Remakes are all the rage lately, as any avid moviegoer is keen to realize. Why wouldn’t a company want to make one? If you loved the original, bring yourself (and potentially your child, depending on the film and the gap between it and its remake) and experience the same joy again. A recent report shows that remakes have always been prevalent in film during the new millennium, but they have actually fallen out of favor with audiences. In 2005, 17% of the 100 highest grossing U.S. films were remakes and that figure has been steadily declining down to just a mere 4% in 2017. Sure, remakes can be an extremely lucrative technique that allows companies’ profits to go through the roof, but like with all business practices, the larger the reward, the larger the risk. Many companies will throw dozens of millions of dollars at these films wholly expecting a profitable return on investment, yet, are heartbroken when the film downright bombs.
We’ll be looking solely at remakes in this article. If you want to hear about the massive hits and the complete flops for reboots and sequels, then Screen Rant has already got you covered. There are some pretty great remakes that performed poorly at the box office and vice-versa. Regardless of the audience’s/critic’s opinion on these films, we’ll stick with the facts and just look at who showed up to see them. Here are 15 Remakes That Were Massive Hits (And 15 That Were Complete Flops).
The stars were aligned for the film to be a hit. It had a prolific director who had Bridesmaids, The Heat, and Spy under his belt. Also, some of the funniest women on the planet with Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones starring.
It’s just too bad that the concoction of poor writing, and how audiences didn't exactly rush out to theaters for this gender-swapped remake of the 1984 comedy, made for an egregious flop. The film made $16 million less domestically than its budget and erased any chance of there being another Ghostbusters in the near future; whether it be a remake or a sequel.
The Departed is currently ranked as the 40th top rated movie on IMDb’s Top 250. Before winning its four Oscars (one of which being best picture), it raked in $132,384,315, a sizable take for an R-rated crime drama.
What many people that year didn’t realize is that the film is actually a remake! Mou Gaan Dou (Internal Affairs) is a foreign film out of Hong Kong that caught the eye of The Departed screenwriter, William Monahan. Guinness Book of World Records actually has The Departed as the first, and only, remake to ever win best picture at the academy awards.
Where does one even begin when talking about The Wicker Man. Well first, the facts: it’s a remake of a surprisingly liked 1973 horror film by the same name, it’s directed by Neil LaBute, and stars a bunch of people, but the only thing people can remember from the film is that it’s one of the “Nic-Cageiest” of all the Nicolas Cage performances.
He may only be seen now as a father figure in a Christopher Nolan movie, but back in the day, Michael Caine was just as suave as any English actor. Caine lead the 1969 crime-comedy romp, The Italian Job, which was remade by F. Gary Gray 34 years later.
The film starring Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron took in $106,128,601, more than enough to brand it a success. There was also a planned sequel titled The Brazilian Job, but it seems to be nothing more than a wish at this point. In other news, next for F. Gary Gray is the long-awaited Men in Black International set for 2019.
Despite some pretty stellar reviews, no one turned out to the see the remake of the horror film, Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In). Director Matt Reeves, hot off Cloverfield, decided to remake the film as an indie horror with Chloë Grace Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee as the adolescent leads.
The film made back 60% of its budget and didn't resonate with anyone other than critics. However, Reeves would redeem himself and go on to direct the final two-thirds of the Planet of the Apes reboot trilogy.
Most film fans are probably aware that Cheaper by the Dozen is a remake of a 1950 film of the same name. What they may not realize is that both films are actually based off a true story. The novel was based on Frank Bunker Gilbreth Sr., who actually had 12 children, one of which, Frank Bunker Gilbreth Jr., would go on to write the novel.
The 2003 film was a heartwarming comedy that was the perfect family film for all ages. Fox saw huge returns and greenlit a sequel that got even worse reviews while making around $50 million less than the first one.
This is a special one: The Thing (2011) is a remake of The Thing (1982), which is, in fact, a remake of The Thing from Another World (1951). The ’82 version was a moderate financial hit, yet, it has become a bona fide classic in the eyes of horror filmmaking. The 2011 remake took the plot from the John Carpenter film, but it forgot to add the passion.
