A film’s success isn’t necessarily measured only on commercial success, but how it holds up critically as well. Even films that don’t aspire for critical success can still seek to move the audience and provide it with a number of interesting and different feelings. Recently a remake of Ghostbusters was released, and despite the initial skepticism, it brought in a new audience that didn’t focus on comparing it to the original. Regardless of whatever their reasons were, some fans were not interested. However, the film has earned rave reviews and is definitely an example of a reboot that may prove to be successful. As you’ll see though, when there are a number of films that are remade, comparing them to the original can become difficult.
In some cases, films that are remade are regarded higher than the original. The film Scarface, for instance, is very highly regarded, and it wasn’t an original. While some films have been made three times over the course of the last century, other films have been made as many as seven times in various forms, with each one taking little more away from the original.
Which films did you think had the most reboots? Do we mention them below? Feel free to share the list on social media and let us know what you think.
15. You’ve Got Mail
Many moviegoers will remember the film You‘ve Got Mail starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Kathleen Kelly (Ryan’s character) is involved with Frank Navasky, a leftist newspaper writer for The New York Observer. Frank was dedicated to his work, while Kelly preferred working on a computer and logging into her AOL email using the screen name “Shopgirl”, where she reads an email from “NY152”, the screen name of Joe Fox (Tom Hanks’ character). But did you know that the film was based on the 1937 Hungarian play Parfumerie? Not only that, but it has been remade in various different adaptations. The first adaption of the story came in 1940 with the film, The Shop Around the Corner. It was once again adapted in 1949 and was turned into a musical, In the Good Old Summertime. You’ve Got Mail updates this classic concept with the use of e-mail.
14. Miracle on 34th Street
This classic Christmas tale has been remade four different times. If that wasn’t enough, it was also made into a stage adaptation in 1948. In 1947, Natalie Wood and Maureen O’Hara starred in the story of a little girl who believes that the man professing to being the real Santa Claus, is the same man playing the role in the Thanksgiving Day parade. In 1955 there was a one-hour film adaptation, titled Meet Mr. Kringle. In 1959, there was another made for television adaptation of the film that aired on NBC. Another version was released in 1973, and the most recent reboot of the film was released in 1994. The most recent version had a much more serious tone than the original, but still kept the majority of the plot and characters intact.
Often books don’t translate well on film, but that wasn’t the case with Carrie. Adapted from the Stephen King novel about a bullied teenage girl with telekinetic powers, it culminates in an explosion that even frightens viewers today. The image of Sissy Spacek, after having pig’s blood dropped on her as a prank as she was crowned prom queen is an iconic scene in film history. In 2002, Carrie was remade, this time into a television movie for NBC. While the remake was well intentioned, it is a scene by scene replica of what Sissy Spacey achieved twenty-six years earlier and all that did was remind people how much better the first one was. It was once again remade into a major motion picture in 2013. It was met with mixed reviews, receiving a 49% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but drew fairly well at the box office. The film had a budget of $30 million and drew in $85 million, which means Carrie may not have seen her last movie adaptation.
12. Show Boat
This film has had as many as four reboots made, including one version for television. The film’s plot was originally based on the novel by Edna Ferber. In 1929, Universal Studios released this film with some portions’ silent and other portions with some sound. Seven years later, director James Whale remade the film in 1936. In 1951, MGM studios’ remake used technicolor to help have their version stand out from the rest of the adaptations. The story and songs were similar to the 1936 version, however, there were some significant changes made to the details of the plot and the film’s characters. While you can understand why that could cause some backlash, it is largely regarded as the most commercially successful of the three remakes. As a result, it also has the rare distinctions of being one of the few remade films that were better than their original version.
11. Anna and the King
The original film which debuted in 1946 was loosely based on the 1944 biographical novel by Margaret Landon. The story is set in the late 19th story and is about Anna who is an English teacher in Siam who becomes the teacher of King Mongkut’s many children and wives. In 1956, the film was remade once again but this time under the title The King and I. Oddly enough, the 1956 version was a musical. In 1999, the movie was made into an animated feature and received harsh criticism, primarily because of numerous historical inaccuracies. However, it wouldn’t be the only adaptation that faced backlash. Another 1999 remake titled Anna and The King starred Jodie Foster and Chow Yun Fat. The Thailand government refused to have the film made there, and they also didn’t allow for distribution of the film as they believed that certain scenes may be seen as disrespectful and historically inaccurate.
10. The Jazz Singer
The film is a tale of Jakie Rabinowitz who breaks from his devout Jewish family’s traditions and has been made 4 times. He sang popular songs in a beer garden and is punished by his father because of it. Thus, he leaves home and takes on the name Jack Robin. He tries to build a career as jazz singer, but finds himself conflicted between his own ambitions and his very traditional upbringing and family beliefs. The original version was made in 1927 and commercially did very well.
In 1952, the film was remade starring Danny Thomas and Peggy Lee. A few years later, a television remake of the film was made, this time starring comedian Jerry Lewis. The film was once again remade in 1980 starring Neil Diamond. Unfortunately for Diamond, while the soundtrack for the film was strong, the film itself received less than rave reviews.
9. The Wizard of Oz
Whether it was the classic starring Judy Garland, or a Japanese anime feature, The Wizard of Oz has been remade as many as five times. The first instance was in 1910, just after the turn of the century. Audio wasn’t developed yet, meaning the film was a silent fantasy film. The second instance was in 1925 directed by Larry Semon. Eight years later the film was remade into an animated short film directed by Ted Eshbaugh. It was only six years later when the landscape of film changed forever when Garland would propel the character of Dorothy and her pursuit of the wizard into film history. It would be forty-three years later when The Wizard of Oz would be remade once again, but this time into a feature Japanese anime film. More recently, Mila Kunis took her own trip to the Land of Oz with her 2013 film, Oz the Great and Powerful.
