A case can be made that Hollywood hasn’t had an original movie idea in decades. Instead, studios opt to play it safe and invest in franchise films rather than taking chances on original ideas. Thus, the explosion of the remakes, sequels, prequels and eventually the inevitable overhaul of a film franchise, known as the “reboot.”
Yes, reboots and sometimes single remakes (reboots that weren’t strong enough for sequels) typically spell big box office returns and often breathe new life into an old and sometimes stale series. Nevertheless, it can also make us regret that we ever trusted filmmakers to capture the virtue and essence of the original work. For every great reboot, like J. J. Abrams’ 2009 version of Star Trek, there are plenty of other reboots and remakes that just don’t cut it.
Here’s our list of the 10 least successful reboots and remakes. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Enjoy!
Godzilla has been delighting audiences around the world for decades. However, the 1998 big budget reboot found very little love from critics. It was the third highest-grossing film worldwide that year, taking in $379 million, but the film only scored 16% on Rotten Tomatoes. Additionally, the movie won two Golden Raspberry Awards for worst supporting actress and for worst remake or sequel. It was also nominated for worst picture, worst director and worst screenplay.
Initially, Godzilla was expected to break the $90 million four-day Memorial Day opening weekend record held by Jurassic Park: The Lost World, but it couldn’t hold a candle to Spielberg’s film, with most critics scorning the movie for its failed attempts at humor, lack of a plot, mediocre visual effects and superficial resemblance to Jurassic Park. Nevertheless, Godzilla returned in 2014 with another reboot, which went on to gross $528 million worldwide.
No one likes to see a Gus Van Sant movie on the list, but his 1998 remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Psycho is so bad that it earned him two Golden Raspberry Awards for worst remake or sequel and for worst director. It could be argued that the film is not a real remake, but rather a duplication, as Van Sant recreated the 1960 classic shot-for-shot, trading Anthony Perkins for Vince Vaughn as the creepy motel-owner Norman Bates and trading scream-queen Janet Leigh for Anne Heche as Marion Crane.
Holding a 37% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, critic Roger Ebert said the film “demonstrates that a shot-by-shot remake is pointless.” Even Van Sant admitted it was an experiment that proved no one can really copy a film exactly the same way as the original. Later, the franchise was more successfully rebooted with the A&E series Bates Motel, which was recently renewed for a fourth season.
Planet Of The Apes (2001)
Some people consider Tim Burton’s 2001 remake of Planet of the Apes a successful reimagination of the sci-fi classic. However, with a 45% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a general consensus on the same site that “this remake of Planet of the Apes can’t compare to the original,” it makes this list. Likewise, awards went both ways on this one.
The film was nominated for two BAFTAs, but took home awards for worst remake or sequel at the 22nd Golden Raspberry Awards. The film was the ninth highest grossing movie worldwide in 2001, taking in $362 million, but this big budget version disappointingly departs from the 1968 original with an ending that leaves much to the imagination, and the studio decided not to go ahead with the sequel that was clearly teased at the end of the film. Instead, the apes returned a decade later with the well-received Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a franchise reboot that eventually led to its own sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
Some remakes aren’t just bad, they’re downright awful. The 2002 remake of the 1975 classic Rollerball, known for its dystopian vision of the future and gruesome depictions of the violent, titular sport, is a prime example. After American Pie hunk Chris Klein was cast in the lead role, some wondered whether he had the chops to take over from beloved character actor James Caan, who starred in the original film.
As it turns out, the remake was heavily panned by the critics, garnering only a 3% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It made their list of 100 worst reviewed films of the 2000s, down at the 28th spot. The Rotten Tomatoes critic consensus? “The film was a complete flop at the box office earning almost $26 million compared to its production budget of $70 million.” It’s hard to argue that this remake should have ever been made at all.