The film made $16,928,670 off a $38 million budget; not even making back its budget when including foreign sales. Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Joel Edgerton starred in the film, though their star-power didn't have the strength it does now.
I Am Legend is a remake of the 1971 Charlton Heston film The Omega Man. Francis Lawrence directed I Am Legend just two years after his feature debut, Constantine, and has since directed three of the four Hunger Games films.
I Am Legend performed absolutely incredible and made $256,393,010; over $100 million than its budget. The film was one of the first blockbusters to prove that opening a film in December can be just as lucrative as releasing it in the summer. The film is one of the few remakes to completely outdo the original unanimously in every way.
Remember that bad Tom Cruise remake of The Mummy (2017) that was unsuccessful? What if there was a Universal horror film that performed even worse? The Mummy (2017) domestically made 64% of its budget back, while The Wolfman domestically made 41% of its money back. The revenue of both the films combined doesn’t even equal The Wolfman’s $150 million budget, which is a remake of the 1941 original of the same name.
Universal has been unsuccessful in trying to get their classic monsters to make a resurgence, with Van Helsing, Dracula Untold, The Wolfman, and The Mummy all being major flops.
When Cinderella’s $201,151,353 is the lowest grossing film of Disney’s live-action remakes, you know you’re in good shape. The 1950 film has been one of Disney’s most beloved and came out right in the middle of Disney’s fairytale boom during the 40s-60s.
Actor turned director Kenneth Branagh brought the generations-old story to life with CGI that seemed to be magic itself. Branagh is no stranger to adaptations, having turned stories from other mediums into films such as: Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, Hamlet, Thor, Cinderella, and Murder on the Orient Express, to name a few.
Know what’s not a good sign? When your 2006 remake can’t generate more revenue than the 1972 original, before it’s adjusted for inflation ($60,674,817 vs. $84,563,118, respectively). Poseidon is a remake of the Gene Hackman classic, The Poseidon Adventure.
The 2006 remake was directed by legendary action director Wolfgang Peterson who had directed classics like Das Boot, Air Force One, and A Perfect Storm. Then, 2006 came around, Poseidon was released, and his tenure in Hollywood came to a close. The films foreign sales recuperated it enough to cover the enormous budget, but not nearly sufficient when accounting for marketing and distribution costs.
That heart-warming Disney movie that you probably caught on ABC family, Freaky Friday, was made for less than any of the films in our flops and made more than any of them. The film starred Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis and received stellar reviews, along with $110,230,332 (550% of its $20 million budget).
The film is a remake of the 1976 film of the same name that actually had Jodi Foster in the role that Lindsay Lohan reprised. The original had pretty lackluster returns, so the fact that Disney took a gamble and it actually paid off is a testament to their ability to make anything a hit.
The fact that this film even exists is pretty downright comical. Gus Van Sant, hot off his Good Will Hunting success, decided to make a shot for shot remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 classic. The cast was something to marvel at with Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche, Julianne Moore, Viggo Mortensen, and William H. Macy.
The remake was fine and everything, but it was a replica of a film that has actually aged quite incredibly. The result was Universal throwing $23 million down the drain after world-wide sales. Van Sant has never been a lucrative director, having made over a dozen films with only one grossing over $100 million.
The Jungle Book is Jon Favreau’s first Disney directed film, but he surely got in good favor with them. The 2016 film had a massive budget of $175 million, though it took in over double with $364,001,123 domestically; thanks in large part to the Oscar-winning visual effects.
Disney’s original came out in 1967 and has been one of Disney’s favorite cartoons since. Disney doesn’t actually own the source material though, so Warner Bros. decided to make their own version, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, with Andy Serkis directing and Netflix distributing. Favreau’s next live-action Disney remake is The Lion King, which is set for 2019.
Spike Lee had one of the worst box office flops of most major directors. Oldeuboi (Oldboy) is a 2013 foreign action film that is rated #67 on IMDb’s Top 250 films of all time. The 2013 remake made $2,193,658 (7% of its $30 million budget).
