There’s an old adage that says there’s nothing new under the sun. When it comes to Hollywood, this is undoubtedly true. Each year, seemingly more and more movies are reimagined, rebooted, or remade. From prequels and spinoffs to shot for shot remakes, filmmakers continue to mine the past to find something that might serve them well in the not too distant future. But as much as this reliance on previously released stories may seem like a recent phenomenon, Hollywood has been recycling old material for the better part of a century.
For example, the August 2016 film Ben Hur was based on an 1880 novel titled Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ. Many moviegoers would be more familiar with the iconic 1959 version of the film, which won 11 Academy Awards. Though that version is considered to be the “classic” version of the story, it was actually the third big screen adaptation of Ben Hur – with two silent films preceding it in 1907 and 1925, respectively.
Ben Hur is far from an anomaly. Since the first cinematic version of Robin Hood in 1912, there have been at least 11 other movies based on the classic folk story. If that seems excessive, it also makes a certain kind of sense. With so much money invested in the filmmaking process, it’s only reasonable that executives want to rely on proven commodities. Plus, some of these adaptations practically make people forget about the originals. 2006’s The Departed, 1986’s The Fly, and 1959’s Some Like It Hot? All remakes. And though many viewers have a soft spot for early Batman films, it took Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight for the franchise to become an Oscar contender.
Still, while some remakes are worthwhile, there are other properties better left alone. Here are 15 upcoming remakes we have little to no interest in ever seeing.
15. Tomb Raider
Movie adaptations of video games have a checkered history, at best. (Just ask Uwe Boll.) Still, Angelina Jolie‘s turn as Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider movies certainly had its share of fans. Combined, 2001’s Tomb Raider and its sequel 2003’s Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life earned more than $400 million in ticket sales.
Granted, the second film didn’t exactly live up to the financial expectations set by the first. And while the films made the studios money, they weren’t exactly classics. The original Tomb Raider film and its follow-up carry scores of 20% and 24%, respectively, on Rotten Tomatoes. Meanwhile, Jolie earned Golden Raspberry (“Razzie”) nominations for both performances, and “won” for her role in The Cradle of Life. To her credit, she’s reportedly shown no interest in playing Lara Croft in another sequel.
Another Tomb Raider movie is planned, this one supposedly based on the 2013 reboot of the video game. This time, Swedish actress Alicia Vikander is tapped to star, with a release planned for 2018. Considering the legacy of the last two movies, as well as the source material, this one probably won’t be making any critics’ year-end best-of lists.
Without giving too much away for those who still haven’t seen it, the 2000 film Memento (written and directed by Christopher Nolan) is one of the most popular psychological thrillers of the past two decades. It’s like a classic murder mystery, but in reverse, with the main character’s short term amnesia making it excruciatingly difficult for him to solve the crime of his wife’s murder. Thanks to its gripping story and unconventional narrative structure, the film was both a critical and financial success – earning nearly $40 million at the box office and garnering two Oscar nominations.
Now, less than 20 years after the original, Memento is getting the remake treatment. In the fall of 2015, following its purchase of Exclusive Media (owners of Memento, among other properties), AMBI Pictures announced that it would be financing a new version of Memento, promising in a statement that it would “bring this puzzle back to life.”
Of course, Memento was so popular in part because of its ambiguity. Either the new film is a faithful remake, which seems pretty gratuitous so soon after the original, or it reveals something new and then loses the ambiguity that lent the original its haunting charm. And, if the story is measurably different than the original, it will leave many unhappy. Whatever the case, it’s difficult to imagine a remake that feels anywhere near as unique or innovative as Nolan’s 2000 film.
13. The Naked Gun
There’s just something inherently wrong in anyone but the late Leslie Nielsen portraying Frank Drebin of Police Squad, the lovably stoic protagonist of the iconic Naked Gun trilogy. Drebin was like a hardboiled detective from classic films and TV shows – only remarkably clueless, and placed into the most ridiculous circumstances imaginable.
At the same time, the final film in the series, The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult, is now more than two decades old. Considering how many franchises have been brought back to life since then, it should come as little surprise that Frank Drebin would be tapped for a return to the big screen.
In 2013, Paramount announced it would be rebooting the satirical franchise, this time with Ed Helms in the lead role. It seemed like a strange choice, given it was Leslie Nielsen’s serious acting experience that enabled him to play Frank Drebin in such a wonderfully straight-faced way. Helms, on the other hand, is known for portraying a variety of affable goofballs, and is almost exclusively a comedic actor.
