Forget the French: Canadian Bilingual DVD Artwork Atrocities


Here in Canada, we do things a little differently than our American neighbours to the south. Oh sure, on the surface things appear pretty similar, but it’s the little details that truly separate us… and some of those little details hurt. Case in point: Canadian law requires that all consumer product packages be labeled in both of our country’s official languages (English and French). This includes DVDs.

Now under most circumstances, this law is perfectly reasonable, even though the French-speaking population encompasses just over 20% of the population and is limited primarily to the province of Quebec. However, when it comes to movie titles and DVD artwork, it’s a slightly different story. Now you’re dealing with a piece of art, and slapping French titles onto the pre-existing packaging for an English language film can lead to some terrible eyesores. Plus, in a lot of cases, it doesn’t even seem necessary. Is there really a big difference between United 93 and United Vol 93? I think United 93 would suffice.

Now I know a lot of people will probably think this is a pretty anal thing to complain about, and maybe they’re right. But I also know I’m not alone here. For Canadian DVD collectors and fans of graphic design, this is a major pet peeve, and some people will even go out of their way to order DVDs directly from the U.S. just to avoid the French. This is not a knock against French-Canadians or the French language… in fact, I’m willing to bet that many of them would prefer the English artwork as well, since that is how it was originally intended.

I’ve provided a gallery of some of the biggest offenders below so you can judge for yourself!


The new Canadian Blu-ray release for Ghostbusters prominently features the French title, “S.O.S. Fantomes”. It’s definitely the first time in 25 years that I’ve ever heard the movie called such a thing.


Yes, the French word for pineapple is “ananas”. Ananas Express really rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?


If they have to provide a translation for the title, I prefer it to be in a small, non-descript font rather than trying to mimic the movie’s logo like this.


Same problem as the previous DVD.


The French title is so large that it almost looks like it’s a part of the English title. Couldn’t this be confusing for some people?


Another confusing translation since the French word for dresses is “robes”, which is also an English word. It makes it look like this could be a direct-to-video sequel where she tries on 27 different bathrobes to find the perfect one.


Isn’t this a little redundant?


Admittedly, it’s a pretty ugly cover to begin with, but the French titles at the bottom aren’t helping matters.


I suppose the pun in the English title wouldn’t really work in French, but still… “Max The Menace”? That’s the best they could come up with?


Literal translation of the French title: “Mr. Weather”. Is there no French word for “weather man”?


I’m sure no French-speaking person would know what movie this was if the abbreviations for Mr. and Mrs. hadn’t been translated properly.


I don’t understand why they had to add the french word for “flight” in here. They specifically left it out of the English title to distinguish it from the made-for-TV movie Flight 93.


I guess the title “Gattaca” wasn’t good enough on its own in French. They had to call it “Welcome to Gattaca” instead.


You gotta love it… just two-letters in the title, and of course, the French translation ends up being the reverse order.





Can you think of any other DVD covers that were ruined by terrible bilingual titles?

  • Janet

    Yeah, because that ghostbusters cover is such a work of art! It’s an atrocity to ruin the brilliant graphic design by adding on a couple of extra words.

  • Sam

    I agree that it’s annoying. The thing is, if it’s an american movie then the title, artwork and texts should be in english. If they want to make translations then do it with stickers or something, not the official booklet, cover pic, etc.

    Imagine you are buying for example a Cd by an american singer like Whitney Houston, would you want it to be titled “Whitney Houston – I Will Always Love You / Je t’aimerai toujours”? NO, it would stupid and annoying. The same goes for movies if they are american and were done in english. But they should definitely put stickers in french outside but they are removeable, that would be no problem.

    Btw I’m in Quebec and speak both french and english, but I do find it annoying because I just bought a blu ray and it’s written “La Montee de la planete des singes”. I didn’t pay attention, next time I’ll buy it from the US. And I would say that if I was in the USA, and I wanted to buy a dvd of a french movie, I would also be annoyed if there’s some english translation all over the box cause that was not the original product/intent.