8. The 39 Steps
This film was adapted from a novel by John Buchan which came out in 1915, with the movie coming out in 1935, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film has been remade no less than four times, and the novel was even adapted into a video game. The last remake of the film was in 2008 but was not true to the novel as the plot significantly changed. The original in 1935 was considered a huge success, perhaps because it included a nail-biting escape scene on the Fourth Rail Bridge. A remake in 1959 was loosely based on the novel but was considered sub-par in comparison to Alfred Hitchcock’s adaptation. The film was once again remade in 1978 and had an operating budget of $2 million U.S., but drew in only just over $1 million. The film grossed over $10 million worldwide two years after its release. The film was once again made in 2008, thirty years after its previous incarnation, proving that even if you think an idea is dead, you may be wrong.
One of the most notable actors of any generation was Charlton Heston, who starred in this film as Judah Ben-Hur. While it is considered one of the greatest films ever, it is not free from being remade. The film itself was an adaptation of the 1880 novel by Lew Wallace, which has received no less than seven reboots. The first film version came out in 1907, and 18 years later was remade once again as a silent film. It wasn’t until 34 years later that the iconic version with sound came out and featured Heston. The film captured eleven Oscars and received critical acclaim, as well as box office success. In 2003, an animated film featuring Heston’s voice was made as a direct to video release. Most recently, there was a miniseries in 2010 . In case you’re unaware, there is a new theatrical version that is set to be released in August.
6. Little Women
A film that has been remade over and over is Little Women. The movies are based on the novels by Louisa May Alcott which were released in 1868 and 1869. Initially, silent film versions were released in 1917 and once again in 1918, but there have been no less than four more additional remakes since then. With a freshness rating of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.4 out of 10 rating on IMDb, the 1933 version was a great success. It was also a commercial success as it had an operating budget of over $400,000 but grossed $2 million. The film was remade in 1949 and starred Elizabeth Taylor. While it wasn’t as critically received in comparison to the 1933 version, it was still very well received by audiences. The film was also remade in 1978 and 1994.
5. The Poseidon Adventure
Originally an adventure novel by Paul Gallico, it has been made into a film a number of times. The original version was released in 1972, and starred the late Ernest Borgnine and Gene Hackman. With an operating budget of just under $5 million, the 1972 version of the film has grossed over $127 million since its release. It also captured seven Academy Awards and four Golden Globe awards. So why tamper with success? However, Hollywood did, and the results were not nearly as well received. First, there was a sequel in 1979. Then, in 2005, the film was remade as a made-for-television film and was a critical flop. The film was once again remade in 2006 as a theatrical release and fared even worse than the television adaption. It earned a freshness rating of just 33% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a 5.6 out of 10 IMDb score.
4. Kiss of Death
Kiss Of Death has seen many incarnations, with the most recent being a television crime drama that aired in 2013. It was originally made in 1916 as a silent film in Sweden. Over thirty years later, director Henry Hathaway remade the film in 1947. The film centers on an ex-convict and his former partner-in-crime. The 1947 version received critical and two Academy Award nominations. The movie (keeping the same name) aired as a made for television movie in 1977, but it was not the same plot. However, in 1995, director Barbet Schroeder along with actor David Caruso took part of a more true reboot of the original film. In total, including the television drama, there have been four adaptations.
3. Four Feathers
E.W. Mason‘s 1902 novel was initially made into a silent film in 1915, and twenty-four years later the film was remade and aired in technicolor in 1939. It takes place during the reign of Queen Victoria and is the story of a man that is accused of being a coward. The remake in 2002 starring the late Heath Ledger is said to be the worst of the reboots of the film, largely due to historical inaccuracies. In this version, the British army was shown to be broken during battle, when in fact, they won the battle in the end. The movie had a budget of $35 million but was only able to bring in $29.8 million. Other criticisms included the attire in the film, as it didn’t properly reflect the period. In total, there have been six reboots. One of the more forgettable versions was a low-budget retelling of the story in the 1939 film, Storm Over The Nile.
2. King Kong
The massive movie monster is known the world over and has had multiple film versions made. It wasn’t just made in English, but also in Japanese and Italian. The original was in 1933 and earned notoriety when initially released. It was remade in 1976 and once again in 2005, not to mention numerous sequels in both English and Japanese. It has also spawned remakes, spin-offs, video games, cartoons, and comics. The first incarnation of the film was known for blazing a trail in special effects through the use of stop-motion. The 1976 remake wasn’t as well-received by critics, but did well at the box office, and was the co-winner of an Academy Award for special effects. When the film was remade once again in 2005, it earned critical success, capturing three Oscars for visual effects, sound mixing and sound editing. It received mainly positive reviews and box office success, grossing over $550 million worldwide. The film is being redone once again with Kong: Skull Island, expecting to come out in 2017 and stars Brie Larson.
The monster that terrorized Japan has seen 28 related films produced by Toho Studios in Japan. Some of these include Godzilla, King of the Monsters! and King Kong vs. Godzilla. There have been numerous U.S adaptations involving the character as well. Two U.S. productions were a version in 1998 and another in 2014. When we strip away all the sequels, spin-offs, cross-over films, cartoons and comics, the film known simply as Godzilla has been remade in the United States twice and once in Japan over the course of thirty years. As the years have passed the character has appeared less brooding and plodding, and instead a lot sleeker which was how the lizard had always been intended to look like. But with all the changes in special effects, it is understandable that the look and feel of the character has changed as well.