When Yahoo! Movies asked David Zucker, director and co-writer of the original Naked Gun films, what he thought about the impending remake, he replied that he didn’t expect the studio had any interest in replicating the slapstick tone of the spoof series he helped popularize. There hasn’t been any news on the reboot in a while, but, frankly, Zucker is probably right – movies like his just aren’t made these days. And frankly, a Frank Drebin who is played as anything less than completely deadpan doesn’t sound too appealing.
12. The Crow
Though the end of its filming process was mired in tragedy, 1994’s The Crow was popular amongst critics at the time of its release, and it continues to retain a cult following today. But the film was also infamous as the last work of actor Brandon Lee (son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee). With just over a week left on the production schedule, Lee was fatally wounded by a prop bullet that the studio had rigged up from actual ammunition.
Following the tragic accident, the studio made a difficult decision to complete the film using a combination of CGI and footage of Lee’s stunt double. This wound up being a wise decision, in the end. The Crow showcased an exciting final performance from a talented young actor – one which, decades earlier, would probably never have seen the light of day.
The film was followed by several far less popular sequels, each starring different actors in the titular role. The most famous of these was 1996’s The Crow: City of Angels, which retains a paltry 12% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It was followed by 2000’s The Crow: Salvation and 2005’s The Crow: Wicked Prayer – both of which had short theatrical runs before becoming direct-to-video releases.
A remake of the original The Crow is currently planned, with actor Jason Momoa tapped to play the lead. At this point, though, it seems the franchise has been through enough pitfalls. Plus, completing the original film to honor Brandon Lee was one thing…trying to remake the same film with another actor seems decidedly more problematic.
11. Police Academy: Next Generation
It’s unclear exactly which audience a rebooted Police Academy is supposed to be targeting. For one thing, the original franchise completely overstayed its welcome, producing far more films than all but the most diehard fans thought were necessary. By the time 1994’s Mission to Moscow was released, most of the series’ core actors had long since checked out. Today, the popularity of the series feels like something of a bygone era, and many of the jokes feel pretty dated.
On the other hand, the first couple entries in the series were once popular enough to warrant a total of seven movies eventually being made. And a generation of younger actors who grew up laughing at the films now have some clout. Enter Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele, the duo better collectively known as the faces of Comedy Central’s Key & Peele. The two comedians are reportedly attached to the remake, which does offer some promise.
If the remake takes the franchise on a completely unexpected journey (think: the 21 Jump Street movies), it could be something wonderful. But if it’s seen as too derivative (like 2015’s Vacation reprise), it will likely age as well as Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach.
10. Little Shop of Horrors
This is another case of going to the well one time too many. The original film, The Little Shop of Horrors, was released in 1960. It was an almost blatant attempt by Roger Corman to make a film as quickly as possible. Mostly shot in one day (and featuring, among others, a young Jack Nicholson), the black and white horror flick would go on to become a cult classic – thanks in part to being shown on late night TV for years afterward.
In the 1980s, a group of people who appreciated the movie for its kitsch value decided it’d be a perfect fit for musical adaptation. Of course, the musical was a hit, and it wasn’t long before Hollywood came calling. 1986’s Little Shop of Horrors, starring Rick Moranis and Steve Martin, was based entirely on the musical – downplaying the original film’s horror elements in favor of the kooky and humorous qualities of the stage production.
Though today it’s the musical version of Little Shop of Horrors that people seem to most identify with, there are still some proponents of Corman’s original work. In 2009, filmmaker Declan O’Brien – who directed Corman’s 2010 made-for-TV movie Sharktopus – was announced as the director of a new cinematic version of Little Shop of Horrors. This version, which has still yet to be released, will reportedly be a non-musical horror film. All these years later, with the story seemingly perfected in its musical form, this seems like a step backward.
9. Charlie’s Angels
It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long since the last reboot of the iconic 1970s TV series, Charlie’s Angels. Indeed, the first film in the franchise was only released in 2000, followed by a sequel a few years later. Starring Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu, and Drew Barrymore as the Angels (along with Bill Murray as John Bosley), the first film earned $264 million on a $93 million budget. Coupled with the success of the soundtrack, featuring the number-one Destiny’s Child single, “Independent Women Part 1,” the property was once again red hot.
In 2003, the sequel Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle also turned a significant profit (after international sales), earning $259 million on a $120 million budget. But after the lower sales numbers on a higher investment, and a much worse critical response – the film earned seven “Razzie” nominations – this incarnation of the franchise was over.
Now, a new incarnation of Charlie’s Angels is in the works. Though little else is known at this point, Elizabeth Banks is set to both produce and direct the film. Truthfully, it seems far too soon for the return of this blockbuster series, especially considering the lukewarm reception received by Full Throttle. Only time will tell.
