There is nothing like watching a story unfold on film. When it comes to movies, sometimes there are gems so successful that they’re considered immortal masterpieces. With blockbuster hits, though, comes the inevitable temptation for film producers to recreate that success, by unearthing an old story and giving it an updated interpretation. And so, the remake is born. Remaking a classic, successful movie is always a risky endeavor – and often the remake is a major flop because it’s doomed to be compared to the original. Generally, fans of the original will hold the remake up to impossibly high standards: They love the characters, actors, and stories of the past, so it can be hard to accept a new adaptation.
An original film’s success is normally about much more than a good story. A successful film has much to do with the production., the creative team and the context in which the film was released. Recreating that dynamic is, of course, nearly impossible, so while a new and fresh adaptation can bring something different but equally interesting to the table, many remakes end up falling short as nothing more than bad imitations of the original.
A remake of a successful movie, then, inevitably draws huge attention from the immense fan base of the original. And when a movie is so anticipated, it has a long way to fall: So, of course, there are some movie remakes that flopped and failed to epic proportions. Here’s the list of the top ten movie remakes that didn’t manage to recapture the magic, and instead immortalized a failed attempt at creating movie gold. With any opinionated top ten lists based on reviews there will be disagreements – but the numbers don’t lie when it comes to box office gross. These are the remakes that, whether you like them or not, failed to measure up and both bombed at the box office AND in the opinion of the critics, in comparison to the success of the original.
10. Godzilla 2000 (2000) – $10,037,390
When the original Godzilla came out in Japan in 1954, it introduced a new genre of film into the movie making business of Japan and kicked off a long-running franchise. When the movie hit the United States in 1956, the popularity of the film exploded, grossing today’s equivalent of $19 million. There have been follow ups, reboots and a whole Godzilla monster franchise since. In particular, Roland Emmerich‘s 1998 adaptation of this movie monster exploded at the box office. However, when the Japanese Godzilla franchise unveiled this millennial version to the North American public, the movie received a mixed critical reaction and grossed almost 10 times less than its recent 1998 predecessor.
9. Blues Brothers 2000 – $14,051,384
When the original 1980 “Blues Brothers” film came out, it was a huge success with a box office gross of $57 million. And while the ‘2000’ was billed as a sequel, there has been much debate as to whether “Blues Brothers” 2000 is actually just a remake, due to the fact that it simply retells the same story in a different way – one critic said it was offering ‘more of the same, only less’. Because of this, the 2000 film received primarily negative reviews. The film was criticized for recreating the same antics (just adding more cars) and not bringing anything new to the story. It grossed well over $40 million less than the hugely successful original.
8. The Invasion (2007) – $15,074,191
Okay, so this film was actually the fourth adaptation of the book ‘The Invasion of the Body Snatchers’, by Jack Finney. So perhaps it’s more accurate to call this movie a remake of a remake based on the original 1978 film adaptation (the second attempt at adapting the story to film) with an overall gross of $24,946,533. The original film has become a cult classic, but this version received primarily negative reviews due to the fact that it was too focused on special effects, screaming, violence, etc. and not a lot of focus or emphasis on telling a good story – a common complaint fans level at remakes. The subpar box office figures for the movie are surprising considering it starred huge stars Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig.
7. Conan the Barbarian (2011) – $21,295,021
This film, regarded as a new interpretation of the Conan story and separate from the original 1982 film – which grossed at $39,565,475 – falls rather short. Not only was the storyline criticized, but the quality of actors, costumes, and special effects were under heavy scrutiny. Ironically though, the violence of the movie was more accurate to the original book series, written by Robert E. Howard. The original has a 77% certified fresh rating according to the critics’ reviews compiled by Rotten Tomatoes, while the remake is ‘rotten’ at 24%. Grossing well over $10 million less than the original, this remake was ill-advised.
