So what happened to the original title of Yasmina Reza‘s God of Carnage play in its transition into a Roman Polanski film? Sony Classics announced this morning that they’ll be releasing Polanski’s Carnage, which costars Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz, at the end of the year. But without explaining why they (or producer Said Ben Said) have dropped the words “God of.”

3:45 pm Update: A publicist for the film just told me that the decision to change the title “was made by the producer [Said Ben Said] and Polanski.” She also said she hadn’t been told why they made the title change, and that no additional information would be forthcoming. I also tried to get an answer directly from Sony Classics — zip.

One possible answer is that somebody in marketing is afraid that right-wing yahoos might be offended by a Roman Polanski movie that mixes the words “God” and “carnage.” This is belied, of course, by the fact that Reza’s play has been a huge coast-to-coast hit for the last two years with thousands of Average Joes (including hinterland tourists) paying to see it and laughing their asses off. But perhaps the Polanski name plus the title might turn off a certain segment of the audience, and so they’re playing it safe.

That or Sony Classics is afraid that God of Carnage sounds too much like a video game. And just plain Carnage doesn’t?

Here’s my original reaction to the Broadway play, posted in March 2009.

There’s no allusion in Reza’s title to any vast, all-encompassing entity, of course — it refers to a secular deity that brings out our savage instincts. You’d think that even dumbshit yahoos could figure this out.