These days, it seems that every other movie announcement is a remake or an adaptation. For some, it may be frustrating, but for others it is exciting news. A remake gives filmmakers a change to add new ideas and fix the issues that fell flat the first time around. In the case of certain films, this opportunity is desperately needed.
There is a chance that the remake won’t be any better than the original, but, as the old saying goes, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” And this is exactly what studios do. Many popular movies have received anywhere from two to five remakes– some even more.
For the purposes of this article, a “remake” is defined as a film that keeps the same story throughout the plot. In contrast, a “reimagining” simply takes the bare bones of the story, but changes important core details to make it an original idea.
Here are 15 Popular Movies That Have So Many Remakes.
15. Beauty and the Beast (1991, 2011, 2017)
Walt Disney Studios has been leading the charge when it comes to movie remakes. And, after the success of this year’s Beauty and the Beast, they don’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. Emma Watson‘s portrayal of Belle had most fans applauding Disney’s updates. However, this isn’t the first remake of the classic story. CBS Films also took a run at the story in 2011, with their film Beastly.
Starring Vanessa Hudgens, Mary-Kate Olsen, and Alex Pettyfer, Beastly brought the fairytale to high school hallways. As a result, the enchanted household items were nowhere to be seen. In this remake, Kyle (portrayed by Pettyfer) wasn’t actually a hairy beast, but he was just as harsh and vain. The film opted to take a darker tone, and, despite Hudgens’ pipes, no songs were included.
14. I Am Legend (1964, 1971, 2007)
Like many movies, I Am Legend was originally based on a book. The first movie was called The Last Man On Earth and debuted in 1964. The movie stuck closely to the book due to the fact that the screenplay was written by Richard Matheson, the author of the original novel. After rewrites, he didn’t want his name in the credits. However, he is listed under the pseudonym Logan Swanson.
The Last Man On Earth was later remade in 1971, its title changed to The Omega Man. Matheson had no influence on the screenplay, but the basic plot remained the same. The only difference came in the portrayal of the infected civilians. The remake got decidedly mixed reviews, so Hollywood tried again in 2007.
Will Smith has made plenty of films, but few were better than his performance in I Am Legend. The remake combined elements from the original film and the 1971 remake, creating just the right mix. I am Legend became the sixth most successful movie of the year, and set a record for highest-grossing opening for a December film.
13. Seven Samurai (1954, 1960, 2016)
The Seven Samurai was a Japanese movie released in 1954. It told the story of a village of farmers who hire seven independent samurai. These samurai are employed to fight off the bandits who plan to steal the farmers’ crops after the harvest. Since its release, the film has been considered one of the greatest films ever. Today, fans know it as the hit film The Magnificent Seven.
The film was remade into an American western in 1960. The story stayed the same, but, instead of remaining samurai, the fighters were transformed into to gunslingers in order to create a better Western adaptation. In 2013, the film was chosen by the Library of Congress to be entered into the United States National Film Registry.
Even after being chosen for eternal preservation, The Magnificent Seven was remade yet again in 2016. The film did well enough, but survived more on star power than story, as it included Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, and Ethan Hawke.
12. Freaky Friday (1976, 1995, 2003)
The 2003 remake of Freaky Friday is generally the most recognized version of the film, but it’s actually the third incarnation. The original film debuted in 1976, starring a young Jodie Foster. In this version, there is no explanation for the switch between Anabel (portrayed by Foster) and her mother, but it does take place on Friday the 13th.
In 1995, ABC turned the story into a TV movie, which aired as part of The Wonderful World of Disney. The studio changed a few more details, using magical amulets to explain the switch, but kept the story intact. Freaky Friday marked the fourth TV adaptation of a Disney movie by ABC that year.
Finally, Disney arrived at the 2003 remake starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan. Like most remakes, it was updated to reflect the times and once again made some changes, mainly to the character of Anna.
11. Carrie (1976, 2002, 2013)
One of Stephen King’s most popular stories, Carrie has become a horror staple. The novel first became a film in 1976, starring Sissy Spacek, John Travolta, and Piper Laurie. The movie drew largely positive reviews and netted Spacek and Laurie with Academy Award nominations. It was widely considered one of the best films of the year.
