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Russian Fans Revolt Over Title Translation of Star Trek Into Darkness – Distributor Responds

Two weeks ago TrekMovie reported that in Russia the local distributor chose an alternative title for Star Trek Into Darkness. The title (translated as "Star Trek: Vengeance") was one of those tested for the film but lost out to "Into Darkness" everywhere but Russia. Since the announcement some Trek fans in Russia have tried to get the decision changed and yesterday they even got a meeting with the Russian distributor. Get all the details below in a report from TrekMovie’s Moscow correspondent.  

 

Russian Trek Fans Try To Change Title Translation

As everybody know, in Russia we have a lot of strange traditions, and one of them is translating titles of foreign movies with a little, if any, respect for original. Up until now Star Trek movies and TV shows were fortunate enough to avoid this. For example JJ Abrams 2009 movie Star Trek movie was translated to "Звездный Путь,” which was how "Star Trek" had been presented before in Russia and translates literally as “a road to the stars” or “a road in the stars.” However, the new movie Star Trek Into Darkness got another treatment, and it’s official Russian title is «Стартрек: Возмоздие» (first word before colon being meaningless transliteration of words "Star" and "Trek," blended into one, and second word can be rather accurately translated as "Vengeance").


Russian poster for "Star Trek: Vengeance"
(aka Star Trek Into Darkness)

Usually that would be the end of the story, but this time a group of stubborn Russian Trek fans decided to make their concerns heard. Shortly after the Russian title was officially announced, a petition was put online to try and compel the distributor Central Partnership to change the title. The petition site www.startrek2.ru was started by Igor Pylaev (organizer of Russian sci-fi convention “Starcon”), and it expresses the frustration of the Trek fans in Russia quite clearly. The petition states in part (translated to English)…

We want a proper Russian title for STID!

In the past “Star Trek” was always translated as «Звёздный Путь», which is true even for the 11th film. Using meaningless «Стартрек» in title of 12th film is just illogical, not to mention incompetent.

Also, “Into Darkness” is an original and intriguing title, while “Vengeance” is just lame cliché.
Direct translations, like «Звёздный Путь Во тьму» or «Звёздный Путь: Во тьму», are true to original meaning, and sound just fine.

Soon after the petition went online it was picked up by most of the Russian sci-fi web-portals and communities (including the biggest Russian Star Trek site www.trekker.ru). In just a few days over 4,000 fans signed the petition.

Russian Distributor responds to fan concerns

The petition did not go unnoticed by the powers that be. Pylaev tells TrekMovie that after the petition started spreading around the fan community Central Partnership’s PR people reached out and invited him to a press event yesterday (the nine-minute preview was being screened for the local media in Moscow). Speaking to TrekMovie following the event, Pylaev said the people at Central Partnership expressed their sympathies to the fan concerns, but noted that the translation they chose was based on feedback from focus groups of over 5,000 Russians film goers. So with that in mind, they are not inclined to make any changes. However, Central Partnership did say it is possible they could add something like «Основано на саге Звёздный Путь Дж. Родденберри» ("Based on Star Trek by G. Roddenberry") as a subtitle.

While the title treatment for this new film is different than how previous Trek films have been treated, it is understandable that CP may want to make changes to how the new movie is being marketed. The 2009 Star Trek film was actually the first film in the franchise to get a wide release in Russia. Past Star Trek films have been mainly distributed on TV and home video. And while the 2009 Star Trek movie was the #1 film in Russia for its opening weekend, it finished its run with just $4.1 million in total, ranking it 49th for the year. Compare that to a film like Terminator Salvation which made less than Trek in the USA but $14.5M in Russia (ranking it 12th). So the approach with the title is part of Central Partnership’s goal to find a larger audience for Star Trek in 2013.     

In another positive development from yesterday’s meeting, Central Partnership did say they would seriously consider using the Russian Trekker community for help and feedback during the dubbing translation process (as they did with the 2009 Star Trek movie). Translation work is planned for March 2013, and involving the Trek community could actually prove to be more important than the title. Most fans feel that studios do not do good translations of sci-fi movies and TV series.


Russian poster for 2009’s "Star Trek"
– where film underperformed relative to other markets

Oleg Ryzhikov is the editor of Russsian Trek site www.trekker.ru. He is also part of the team that manages Russia’s sole Star Trek convention "RusCon," which celebrated it’s 12th year this summer. Follow Oleg on Twitter: @elfwine.
 

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aligee
December 19, 2012 11:05 am

Interesting!

dmduncan
December 19, 2012 11:08 am

Passion for Trek in Russia! Cool!

Rose (as in Keachick)
December 19, 2012 11:09 am

I could not understand why the distributor did not do an accurate translation of Star Trek Into Darkness, because that is what the film is called!