Maybe it was marketing, or maybe no one asked for the remake, but audiences refused to go. Lee is a great filmmaker at times, with Inside Man and Do The Right Thing being successes. Oldboy just happened to be neither a critical or commercial success.
This one has The Thing (2011) beat. A Star is Born (2018) is a remake of a 1976 film, which was a remake of another film (1954), and was based off another film (1937). Bradley Cooper’s 2018 version is far and away the most popular and is the 11th highest grossing film of 2018.
The $193,918,438 it has taken in is an incredible 646% of its $30 million budget. The film is Cooper’s directorial debut and Lady Gaga’s first leading role in a feature. The film is expected to clean up at the Oscars, with GoldDerby having the film as the frontrunner to win best picture.
The original Point Break is a 1991 action-crime film that is more or less the visualization of testosterone, but somehow comes together as a fun flick in part to Kathryn Bigelow’s direction. The 2015 remake reeks of corporate greed and throwing a film into production just for the money and not for the art.
Somewhat deservedly, the film didn't make any sort of a profit, bringing in $28,782,481 off its $105 million budget. The film opened in the prime slot of Christmas weekend and failed to generate even $10 million during its first weekend.
Just a year before he’d show the world what a true blockbuster looks like with his Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, Gore Verbinski took the PG-13 horror world by storm and conjured up $129,128,133 domestically with The Ring. As is just common knowledge now, The Ring is a remake of the horror film Ringu from Japan.
The success of The Ring made adapting foreign horror films all the rage, and soon enough, America had The Grudge, Pulse, The Eye, Shutter, Mirrors, One Missed Call, and The Uninvited all within five years. The Ring bred The Ring Two and Rings, the latter of which debuted 15 years after the original and holds 8% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The one blemish on Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson’s career has to be the remake of the 1951 sci-fi flick of the same name. The idea was pretty simple; take an old movie with a great premise and add to it the special effects that weren’t around back in its day.
The only issue was that audiences now-a-days aren’t as wowed by space-invaders alone anymore. There needs to be something more and the 2008 version didn’t offer it. The film took in $79,366,978; much less than Fox had hoped the Keanu-Reeves-vehicle would produce.
Want to have a pretty great hit? Take an under-appreciated 50s horror film and give it to one of the masters of body-horror David Cronenberg, with acting legends Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis to star.
The Fly made $40,456,565 back in ’86 ($93,596,430 in ‘18) off a $15 million budget. It’s said that if a film makes twice its budget back it’s a success, and The Fly made nearly three times it. Though it’s a remake, it’s far and away more popular and beloved than the original ever was. Cronenberg has fallen out of favor with Hollywood in the new 2010s and unfortunately, has nothing scheduled for the future.
Paul W. S. Anderson’s Death Race is, to many people’s surprise, actually a remake of the 1975 David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone starring Death Race 2000.
Death Race was actually favorable with critics and held a pretty stellar cast of Jason Statham, Joan Allen, Ian McShane, Tyrese Gibson, and Jason Clarke. The film holds positive critic and audience reviews, just no one went to see it, and it ended its domestic run with only $36,316,032 off a $45 million budget. It has spawned three straight-to-video sequels, each more ludicrous and over-the-top as the last.
Before he found his niche with spectacular visual effects, Zack Snyder directed one of the most fun and cherished zombie films in recent memory. This 2004 remake jump-started Snyder’s feature film career, and what a successful (and polarizing) career it has been.
The original ’78 version was the second in George A. Romero’s “of the Dead” saga, coming a decade after Night of the Living Dead. 1978s return was $5,100,000, roughly one fourth of the remake's $59,020,957 when adjusted for inflation. 1973s The Crazies was another of Romero’s films to produce a successful remake with 2008s The Crazies, which earned nearly double its budget.