In 2002, Carrie was remade for television. The movie updated the events of the story to a modern-day timeline, but still stayed true to the original for the most part. That said, the filmmakers did take a giant leap and changed the ending. The change was made solely because the film was intended to be the pilot for a Carrie television series, but it never came through.
In an effort to return to the original storyline, Carrie was given another remake in 2013, starring Chloe Grace Moretz. Though the cast was widely praised, the movie itself was criticized as unnecessary, since it didn’t appear to add anything to the original 1976 film.
10. Annie (1982, 1999, 2014)
If there’s one thing to bet your bottom dollar on, it’s that Annie will never truly disappear. The lovable, curly-haired orphan was first introduced in the 1982 film. The film marked the debut of Aileen Quinn as Annie, with a fairly star-studded cast backing her up. Bernadette Peters, Tim Curry, and Carol Burnett made up the villainous trio of Lily St. Regis, Rooster Hannigan, and Miss Hannigan respectively.
In 1999, Annie hit the small screen in the made-for-television film remake created by Disney. The ensemble was once again loaded, with Kathy Bates, Victor Garber, and Audra McDonald all snagging roles.
Then, in 2014, Annie surfaced again. Though the story was the same, the movie was thrust into the spotlight for casting Quvenzhané Wallis as the titular orphan. Jamie Foxx became Daddy Warbucks – despite rumors of a different musician eyeing the part – and was renamed Will Stacks.
9. Godzilla (1954, 1998, 2014)
Today, Gozilla is monster royalty. The giant, fire-breathing dinosaur first came to theaters in 1954, originating in Japan. Some North American theaters played the movie in predominantly Japanese neighborhoods, but the English-subtitled version wasn’t released until 1982. The film didn’t premiere commercially, and instead it made the rounds at film festivals in major cities.
In 1998, Hollywood made its first attempt at the story, casting Matthew Broderick as Nick Tatopoulos. Where the original film garnered mixed reviews from critics, Hollywood’s Godzilla got generally negative reviews from critics in both Japan and North America.
In an attempt to correct the previous missteps, Gareth Edwards was hired to direct a brand new remake in 2014. It was the first film in Legendary’s MonsterVerse, and got the job done. Godzilla received mostly positive reviews and the beast is set to appear again in 2020.
8. Spider-Man (1977, 2002, 2012, 2017)
In 1977, Nicholas Hammond was the first actor to don the spider suit in the made-for-television movie Spider-Man. The film served as the pilot to a 1978 television series called The Amazing Spider-Man. The series was short lived, but it was the first live-action adaptation of the comic character.
Today, the main Spider-Man argument is Tobey Maguire vs. Andrew Garfield. Maguire played Spider-Man in Sam Raimi’s trilogy, beginning in 2002. This version follows Peter’s journey from high school student to photographer for the Daily Bugle, all while balancing his new powers.
In Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man, Andrew Garfield becomes the web-slinger. In this set of movies, Peter’s role at the Daily Bugle isn’t explored, and his love interest is Gwen Stacy, rather than Mary-Jane Watson.
While both the 2002 and the 2012 remakes included Peter’s origin story, this summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming will likely not.
7. The 10 Commandments (1923, 1956, 1998)
Watching The Ten Commandments has become an Easter tradition for many families. Usually it’s the 1956 version starring Charlton Heston. However, there are other options to choose from. The 1956 movie is the second telling of the story on film, which followed the 1923 silent film. Directed by Cecil B. DeMille, the 1923 film was a huge success, despite criticisms of it being set in modern times.
The 1956 retelling was also directed by DeMille, but exchanged the modern-day storyline for an exploration of Moses’ early years. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards in 1957, including Best Picture.
The Ten Commandments was given the animation treatment in 1998, with the release of The Prince of Egypt. It marked the first traditionally animated film by DreamWorks, and was the most successful non-Disney animation of the time.
6. Pride and Prejudice (1938, 1940, 2005)
Pride and Prejudice has seen more remakes over the years than most movies. The first film adaptation was in 1938, as a made-for-television event. The story moved up to the silver screen in 1940, and was praised by critics, but less so by the studio. Despite solid reception, the movie actually lost nearly $250 thousand.
The story was adapted into a miniseries and television series in 1980 and 1995 respectively. It wouldn’t become a movie again until 2005, casting Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet. At the time, the 1995 TV series was widely considered the best adaptation of the novel, so the film was met with plenty of skepticism from fans… until it pulled in four Oscar nominations.
