavor to it, albeit presenting the story as much more of a “good versus evil” struggle than it actually is.
With "Birdman," the studios have decided to keep the title for its Japanese release, presenting it as バードマン (“Baadoman”), but they’ve made some changes to the movie poster.
Below is one of the posters that moviegoers in North America and Europe were shown.
The Japanese poster (above left) proudly proclaims that the film has won a bevy of awards, which of course makes sense. But it’s also now in color, and then there’s the very much “in-your-face” addition of Michael Keaton’s alter ego swooping in and seeming to lift the protagonist up – although people unfamiliar with the film would be forgiven for wondering, “What the hell is that thing in the background? Is that Birdman? So who’s the guy he’s saving?” The whole thing has more of a Marvel Comics vibe to it than “washed-up actor tries to claw back his career.”
But is more giving cinema goers more information better? Are ambiguous movie titles or overly simple posters misleading?
A majority of Japanese Internet users were deeply concerned about these seemingly unnecessary changes to the poster, as was the user who originally shared it online.
“Simple is better.” “It makes no sense.” “At a glance, it looks like a B-movie.” “Why’d they put it in color?” “Is it a horror movie?”
There are a few positive opinions though, with some people wondering if the changes were really that bad. Another even expressed an interest in seeing the movie thanks to this new poster.
The awards circuit has clearly made up their minds about "Birdman," but the jury is still out on the Japanese poster.
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