Aside from being outrageously funny, the films in Edgar Wright’s Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy — “Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz” and “The World’s End” — stand out for being uniquely and unabashedly British. Even the name of the trilogy comes from a dessert that isn’t available in the United States.
“The World’s End,” out this weekend, follows five childhood friends that reunite to finish the pub crawl that they couldn’t finish as young lads. As Wright and Simon Pegg explained to MTV News’ Josh Horowitz at Comic-Con, the Britishness of their first movie, “Shaun of the Dead,” is what made them keep things classy.
“I think what inspired us to make the other two movies was actually coming to the States and showing ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and seeing that people laughed at it just as much as they did in the U.K.,” Wright said. “That was very pleasing because there had been this idea before with some British films that you had to make them transatlantic to sell everything. You see a lot of British movies with American actors or actresses inserted in to make it more international. It was very pleasing to us that we made ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and people liked it for its Britishness, so we continued in that vein for the new one.”
Some considerations have been made for overseas audiences. In “Shaun,” the team adjusted two words to make it less confusing to Americans.
“There were two [changes]. There’s a make of pen called Biro. There’s a bit when Shaun says that the red on his shirt is pen. ‘Pen’ seemed like a funnier word anyway, so we changed that,” Pegg recalled. “We also changed the word, the annoyed word beginning with ‘p.’ ‘Pissed,’ in the U.K., means ‘drunk.’ In the U.S., it means ‘annoyed.’ We thought if this does get seen in America, if I say, ‘She’s so pissed’ as opposed to ‘so drunk,’ it’s going to seem like she’s so annoyed, which would spoil the joke because the joke is that Shaun sees a zombie and thinks she’s a drunk girl.”
Since then, however, there hasn’t been as much attention paid to what the American audiences will or will not understand. “That was the only time we ever looked forward to the day we might get to show our film in America,” Pegg said. “Otherwise, we don’t underestimate the U.S. for getting it. They do. You don’t have to patronize or pander. People are smart. They don’t have to be spoon-fed. They are all too often.”
“The World’s End” is in theaters now.