Kroll
December 19, 2012 11:17 am

In Soviet Russia Stars trek to you!

Luther Sloan
December 19, 2012 11:19 am

I’m from Argentina, we are trying to change the release date from AUGUST to may..

MJ
December 19, 2012 11:20 am

Thank God!!!!

Curious Cadet
December 19, 2012 11:21 am

Is it me, or the fact that Star Trek fans with a Russian website using the meaningless-in-Russian “startrek.ru” title complaining the meaningless-in-Russian “Стартрек” title for the new film is kind of ironic?

If this were such a big deal, shouldn’t the Russian URL reflect the translation of “a road to the stars”?

Clearly Russian fans know what Star Trek means.

I guess I see the point of the “Into Darkness” issue, otherwise.

chekov
December 19, 2012 11:23 am

Ensign Pavel Andreievich Chekov must be a god over there!

Trek is universal. I was surprised at the Trekdom in France once, decades ago.

Stargazer54
December 19, 2012 11:24 am

Cudos comrades!

cw
December 19, 2012 11:28 am

Guy: What do you think?
Guy 2: He’s a Ruskie.
Guy: That’s ridiculous, of course he’s a Ruski, but he’s a retard or something…..

J
December 19, 2012 11:32 am

@Anthony Pascale: we have a similar fight in Poland regarding the movie title – it’s called “W ciemnosc Star Trek” which would literally translate “Into the darkness of Star Trek”.

The case got attention in the media, a major news portal gazeta.pl wrote about it a couple of days back.

pilotfred
December 19, 2012 11:33 am

nice.

Sunfell
December 19, 2012 11:34 am

I hope the fans can get involved- better translation will happen. I hope this will be true for all non-English versions.

Lt. Bailey
December 19, 2012 11:37 am

Nice to know that ST has fans in Russia that care about a 1960’s TV show and what it spawned as much as we do.

Trekzilla
December 19, 2012 11:38 am

Who cares what the movie’s called? They ought to be happy they get the film at all!

That poster on the bottom looks like a mushroom cloud in San Francisco Bay — I’m sure those Rooskies loved that poster!

Little p-brane
December 19, 2012 11:46 am

Russia isn’t the only one with such issues I’m afraid. But I think it’s awesome they petitioned. What I consider bullcrap is how the distributor responded.
At least in Poland we got “W ciemność Star Trek”, which is a literal translation. It just sounds a bit awkward. They are pretty determined not to call Vulcan Vulcan. No. We have Wolkan instead.
Our SF shows and movies are really not translated well, either, so I feel their pain. I hope they’ll influence they distributor some more and get at least consistent title.

Captain Hackett
December 19, 2012 11:51 am

If the Russian communist government still exists today, those Trekkers would be sent to Siberia!

December 19, 2012 11:53 am

@Trekzilla
I really want to meet these “Rooskies” sometime, should be facinating!

Elias Javalis
December 19, 2012 11:57 am

We Greek fans must revolt if it should be called:

ΣΤΑΡ ΤΡΕΚ : ΕΙΣ ΤΟ ΣΚΟΤΟΣ

or

ΣΤΑΡ ΤΡΕΚ : ΕΚΔIΚΗΣΗ

Whatever, Greek Dumbing sucks more than the titles!! :):):)

Michael Hall
December 19, 2012 12:05 pm

“If the Russian communist government still exists today, those Trekkers would be sent to Siberia!”

Right. Instead, they send up young female rockers who offend the delicate sensibilities of Vladimir Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church. Personally, if I had to make a choice I’d send the Trekkers (Trekinskis?), who don’t seem to have a better sense of proportion, or humor, than those over here. *Sigh*

Ahmed
December 19, 2012 12:06 pm

@ 17. Captain Hackett – December 19, 2012

“If the Russian communist government still exists today, those Trekkers would be sent to Siberia!”

Well, our comrade, former KGB officer & now the Russian President, Putin did sent members of the “Pussy Riot” band to Siberia.

John Tenuto
December 19, 2012 12:15 pm

Hello Oleg

Congratulations on getting attention to something you believe in! Thanks for informing fans from other countries!

A fellow fan from the U.S.

John

KHAAAN the weasel
December 19, 2012 12:18 pm

Well, I guess distributors in Germany can consider themselves lucky, that the switch from the German title of TOS, “Raumschiff Enterprise” (‘Starship Enterprise’), to “Star Trek: xyz” had already occurred in 1979 when TMP came out.

