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250 million USD. That’s what it cost to make “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (Avengers 2), and then there are marketing costs on top…but this is obviously a good investment, as the film grossed between $190 million and $230 million in box office takings on the first weekend alone.

In China the film attracted a record number of viewers and generated $33.9 million on its opening day, which was China’s biggest ever weekday opening.

There has, however, been controversy over the translation of the Avengers film – with the subtitles shown on screen not reflecting the phrases the actors are saying. Some complaints have been raised over errors such as:

Captain America saying “You get hurt, hurt ’em back. You get killed, walk it off,” translated into Chinese as “Run fast if someone tries to kill you.”

The line “son of a bitch” (apologies for the language!) was translated to “my old familiar friend”, and “go be a hero” was translated as “you are my hero”.

“How much did they spend on translating it into Chinese?” I hear you cry. Well, unsurprisingly, the budget for translation does not seem to have matched that spent on the film’s stars – Robert Downey Jr was paid $50 million for the first film and other members of the cast were reported as earning anywhere between $2 and $6 million each.

In fact, well-placed sources claim the translation into Chinese was done for only £200!

Liu Dayong was the main translator for the Chinese subtitles. When he was criticised Wang Jinxi, who was responsible for the translation quality of the movie, defended Liu and his team, saying that they had to go through 20,000 words in less than 10 days and the total cost was less than 2,000 yuan. That translates to £205.98, which for a translation of 20,000 words is completely ridiculous. It means that the translation must have been done on automated translation systems, with very little, if any, human checking of the results.

At Accutranslate we feel strongly that correct translation of a company’s documents, website – and film subtitles – reflects the consideration given to the customers in that market. The Chinese film-goers who saw Avengers 2 have enjoyed it less because of the confusing translations, and it speaks volumes that the film company left the translation to the last minute, and tried to do it at minimal cost.

How can your business avoid the same errors?

Be honest with yourself about the value of the market to you.  If you want to impress and convince customers in another country, don’t skimp on translation – they will be getting a different message, loud and clear: “We don’t care enough about you to spend money on translating our documents accurately”.

Allow time for a good translation, and allow budget for a human translator – machine translation is never going to transmit your message as well, and will sometimes be embarrassingly wrong.

If you are prepared to spend more than £200 on reaching your major overseas markets, then you should talk with Accutranslate. We’ll make sure that your message gets through in an accurate, colloquial, up-to-date translation of your product, that shows your customers that you do care about them. Try us once, you’ll see the difference!