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If a film flops in the US, can Hollywood make it a hit in the UK

01:00 Mon 14th Jan 2002 |

A.� It's a well-known fact that films which have had disappointing takings or a less-than-positive critical reaction undergo some kind of transformation crossing the Atlantic. In some cases, films bypass the cinema altogether�or - even more likely�- the title of the film is altered.

Q.� Which films has this happened to

A.� Most recently, the comedy Saving Silverman has been renamed Evil Woman�and�is due to be released in the UK early in 2002. The film, which stars Amanda Peet, �Jason Biggs from American Pie, and Jack Black from High Fidelity, is a different version of the one released in America last Spring.
The title switch is a refence to the ELO song covered on the soundtrack. It's also five minutes longer than the version passed for UK theatrical release, under its original title,� by the BBFC last year. The film clashed with Hannibal when it opened to lukewarm takings in the US, and now the story of a bunch of Neil Diamond tribute singers trying to prevent one of their band members (Biggs) from marrying the evil woman of the title (Peet) is hoping to fare better in British cinemas.

Other films to switch titles include Luc Besson's The Messenger retitled Joan of Arc, the remake of the film classic Nikita, directed by John Badham, which started out as Point of No Return in America and became The Assassin in Britain; and The Professional , which was retitled Leon for the British audience.

Last year Laura Ziskin's novel Animal Husbandry was given the screen treatment and released in America as Someone Like You, a romantic comedy starring Ashley Judd and Hugh Jackman. By the time it reached British cinemas it had become Animal Attraction.

The Sylvester Stallone thriller D-Tox, started out as Detox, and was changed to The Outpost, before becoming Eye See You, and finally was switched to its current title for release in Britain next month.

Q.� Is a film has really flopped, why don't they just can it

A.� Hollywood is never keen to shelve a film it has invested in. They can always release a film straight to video with no advance fanfare. It's often viewed as a dumping ground for films which have failed to make the grade, but often it's a question of finances.

Releasing films in the cinemas can cost a lot of money, and if the promotion and advertising costs are too prohibitive, a film will go straight to the small screen. Several high profile comedies have bypassed the big screen recently: Committed, starring Heather Graham, Boys and Girls, with Jason Biggs, and Company Man, whose cast includes Sigourney Weaver, John Turturro and Woody Allen. Even the Russell Crowe film Mystery Alaska and Lawrence Kasdan's Mumford went to video first.

The 1998 the sci-fi thriller Soldier, made with a $75 million budget, debuted to video - much to the surprise of critics.

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by Katharine MacColl

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