Oh and if you allow me to touch on a completely different topic:
Have you heard the news about the possible discovery of a planet in the habitable zone of the Tau Ceti system? – Maybe they have finally discovered “real-life Vulcan” (even though it would most likely look nothing like the rocky, barren Vulcan we know)!
Check it out: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-20770103

Trekzilla
December 19, 2012 12:21 pm

#17, 21 — So true. There is only the illusion of some freedom in Russia today (hey! Kind of like here in the US!!). Ask Pussy Riot.

Putin is basically a dictator. Medvedev was his puppet…

My problem isn’t with the Russian people, but with the thugs who run their government.

Captain Hackett
December 19, 2012 12:26 pm

Remember that Putin used to be a KGB agent. No wonder.

December 19, 2012 12:32 pm

7. Curious Cadet – December 19, 2012

Is it me, or the fact that Star Trek fans with a Russian website using the meaningless-in-Russian “startrek.ru” title complaining the meaningless-in-Russian “Стартрек” title for the new film is kind of ironic?

____________________________________________

The website is using English startrek.ru which is not meaningless – it’s in English.
However, when you take the words star + trek and simply replace Latin symbols with Cyrillic ones it becomes meaningless because Russian is not “English with different symbols” so you just do that and suddenly “it makes sense in Russian” but a whole different language. “Стартрек” does not mean anything, in any language.

btw – “Звёздный Путь” is A Road Made of Stars

Trekzilla
December 19, 2012 12:32 pm

#25 — Once KGB, always KGB.
Anyone notice how the Russian thugs prop up and support every rogue state on the globe? Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, China…Syria…all buddies with Vlad.

Michael Hall
December 19, 2012 12:36 pm

Trekzilla–

True. But don’t be so quick to let the Russian people off the hook, since the polls showed that the overwhelming majority had no problem at all with Pussy Riot’s imprisonment. I tend to suspect that it wouldn’t be a much different story over here, and that our Trek fans would also be more concerned about film titling than doing anything to trumpet the cause of free speech–that is, helping to bring about the brighter future Gene Roddenberry wanted us to believe in. As someone who drew hope and inspiration from the series and Roddenberry’s college lectures during the ’70s, that’s what strikes me as the real pity in all this.

KHAAAN the weasel
December 19, 2012 12:38 pm

Geezers, is this actually dwindling into a discussion about the Russian government, peppered with soviet-era clichés and bias?
Guys, get a grip!

Recent actions by the Russian government have undoubtedly been dispicable but this has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with this article.

DeShonn Steinblatt
December 19, 2012 12:52 pm

Could be worse. The Japanese title translates roughly as:

Star Trek: Who the f@ck is Gary Mitchell?!

Anthony Thompson
December 19, 2012 12:53 pm

27. trekzilla

The US has a LONG tradition of supporting rogue states / dictatorships. Saudi Arabia, Chile (post-Allende), Mubarak’s Egypt, and – worst of all – Israel, which practices oppression and state terrorism (secret nuclear program, assassinations, kidnappings and torture). The US can not claim the high road!

Anonymous Bastard
December 19, 2012 12:55 pm

Again, it is clear the JJTrek movies are not made to appeal to any ST fans. They polled 5000 general movie-goers, not ST or even general sci-fi fans.

Actions like this make it clear these movies are for consumption by a general public who has little to no understanding of what makes ST unique and special.
I get the feeling it would have been ‘Star Trek Explosions and Laser Fights…’ if they thought they could get away with it.

Anthony Thompson
December 19, 2012 12:56 pm

Russian fans, you guys are awesome! Best of luck to you all! Please ignore the xenophobes on this thread.

Curious Cadet
December 19, 2012 12:58 pm

@26 Iva,

I see what you’re saying.

I was thinking branding. While Star Trek means something in English, if you are Russian and don’t read English then it’s meaningless to you, but recognizable as a brand name. Kind of like Coca-Cola/Coke, which is more or less meaningless as work in English as well.

But thanks for the clarification, in other words, in Russian “Стартрек” is completely meaningless. It couldn’t even be a proper name? Or as in a brand name like “Coke”? I’m just trying to get a context … So even in Russian there are no brand names that otherwise make no sense or are proper names either?

That said, either way, it seems to me that Paramount is attempting to establish a brand identity for Star Trek in Russia as if it had no pre-existing presence, or at least a significant one. This seems to be an ill-advised poorly thought out plan if so.

So if I understand you correctly, if Paramiunt is trying to establish a brand name, then it would be far more preferable to simply use the English “Star Trek” like they do with some other American products in Russia?

December 19, 2012 1:04 pm

Stop with the politics guys

TheMightyChip
December 19, 2012 1:02 pm

@29 KHAAAN the weasel: Totally agreed.

On a lighter note: Does anyone else think the Russian ST09 poster at the bottom looks totally bad@ss??

