Yong Liu: "Home" or "Crazy Aliens": The Effects of Title Translation on Hollywood Movie Sales in China




报告题目:"Home" or "Crazy Aliens": The Effects of Title Translation on Hollywood Movie Sales in China

报告人Yong Liu, Karl Eller Professor of Marketing, Eller College of Management , The University of Arizona


International market sales has become a critical component of the revenue for Hollywood movies. When launching a movie overseas, a major task for the studio is on the movie title how the original English title should be translated into local language. In this study, we propose and empirically investigate the effects of movie title translation on box office sales of Hollywood movies in China. Our data include all Hollywood movies that were imported and exhibited in the Chinese market from 2008 to 2015. Our results show that, comparing with directly translating the English title into Chinese (e.g., translating “Jungle Book” as it is), modified translation that incorporates additional information into the movie title (e.g., translating the title to “Prince of the Forest” to provide some indication on the movie content) enhances the movies box office performance. However, using modified translation hurts the sales of the movies that have larger U.S. box office sales or a higher production budget. Theoretically we explain these findings as the (positive) content effect and the (negative) connection effect of title translation. That is, modified translation helps reveal the movie content, thus attracting more audiences, but makes the more disconnected from the original movie, decreasing the likelihood that a movie’s success in the US market influences the Chinese audiences. In addition to contributing to the literature on movie markets and entertainment marketing, this research sheds light on branding strategies in global markets.