There are several ways to translate movie titles. Word-for-word translation does not always work. Translators often attempt to attract the audience and so they sum up the main idea of a movie or create something completely new. If you know some foreign languages, you understand that a lot of phrases usually have no equivalents in the target language. So, the translators often have to be creative and compensate the deficient vocabulary. Moreover, they have to deal with a marketing department that demands a vivid title that would roll off the tongue.
The most hilarious movie titles are produced by Chinese translators. Whether it is a result of the vocabulary discrepancies or their rich imagination, the back translation (English-Chinese-English) is nonsensical.
For example, Chinese sign for the word “story” is literary translated as general mobilization. So the names with this word will sound rather militaristic.
Toy Story in Chinese sounds like Toy General Mobilization and The Incredibles also become more threatening—Super People General Mobilization.
Chinese people describe the content and the idea of a movie in a strange way. This kind of titles is particularly interesting to read. The most famous story about a killer The Professional was translated as This Hit Man Is Not As Cold As He Thought. In general, it is a good example that will attract attention but it is also one major spoiler for the whole movie. It seems, that translators in the PRC like to use long descriptive titles. Therefore, a movie Free Willy was translated as A Very Powerful Whale Runs To Heaven.
Yet, some translations are so good that they sound even better than the original names. While most countries had to translate an iconic western Once Upon A Time In The West literary, China tried to be creative and used the name Western Department of Memories thus breaking the chain of bad translations.
Do you know a movie named Sniper Without A Shadow? Chinese people use this title for an old American movie The Manchurian Candidate. In fact, it ended up being even better than the original.