Alternative title

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An alternative title is a media sales device most prominently used in film distribution. Books and films are commonly released under a different title when they are screened or sold in a different country. This can vary from small change to the title, such as the addition of The, to wholesale changes. Film titles are also often changed when they are released on DVD or VHS.


The reasons for this are varied, but usually point towards marketable, linguistic or cultural differences. Some titles may not be easily understood in other parts of the world, and may even be considered offensive. Most title changes are commercial. An example is Italian director's Sergio Leone's 1971 film Duck, You Sucker!, initially released with this title as he was convinced it was a well-known English saying. When the film performed poorly, it was subsequently rebranded as A Fistful of Dynamite, similar in name to his 1964 film A Fistful of Dollars, part of the successful Dollars Trilogy.

When Scholastic Corporation bought the U.S. rights to Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, they thought that a child would not want to read a book with the word "philosopher" in the title and,[1] after some discussion, the American edition was published in September 1998[2] under the title author J. K. Rowling suggested, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.[3] Rowling claimed that she regretted this change and would have fought it if she had been in a stronger position at the time.[4] Academic Philip Nel, who specialises in children's literature, has pointed out that the change lost the connection with alchemy.


  1. ^ "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone". The Harry Potter Lexicon. 2 April 2006. Retrieved 12 January 2009.
  2. ^ "Meet Author J.K. Rowling". Scholastic Inc. Archived from the original on 2013-12-12. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
  3. ^ Eccleshare, Julia (2002). "The Publishing of a Phenomenon". A guide to the Harry Potter novels. Continuum International. pp. 7–14. ISBN 0-8264-5317-1. Retrieved 15 May 2009.
  4. ^ "BBC "Red Nose Day" Online Chat Transcript". BBC. MuggleNet. 12 March 2001. Archived from the original on 14 December 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2013.