Trekzilla
December 19, 2012 1:02 pm

#28 — Yep, I agree! :-)

#31 — The reason the US supported those regimes is that the alternative is much worse (as we are seeing now). The devil you know, vs. the devil you don’t. And please, you actually think The Muslim Brotherhood (who promotes sharia law) is better than Mubarak? HAHA!!!

I won’t count the reasons why that’s a crazy idea!

As for Israel — Israel can be trusted to not use nuclear weapons first (unless maybe some day against Muslim lunatics such as Iran some day). Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. Israel has the nukes — but I’m not worried about that. The ones more likely to use nukes are the ones who are prepared to commit suicide at the drop of a hat.

Anyway, this thread is not for this type of discussion…and it’s clear you don’t know what you’re talking about.

December 19, 2012 1:05 pm

Abrams team is doing very little to appeal to the world audience, both from the perspective of the movie story itself to the way it gets promoted. It’s why it ranks so low outside of USA.

Matthew McColl
December 19, 2012 1:13 pm

In Spain we have a slightly altered wording of the translation but, in my opinion, it has changed the meaning vastly.
We have it translated as: Star Trek en la oscuridad. Which means: Star Trek IN Darkness. A direct translation of ”Into Darkness” would have been ”hacia la oscuridad”, so I do not know why it was changed.

Drij
December 19, 2012 1:15 pm

“Star Trek: Vengeance” sounds better then “Star Trek Into Darkness”….

KHAAAN the weasel
December 19, 2012 1:17 pm

@30: Dangit, you had me on that for a minute!

December 19, 2012 1:22 pm

34. Curious Cadet – December 19, 2012

Foreign brands tend to be kept in their language of origin and the alphabet that comes with it. If you’re a fan you just learn to pronounce it :D the brand is famous enough you don’t really need to know what it means.

This “replace them with Cyrillic” is usually done with names that have no meaning in their original language either – like Coca Cola because you lose nothing in translation – there’s no translation going on it’s just adapted to a different way of pronouncing words.

Other way brands get established is to translate them in Russian (if they have a meaning), as Star Trek has been (Звёздный Путь) and roll with that.
Given that Звёздный Путь is decades old and established, trying to roll with “Стартрек” now is not only a bad business move, but given that “Стартрек” is literally “let’s just replace it with Cyrillic and hope nobody notices it’s mock-Russian/ we don’t give a F” is also mildly insulting.

AJ
December 19, 2012 1:28 pm

It’s a tough choice: They could always compromise and use “Звёздный Путь: Возмездие” to keep consistency within the franchise. “Звёздные Войны” (Star Wars) is quite well known and appreciated in Russia, and would partially stem, among older fans, from Ronald Reagan’s anti ICBM program during the Cold War which was covered ad nauseam in the Soviet press.

Huw Evans
December 19, 2012 1:34 pm

In Welsh (one of the languages of Wales, a constituent country of the UK), Star Trek translates as ‘gofod yn y dyfodol yn dangos taith’ (future science space show)

KHAAAN the weasel
December 19, 2012 1:37 pm

@37: Thanks for putting your foot down, Anthony! No only had this discussion gone totally off topic, but some comments also showed that kind of barely veiled contempt towards Russians, that really pisses me off. And I’m not even Russian!

@35: Good to see someone share my concerns.
Oh and concerning the poster: It sure looks kinda badass, but it also looks awfully un-trekky… more like something you’d expect to see in some bloody Michael Bay movie. But well, that’s how you market a trek movie towards an audience that’s unfamiliar with Star Trek.

December 19, 2012 1:38 pm

when i said stop with the politics it wasn’t a suggestion

Oleg aka Elfwine
December 19, 2012 1:42 pm

People, please, just stop all this political and stereotipes nonsense, it’s really crazy, and article above has absolutely nothing to do with it.
Also, don’t assume something about people you know nothing about – if anyone argues with incorrect translation of movie title, it certainly doesn’t mean, that he has no opinion and doing nothing about political situation in his country.

Again, please don’t. It’s about Star Trek, for crying out loud!

December 19, 2012 1:42 pm

46. KHAAAN the weasel

Yeah the poster doesn’t look “Star Trek” to me either. It’s like – I look at it and no ST related thoughts appear, I think of Terminator to be honest.

KHAAAN the weasel
December 19, 2012 1:45 pm

@44: Did they also rename Scotty as “Welshie”… sorry, I just had to!

Oleg aka Elfwine
December 19, 2012 1:45 pm

@46 thanks, Tony, just thanks!

Clinton
December 19, 2012 1:48 pm

Color me impressed, Russian Star Trek fans.

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