In an effort to bring in the widest audience possible (in order to bring in the biggest profit possible), movie studios make modern blockbusters with everyone in mind. As such, American filmmakers have long been tasked with creating films for a truly global audience—and on occasion have had to change certain details within their films in order to appeal to moviegoers outside of the United States.
Take Pixar’s recent hit Inside Out, for example: In the American version of the film, the little girl Riley hates the taste of broccoli, whereas Japanese audiences saw the character refuse to eat her green bell peppers. “We learned that some of our content wouldn’t make sense in other countries,” director Pete Docter explained in a press release, in which he noted that that they made 28 changes to 45 shots in the film. Here are nine other movies that were altered for international audiences.
1. IRON MAN 3 (2013)
Iron Man 3 is a co-production between Marvel Studios and China-based DMG Entertainment, so the Chinese version of the superhero movie included new scenes that weren’t in the U.S. version. The character Dr. Wu (Wang Xueqi), who is introduced at the beginning, is expanded upon with additional scenes in the Chinese release. Additionally, Chinese actress Fan Bingbing, who plays Dr. Wu’s nurse, is introduced, while a new scene featuring Iron Man with middle school students can be seen in a news report. There’s even product placement from Gu Li Duo, a very popular milk brand in China. Overall, about four minutes of footage was added to the Chinese version of the Marvel movie.
2. LINCOLN (2012)
When Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln opened internationally, the movie ran into a problem: While a majority of people outside of the United States knew that Abraham Lincoln was an American President, they didn’t know about his role in the Civil War and/or the Emancipation Proclamation. To appeal to foreign moviegoers, Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner created a preamble that explained a bit of American history using title cards and actual black-and-white photos from 1865. Composer John Williams even wrote a score for the added, minute-long segment. In the Japanese version, Spielberg appeared on camera to address the audience before the preamble began.
3. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014)
The sequel to 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger finds Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) adapting to life in the 21st century after spending a majority of his adult life in the 1940s. At the beginning of the film, he meets military veteran Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) who recommends he listen to Marvin Gaye’s soundtrack to the film Trouble Man as a way to catch up with modern pop culture. Rogers dutifully adds the soundtrack to his to-do list, which features other cultural touchstones.
Marvel Studios assembled 10 different versions of Rogers' to-do list, which varies from country to country. Although each list features Thai Food, Star Wars/Trek, Nirvana (Band), and Rocky (Rocky II?), the American version features I Love Lucy (TV show), while the British version features Sherlock (TV show) instead. The Australian version features Steve Irwin and Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, while the South Korean version features Oldboy and Dance Dance Revolution.
4. TOY STORY 2 (1999)
In Toy Story 2, Buzz Lightyear gives a rousing speech to Andy’s toys just before they travel across town. During the pep talk, an American flag appears behind him and “The Star-Spangled Banner” plays in the background. For the international release, Pixar changed the flag to a spinning globe, while composer Randy Newman wrote a new score called the “One World Anthem.”
Although the remake of this 1984 classic was completed and set for release in 2011, MGM and FilmDistrict delayed its premiere in order to change the film’s villains from Chinese invaders to North Korean aggressors. The decision behind the change was, perhaps unsurprisingly, a monetary one: Producers felt that Red Dawn could play better in China if the villains were North Korean instead. MGM poured an additional $1 million into post-production to digitally change Chinese flags to North Korean ones, re-edited a few scenes, and reworked the film's opening scene, dropping its original story of the Chinese government invading the U.S. to violently collect a debt after the country defaulted on its loans. Red Dawn finally made its debut in November of 2012, to a disappointing box office and critical reception.
6. MONSTERS UNIVERSITY (2013)
In Monsters University, Randall Boggs makes a batch of cupcakes in order to make inroads with the campus fraternities. In the U.S. version, the cupcakes read “Be My Pal,” while international versions of the Pixar film simply feature a smiley face. Pixar changed the cupcakes so that the joke would work for non-English speaking audiences.
7. DEMOLITION MAN (1993)
Taco Bell was the only restaurant to survive the Franchise Wars, which makes them the only restaurant in the future depicted in Demolition Man. But because Taco Bell isn’t a worldwide fast food chain, that detail was changed to make Pizza Hut the victor for the European version of the action classic. Sylvester Stallone and Sandra Bullock had to re-dub a few lines of dialogue and Pizza Hut’s logo was added in post-production. But if you look closely, you can still see a few Taco Bell logos in the background.
8. PLANES (2013)
The character Rochelle from DisneyToon’s Planes changed colors (and sometimes names) depending on the country with 11 different versions of the racer. In the United States, she’s pink, red, and white; in Australia, she’s red, green, yellow, black, and white with a kangaroo on her side. In China, her name is Yún Yàn Fēi and she has a red, yellow, and white paint job, while she’s white, black, yellow, and red and referred to as Heidi in Germany.
9. TOTAL RECALL (2012)
In the 2012 remake of Total Recall, there are only two surviving civilizations or zones in the world: the United Federation of Britain and New Asia. People from both civilizations travel between areas through a gravity elevator that runs through the Earth’s core called the China Fall. But when Total Recall was released in theaters, Sony changed New Asia to The Colony, while the China Fall was simply re-named The Fall. The movie studio changed it because they wanted Total Recall to be more palatable and acceptable to Chinese audiences and censors.
“It was one of the concerns of the studio about being so specific about … slanting too much to where we were saying that was the entire culture, and it’s not,” director Len Wiseman told Cinema Blend. “It’s meant to be a melting pot of an entire society … it’s two surviving zones and the working class is a combination, a melting pot, of many different races and cultures and such. If you look closely, you can still see remnants of New Asia in the remake. The character Doug Quaid (Colin Farrell) goes to The First Bank of New Asia to find a safety deposit box.