8. Road House
With no disrespect meant to Ronda Rousey – who could easily hold her own in a bar brawl – the planned remake of the 1989 cult classic Road House just seems like a bad idea. For one thing, part of the movie’s appeal comes from the fact that it’s a prime example of 1980s cinematic cheese. It’s cool because it’s so very uncool. That kind of mojo can’t really be planned out. Road House benefitted from years of video rentals and cable TV airings when there weren’t nearly as many entertainment options. Gradually, a broad audience came to appreciate the film as both an action flick and an unintentional comedy.
Patrick Swayze‘s breezy portrayal of a bouncer who got a lot more than he’d ever bargained for isn’t something that can be easily replicated. And though Ronda Rousey may actually be a more believable “tough” than Swayze, given her record inside the octagon, she doesn’t touch the acting chops of the late actor.
This one could really go two ways. In one scenario, it’s a gritty action movie, with Rousey very believably kicking ass and taking names. Approached another way, it embraces the inadvertent tackiness of the original with a wink. That’s a difficult trick, and not just because Rousey doesn’t have much acting experience. If the film is approached as more of a comedy than an action movie, it’ll be missing a vital piece of what made the original great. In all honesty, it’s probably better to just avoid this one.
7. Time Bandits
The films of Terry Gilliam are so unusual, and yet so identifiably linked to their creator, that it’s a wonder why anyone would want to bother revisiting them. Depending on how you look at it, 1981’s Time Bandits is either a spectacularly weird kids’ movie or a surreal history lesson masquerading as one. And really, why can’t it be both?
The film, which features two of Gilliam’s Monty Python cohorts, Sean Connery, and Shelley Duvall (among others), was a financial success despite a relatively small budget. And unlike many of the other titles on this list, it never got the sequel or prequel treatment, nor was it adapted for other media. At least, not yet.
In 2011, Guy Collins and Michael Ryan (formerly of Handmade Films, the company that produced Time Bandits) declared their intentions to remake the film as a series of children’s adventure movies. While little information has yet to come out about this supposed new franchise, Terry Gilliam revealed back in 2015 that he was planning to develop Time Bandits as a TV series. Though it’s tough to know how such a show would hold up to the original movie, it’s comforting that Gilliam would be heavily involved.
Though this fact is not often discussed, Brian De Palma‘s classic 1983 film Scarface was actually a remake of a much older film (produced by eccentric businessman Howard Hughes) – proof, if proof were needed, that staging a new take on an old work is not always a bad idea. Boosted by Oliver Stone‘s gripping screenplay and, of course, Al Pacino‘s unforgettable performance as Tony Montana, the movie was a major hit with audiences. And though it didn’t get any Oscar nods – and didn’t win in any of the Golden Globe categories for which it was nominated – Scarface is now considered by many to be one of the greatest crime films of all time.
If the fact that Scarface had been done once before generally goes unnoticed, it’s for good reason. The movie it was based on came out in 1932 and, due to the time period when it was released, was a much more subtle, tamer affair. De Palma’s film, meanwhile, was bursting with violence and uncouth language. Even for the time, some considered it excessive, as it De Palma received a “Razzie” nomination for his work on the film.
Today, it’s unclear how a new version of Scarface could possibly set itself apart from the original. Still, a remake has been in the planning stages since at least 2011. With several different directors and writers being attached to the film at different points since then, it’s difficult to say how it might turn out. But we’re banking on modern viewers drawing constant comparisons to the original film. And really, how can anyone but Al Pacino in his prime portray Tony Montana?
5. The Toxic Avenger
For more than 40 years, the independent film company Troma Entertainment has been producing gross, gory, movies that border on the obscene. And, in doing so, it’s made legions of fans. Despite (or perhaps because of) the low production values of the scores of films released by the company, diehard Troma fans just can’t seem to get enough.
While it’s occasionally enjoyed a bit of crossover success – for example, by distributing Trey Parker and Matt Stone‘s first film, Cannibal! The Musical – perhaps the greatest legacy enjoyed by Troma is that of The Toxic Avenger. The 1984 film (co-written by Troma founder Lloyd Kaufman) follows a janitor who, after being burned and mutated by toxic chemicals, becomes an unlikely superhero.
It was an instant b-movie classic, spawning a number of late night screenings and, ultimately, three sequels – with the most recent being Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV. Though the sequels never quite lived up the popularity of the original, they were at least undeniably part of the same universe. Lloyd Kaufman had a hand in writing and making all four films, lending them a sense of continuity.
Now, Storyscape Entertainment is set to produce a remake of the gross-out classic, with Sausage Party director Conrad Vernon attached. While Troma founders Kaufman and Michael Herz will receive executive producer credit, it’s a bit unsettling to see the franchise in the hands of others. Rumors that the new film will be more “grounded” than the original do little to assuage these fears.