Though not truly a remake, 2016’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies does deserve an honorable mention here, if only for it’s oddness.
5. The Longest Yard (1974, 2001, 2005)
Adam Sandler has had some great movies, as well as some truly rough ones. The Longest Yard is mercifully one of the better ones. But it’s not an original story from Happy Madison Productions. The original version of The Longest Yard premiered in 1974.
Burt Reynolds originated the role of Paul Crewe, a former pro quarterback who is arrested and tasked with creating a prison football team. The 1974 movie was well received, and now sits at an 81% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Between the original and the Adam Sandler’s 2005 remake, there was another remake of The Longest Yard in 2001. This film was called The Mean Machine, and boasted stars like Vinnie Jones and Jason Statham. The story remained the same, but as a British film, the plot was changed to revolve around soccer, rather than American football.
4. The Hulk (1977, 2003, 2008)
Like Spider-Man, The Hulk first came to screens as a movie in 1977 after appearing in a TV series. The Incredible Hulk was a two-hour movie that served as the pilot for the TV series of the same name. Bill Bixby starred as Dr. “David” Banner, and The Hulk was played by Lou Ferrigno. The film tackled the Hulk’s origin story, where his experiments with Gamma Radiation went awry.
In 2003, Marvel Enterprises took full advantage of the developments in CGI technology and created Hulk. Eric Bana played the green monster. The film snagged Marvel founding father Stan Lee as a writer, with Ang Lee directing. Though it had a solid performance with critics, fans were not so pleased, and it scored 61% on Rotten Tomatoes.
In 2008, Marvel Studios hired Zak Penn and Louis Leterrier to make another pass at it. Edward Norton played The Hulk, but eventually left the role for artistic reasons.
3. King Kong (1933, 1976, 2005, 2017)
Of all movie monsters, King Kong is one of the biggest and baddest. The ape was first introduced in 1933, when King Kong was widely considered one of the best monster movies of all time. The film currently ranks on Rotten Tomatoes as the 30th greatest movie ever. The movie was especially noted for its use of stop-motion animation. With the evolution of technology, a remake was nearly inevitable.
The first King Kong remake came in 1976, starring Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange. As expected, the filmmakers capitalized on new tech, and were rewarded with the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, with additional nominations for Best Cinematography and Best Sound.
There have been two more remakes of the film in the last 12 years, and the success hasn’t stopped. The 2005 reboot snagged three Academy Awards for Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects. The 2017 version, Kong: Skull Island, is currently the fifth most successful movie of the year.
2. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956, 1978, 1993, 2007)
Alien invasion thrillers are becoming more and more popular, but Invasion of the Body Snatchers will always be one of the classics. First introduced in 1956, the movie told the story of extraterrestrial beings taking over human bodies and assimilating their thoughts, memories, and personalities, while draining them of emotions.
The film was initially remade in 1978, starring Donald Sutherland, Jeff Goldblum, and Leonard Nimoy. With a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is considered one of the best film remakes ever – but the 1993 version gave it some solid competition.
Debuting at the Cannes Film Festival, the 1993 Body Snatchers even managed to impress film critic Roger Ebert. He considered it the best remake of the movie and gave it four out of four stars.
In 2007, Invasion of the Body Snatchers was remade a fourth time. Starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, The Invasion displayed that more isn’t always better. It was widely disliked by fans and critics alike.
1. Night of the Living Dead (1968, 1990, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2014, 2017)
If there’s one movie to watch around Halloween, it’s Night of the Living Dead. Though the film was widely criticized for its gore, it immediately became a cult classic. The story follows seven people who are trapped in a farmhouse fighting off a growing horde of zombies.
The film was remade in 1990, but a little too well. Audiences were generally upset at the lack of inventiveness, with Roger Ebert critiquing that “the remake is so close to the original that there is no reason to see both.” For those who wanted an even deeper experience of the movie, there was the 2006 remake. Night of the Living Dead 3D had the horrors popping out of the screen.
Because the original was never copyrighted correctly, Night of the Living Dead remakes continue to rise up like the zombies they depict. The film saw three more remakes after Night of the Living Dead 3D, and is set for another this year.
Which of these remakes was your favorite or least favorite? Let us know in the comments.
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