Fox Apologizes For Napoleon Dynamite's Misleading Japanese Title

Due to the fact that some direct translations of movie titles can be confusing, it's not an uncommon thing for studios to change the name of their films when they are being released in foreign markets. That, however, was not what happened when 20th Century Fox first released the Jared and Jerusha Hess-directed comedy Napoleon Dynamite in Japan back in 2006. Instead of keeping the original title or at least changing it to actually reflect something about the movie, the company instead decided to rename it Bus Man. While this was partially excused by the fact that the opening scene of the indie takes place on a school bus, Fox's real motivation behind the title change was to try and link the film to an extremely popular growing franchise in Japan called Train Man. And now, a full seven years after trying to deceive audiences, the studio is apologizing for their actions.

Kotaku has picked up a story from Yahoo! Japan that says Napoleon Dynamite will be getting a home-video re-release this October and that the copies will be sold with a note from the studio that asks for the Japanese consumer's forgiveness. According to the source, the movie will be retitled Napoleon Dynamite and will include an "official apology" on the slipcover that reads, "It was truly inexcusable for us to take advantage of an opportunity at the time and to give the movie such a title."

Below you can compare the original Japanese cover for the American movie to the one for Train Man. The font for both titles is very similar, and Kotaku adds that Train Man's font was actually a big part of the film's branding.

Napoleon Dynamite Japan Poster

Train Man Japan Poster

Considering that the plot of Napoleon Dynamite doesn't have any similarities to Train Man (the latter is a love story about a man and woman who fall in love after he rescues he from an attacker on a train), I wonder how exactly Fox came to the conclusion that they needed to try and trick audiences with their movie. Was the indie comedy really such an impossible sell that they couldn't see any other option? Or was it that they were really trying to get in on the Train Man money and just chose Napoleon Dynamite to rename at random? Very strange indeed.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.