6. Psycho (1998) – $21,456,130
The original Alfred Hitchcock version made $32,000,000 and is considered to be one of Hollywood’s greatest masterpieces. So horror movie fans were baffled when Gus Van Sant decided to do a shot-for-shot remake of the iconic 1960 film, but this time starring Vince Vaughn. The movie received negative reviews and is generally regarded as an attempt to duplicate the film rather than add anything new or fresh to the original. Reviews from both critics and viewers were harsh: But then again, if you’re going to take a shot at Hitchcock, it’s best to do it right. This one grossed well under $10 million less than the original, and damaged a few reputations along the way. Vaughn has recently been involved in another ‘remake’ debacle, when he took the leading role in an English language adaptation of the cult favorite ‘Starbuck’. ‘Delivery Man’ has failed to live up to the French Canadian original, with the fresh Vs. rotten dichotomy emerging once more. Looks like Vince should stay away from the remakes in future,
5. Arthur (2011) – $33,035,397
The original “Arthur” came out in 1981 and was one of the most profitable movies of the year with a gross of $95,461,682 and Dudley Moore in the title role. Thirty years later, a remake of the film was released starring Russell Brand in the title role. However, this is a film that received mainly negative reviews and never quite recovered. Even with casting Helen Mirren in a supporting role wasn’t enough to save this film from being torn apart by critics and it grossed over three times less than the original.
4. Footloose (2011) – $51,802,742
We all remember the iconic original film of “Footloose” starring Kevin Bacon and a before-she-was-famous Sarah Jessica Parker. Images of Bacon dancing in an abandoned warehouse still resonate with moviegoers today. The film, released in 1984, grossed about $80,035,402 at the box office, and “Footloose” established itself as a modern classic. Flash forward to 2011 and a much-anticipated remake directed by Craig Brewer, starring Julianne Hough. Incredibly, the new remake received far more positive reviews than the original, so it wasn’t a complete flop artistically; but the remake didn’t measure up on the financial end, grossing more than $30 million less than the naff-but-great original.
3. The Omen (2006) – $54,607,383
This movie was a flop on all sides. Harsh reviews from critics – a 27% overall rating on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to the 85% rating of the original – and a disappointing box office result. When the original 1976 film of “The Omen” was released, it grossed around $60,922,980. Not too shabby for the mid-seventies, in a time where it some of the best horror films were released. In 2006, director John Moore along with stars such as Julia Stiles and Mia Farrow were part of the remake of Richard Donner’s original film. The movie received mainly negative reviews due to the fact that it tried to recreate the original instead of doing anything remotely different with the story, serving only to highlight the film’s imperfections in comparison to the original. The over $5 million disparity between the two films’ gross earnings is testament to the remake’s failure.
2. Poseidon (2006) – $60,674,817
The 1972 film ‘The Poseidon Adventure’ has a lifetime total gross of $93,300,00 and was an instant hit upon its release. It quickly became a classic, using cutting edge technology for its time and bringing audiences a unique viewing experience that captured attention all over the world. When the remake “Poseidon” hit movie theatres, it generated negative reviews and didn’t even generate the budget to break even, losing $20 million dollars; “Poseidon” was even nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Movie Remake. Even with powerhouse stars like Emmy Rossum and Richard Dreyfuss, it wasn’t enough to save this movie from the fate of flopping. This remake generated $30 million less than the original.
1. The Amityville Horror (2005) – $65,233,369
Much like “The Exorcist”, this film about the haunted demonic house was an instant hit with sequels coming out of the woodwork. The original Amityville Horror film came out in 1979 and grossed a huge $86,432,000. The film is still popular today, although in this case critics aren’t fans of the original at all. However in 2005, a production team wanted to try its hand at retelling the original Lutz story, and unfortunately it didn’t come close to measuring up. George Lutz – who was played by Ryan Reynolds in the movie – himself even expressed his dislike for the remake, as did fans of the Amityville franchise. A young Chloe Moretz, who recently starred in the more successful horror remake Carrie, appears in this one too. The remake was about $20 million short of matching the original film and received widely negative reviews.
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