Legendary Muppets actor and Yoda himself, Frank Oz, directed the 2004 remake of The Stepford Wives. The original debuted in 1975 and starred Katharine Ross coming off her roles in The Graduate and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
The 2004 sci-fi comedy cost a massive $90 million, which was understandable with a cast consisting of Nicole Kidman, Matthew Broderick, Bette Midler, Christopher Walken, and Glenn Close. The film made a lousy $59,484,742 and would be the second to last feature that Oz ever directed. It was the beginning of a slump for Kidman, who would star in the equally poor reviewed Bewitched the year after.
After Peter Jackson’s epic Lord of the Rings trilogy wowed audiences, he pretty much had free rein to make whatever he pleased. And what he pleased to make was an over three-hour visually spectacular remake of the 1933 classic, King Kong.
The film had been remade before in 1976 with Jeff Bridges, but without the technology for a realistic looking ape, it was laughably panned. The film was the most expensive at the time of its release, yet, didn’t garner quite the returns it was hoping for in the states, only making $218,080,025. Where Universal lucked out was that the film made roughly 60% of its total revenue overseas.
Two Matthew Broderick flops not even 12 months apart. The Producers took in $19,398,532 off its $45 million budget. The 1967 Mel Brooks production is a marvel of entertainment highlighting the quirkiness and wit of the writer/director. The remake has its supporters, but sits right at 50% on Rotten Tomatoes.
It was sadly director Susan Stroman’s first and only directed film, quite possibly because of its poor box office results. Nathan Lane and Will Ferrell do their best to liven up the film, but audiences didn’t see them as enough to make buying a ticket worth it.
The mid-2000s sure had a lot of remakes (in case anyone’s keeping score, the last seven films on the list were released in a three-year period). The Longest Yard was a fun and silly time (like most Adam Sandler films) that had the rare feat of featuring an actor from the original in a completely different role.
Burt Reynolds starred in the 1974 film of the same name as the protagonist, but then switched to the coach for the remake and let Sandler play the lead. The film made roughly double its $82 million budget back, but was unsuccessful overseas (as most U.S. football films do).
The second to last film before the tragic passing of Tony Scott, The Taking of Pelham 123 is an action-thriller starring John Travolta and Denzel Washington that’s based off the 1974 film of the same name (kind of): The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. The film’s $100 million budget was matched with only $65,452,312, making it one of Scott’s biggest flops.
The ’74 film’s success hinged on the relationship between leading men Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw. While Denzel Washington and John Travolta are good actors in their own right, they didn’t bring the patter and chemistry that they should have.
Despite some pretty great horror flicks, only one of director Alexandre Aja’s films has resonated with audiences. The Hills Have Eyes grossed $41,778,863; maybe not enough to mark most films a hit, but surely one with a $15 million budget.
Wes Craven’s original was itself a pretty big sensation with a very, very low budget ($230,000) and only the director’s second film after The Last House on the Left. Wes Cravens other films to be remade in the 2000s would be the aforementioned The Last House on the Left and A Nightmare on Elm Street, with both collecting pretty rough box office numbers.
The Charlton Heston 1959 epic ties Titanic and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King for being the only films to take home 11 Oscars. Its remake won a “Sequel or Remake that Shouldn’t Have Been Made” award.
The 2016 film made $26,410,477, while the original made $74 million in 1959. When adjusted for inflation to the 2016 dollar, it raked in 616,825,720.00 (more than any film on this whole list). The remake lost nearly $75 million and kicked director Timur Bekmambetov out of Hollywood. Probably for good. Ben-Hur (1959) is one of the most prestigious films ever made and Ben-Hur (2016) is arguably one of the most insignificant.
A bit of trivia that most cinephiles already know, Beauty and the Beast (1991) was the first of three animated films to ever be nominated for best picture at the Oscars (the others were Up and Toy Story 3).
The 2017 remake is the 12th highest grossing film in the States and 14th worldwide. Bill Condon of Twilight Saga fame directed the adaptation with Emma Watson and Dan Stevens playing the title characters. The movie is the highest grossing remake of all time, bringing in just over $½ billion domestically.
What’s your favorite remake? Or one that you think was unnecessary? Let us know in the comments!