    The funny thing is, I never see it on music albums, it’s only movies.

  • Maz

    Vive le Québec libre!!!

  • Nadia

    Oh, what an atrocity to see a smaller title in French under the English title…(!)
    What a bunch of HATERS…
    That is the atrocity..

  • Yannick

    It boggles the mind to see a member of the privileged majority so comfortable in his privilege that merely seeing a french subtitle offends him, even though most of the French subtitles are much smaller than the English title. Some of them, you need a magnifying glass in order to see it.

    I’m not saying that it should be absolutely necessary to have a subtitle of the title. Personally I am satisfied with a “V.F. Incluse”. The latter is necessary, because me and family members have been burnt before, buying a DVD in the store thinking that in Canada there would be the French dub on it, only to see that it didn’t.

    I even had to illegally hack a DVD player for my mother so that it will play DVDs from Europe, because the TV series and movies she wanted to buy in Canada did not come with the dub or subtitles in French. The dub exists, has for decades, but for some reason the companies were lazy and now we have to paradoxally break the law in order to purchase DVDs legally. Technically this should not be legal, but no one gives a fuck, so here we are.

    Pedram – the problem with separate versions is that unfortunately the manufacturers will only produce one version if that is the case. Also, forget about trying to find it in the stores in this day and age.

    Sam – it is not the same. Music is never translated, because the lyrics are often not an essential part of the experience, unlike the dialogue of a movie. These movies are coming with a French dub, you are in effect buying two versions at once. Hence the subtitle. Likewise you won’t see books with two titles.

    In the era of VHS, tapes could only come in one language, so there was no tiny print. Now, insomuch as manufacturers can be bothered, manufacturers want to kill two birds with one stone, so they put all of the languages on one disc. Some of the aforementioned European DVDs come with more than ten languages on them. Why is it so hard to have some French in Canada?

  • John Anthony

    i was brought here by the clip show.

    je m’appelle ghostbusters?!

  • John Vasiliou

    Yeah I’m one of those people that orders their movies from the US.

    Can’t stand the Bilingual shit.

  • Matthew

    (Written by a non-Francophone Torontonian)

    1) I actually love the French on the covers

    (And I actually would like them if they were equal size to the English)

    (or I like English on one side with tiny French and on the other side French
    with tiny English and flip it depending on the Quebec or rest of Canada)

    2) Are you also saying that a cover with French is inferior to that of one with
    English? Or is the problem the crowding? (See attached pictures of Blue is the
    Warmest Colour DVDs)

    3) When movies are shown in theaters in Quebec and France and other French
    speaking places, they are shown under a French name. Which a lot of the
    companies involved do researched and testing for which

    a) makes it weird how they keep choose bad French names for films

    b) is most often what they put on the DVD, which when the title is vastly
    different from the English title is why it may be necessary to put it on the

    4) I just realized why does the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act not
    apply to CDs but DVDs? I guess because the lyrics are in English and DVDs are
    dubbed or subtitled.

    Also I attached the French movie poster using SOS Fantômes

  • Matthew


  • Matthew

    I guess I can’t add pictures? :(

    Cause the ones I uploaded aren’t showing up….

  • Charles Dittemore

    i am from the usa and i would love to have all of that. i would order the bilingual covers any time.

  • Steve

    OMG I hate the French titles everywhere here in Canada. It’s so stupid especially on BluRay discs and DVDs and CDs. I’m trying to figure out how to buy directly from the USA specifically to avoid the useless bilingual format.

  • Eggs

    Chiming in really late after this article, but the new Disney boxes are horrific. They almost made the French text larger than the English. So frustrating as a collector.

  • Sky Commander

    I loathe bilingual DVD covers they look like garbage and I tend to get my DVD covers signed so it’s either all English or nothing for me. I mean could they at least have reversible covers one all English one all french.