For better or worse, Hollywood has been pretty keen on revisiting Sylvester Stallone properties, as of late. Between 2008’s Rambo remake, two Rocky films in the span of a decade (plus Creed II in the works), and even another attempt at the comic book franchise Judge Dredd, there are constant reminders of Stallone’s work in the popular culture.
Since at least 2009, there has been talk of a remake of the 1993 action film, Cliffhanger. Noted for its exciting visuals, including the most expensive aerial stunt ever (certified by Guinness), the flick earned a cool $255 million in international ticket sales. But it certainly wasn’t loved by critics (landing four Golden Raspberry nominations, including Worst Picture) and doesn’t frequently get mentioned alongside Stallone’s best movies.
Nonetheless, there appears to be interest in reviving the story, and it may just be moving forward. As of 2014, screenwriter Joe Gazzam was set to work on the script. And given the relatively tepid reputation of the original, there may be a chance to make some improvements. Still, this one isn’t likely to go down as a classic.
3. Sister Act
How many times has an online commenter complained about an upcoming reboot in a way that suggests the movie’s mere existence will retroactively ruin the commenter’s childhood? It’s a familiar, mostly ridiculous refrain. At the same time, there’s something to be said for letting things remain part of a particular time and place. Not everything, after all, needs to be subject to an update.
Even in the decidedly different comedy movie landscape of the early 1990s, Sister Act had to seem like a very unlikely hit. Without any knowledge of the film, or how well it did, “lounge singer put in witness protection in a convent” seems like a pretty bizarre premise for a film. But Sister Act managed to become insanely popular. Sporting a well rounded cast (led by Whoopi Goldberg, Maggie Smith, and Harvey Keitel), plenty of breezy, PG-rated jokes, and a soundtrack that somehow convincingly fused traditional Catholic music with Motown, it was the 6th highest grossing film of 1992.
Since the film did so well, it’s no surprise that a sequel was ordered. Unfortunately, 1993’s Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit wasn’t nearly as popular. The franchise then remained dormant until 2006, when the Sister Act musical was first staged. The show proved to be popular, and received five Tony nominations for its 2011 Broadway run.
Maybe it’s because of the success of the musical, or, perhaps, due to a general sense of nostalgia, but a Disney produced remake of Sister Act is currently in the works. While it’s not yet known whether Whoopi Goldberg will be involved, it’s likely best to just leave this one alone. Yes, the series saw new life as a musical, but what works on Broadway doesn’t always work in Hollywood.
The 1971 film Shaft is a staple of the blaxploitation genre, borne of a very specific cultural moment. Based on a novel by Ernest Tidyman (who cowrote the screenplay) and starring Richard Roundtree as the titular “bad mother,” the movie was a major financial success – earning $13 million at the box office on a mere $500,000 production budget. In the year 2000, it was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress.
Though the original Shaft was wildly popular, future attempts to cash in on the story were not as successful. Shaft’s Big Score (which was at least financially successful) and Shaft in Africa proved to be far less memorable than the original. Shaft was also briefly a TV series, though it only lasted for seven episodes.
In the year 2000, Shaft once again came to the big screen – this time, starring Samuel L. Jackson as the nephew of the original John Shaft character. Though technically a sequel, the John Singleton-directed movie shared its name with the first film.
A proper remake is currently being planned, with Black-ish creator Kenya Barris on board as one of the writers. Considering the original context of the film, it’s entirely possible that a remake – whether faithful or slightly different – will remind viewers fondly of the classic film. But then, why not just watch the original?
1. The Birds
Though only a relatively small amount of people are legitimately afraid of birds (a condition known as ornithophobia), in 1963, director Alfred Hitchcock found a way to make the creatures terrifying. The Birds is still cited today as one of Hitchcock’s great films, and retains a 96% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
But Alfred Hitchcock was uniquely qualified to make the mundane seem horrific, and a 1994 made-for-TV sequel, The Birds II: Land’s End was not nearly so well received. That failure hasn’t stopped Hollywood from thinking the success of the original movie can be duplicated. For close to a decade now, a remake of the film has been discussed – though it seems to continually remain in the planning stages. Perhaps that’s for the best, as revisiting Hitchcock’s work isn’t exactly the easiest task.
If the Birds remake is too experimental, it could be seen as disrespectful to the work of a master director. But if it’s too close to the original film, that’s bad, too. Ask Gus Van Sant, whose 1998 version of Psycho not only didn’t make the studio any money, but also drew the ire of critics. Roger Ebert called the film, which was virtually a shot for shot remake of the original, “pointless.” Ouch.
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