The Wicker Man (2006)
Can’t Nicolas Cage just leave a good thing alone? Apparently not, because his 2006 remake of the 1973 cult classic The Wicker Man was not only a financial flop but a critical nightmare. This unintentionally funny film tells the story of a police officer who travels to a remote community after the disappearance of a young child, only to become embroiled in a conspiracy by the townsfolk.
Taking in a mere $38 million worldwide, it made for one of Cage’s least successful releases. Likewise the film only holds a 15% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was nominated for 5 Golden Raspberry Awards, including worst picture, worst actor (for Cage), worst screenplay, worst remake and worst couple. If it’s any consolation for star Nicolas Cage, however, his performance has become ripe for memes. It’s a truly legendary example of his signature eccentric acting style.
The Invasion (2007)
Although the 1956 The Invasion of the Body Snatchers already had a 1978 remake, that didn’t deter Hollywood from re-imagining this story yet again in The Invasion. Nicole Kidman stars as a psychiatrist who, with the help of a doctor friend (Daniel Craig) discovers a mysterious epidemic that has extraterrestrial origins.
Despite being helmed by the acclaimed director of Downfall, the film could only muster a measly 19% on Rotten Tomatoes, where it was slammed for being too slick and lacking suspense. The film also only grossed $40 million worldwide. In addition, the movie’s happy ending doesn’t sit well with fans of the two previous horror films.
A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010)
The classic 1984 horror film A Nightmare on Elm Street successfully launched one of the top-grossing horror franchises in America as well as giving us a substantial reason not to go to bed at night. However, this 2010 remake of the film, starring Jackie Earle Haley as the iconic Freddy Krueger, missed the mark.
Though this A Nightmare on Elm Street took the number one spot with its opening weekend, it still fell short of projected earnings. It only holds a 15% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes with the general consensus being that it is “visually faithful, but lacking the depth and subversive twists that made the original so memorable.”
Clash Of The Titans (2010)
2010’s Clash of the Titans, starring Avatar-lead Sam Worthington, was so bad that it was nominated for the worst prequel, remake, rip-off or sequel and worst eye-gouging misuse of 3D at the 31st Golden Raspberry Awards. Though the film didn’t “win” any of those “awards,” it only scored a 29% on Rotten Tomatoes, with the general consensus on the critic site that the film “doesn’t offer enough visual thrills to offset the deficiencies of its script.”
Despite the lack of love for this mythological remake, it was modestly financially successful and took the top spot at the box office for two weeks in a row, which eventually lead to an even more poorly received sequel, Wrath of the Titans.
Total Recall (2012)
1990’s Total Recall, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone, is considered a classic sci-fi flick. However, 2012’s Total Recall was panned by critics. Surprisingly (or maybe not), replacing Ah-nuld with Colin Farrell wasn’t such a popular move. Len Wiseman’s remake scored a dismal 30% rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and the general consensus on the site was “[w]hile it boasts some impressive action sequences, Total Recall lacks the intricate plotting, dry humor and fleshed out characters that made the original a sci-fi classic.”
Likewise the film performed poorly at the domestic box office, taking in only $58 million, but luckily it was a bigger draw overseas taking in $139 million. The film only turned a profit because of its international box office receipts.
Terminator Genisys (2015)
It might be a little early to say that Terminator Genisys belongs on this list, but with only $304 million worldwide (to date), the movie performed poorly enough to make Paramount Pictures reconsider their larger Terminator franchise plan. The film was supposed to re-launch the franchise into a new trilogy that centers around a new plot twist that turns John Connor, hero of previous Terminator films, into a villain.
Time will tell before we know if Genisys can turn a profit but it already has “theatrical flop” written all over it. However, it’s not all doom and gloom for this film, as Terminator Genisys has taken the number one spot in 28 countries around the world, despite a 26% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Of course, reboots and remakes are nothing new. Even a classic film like The Maltese Falcon was based on another film. So it’s possible we may have missed some other, worse, remakes and reboots out there. If that’s the case, then feel free to let us know in the comments below!