Russian Fans Revolt Over Title Translation of Star Trek Into Darkness – Distributor Responds December 19, 2012by Oleg Ryzhikov , Filed under: Fandom,Marketing/Promotion,Star Trek Into Darkness , trackback
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.