Movie Remakes That Are Better Than The Original
Whenever Hollywood announces a new remake, many viewers inevitably groan, “Why ruin a classic?”. The success rate of remakes isn’t great. But there are some films that achieve the difficult task of improving upon the originals and are better received by critics and audiences alike.
To determine the movie remakes that are better than the originals, 24/7 Tempo developed an index based on Internet Movie Database rating, Rotten Tomatoes audience score, and Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score. Index scores for remake movies were compared to those of the original films.
In order to draw audiences to the theaters, movie producers often opt to remake well-known movies that fans already love. No genre appears to be more successful than others in the remakes category. Among the better remakes are comedies, horrors, dramas, as well as science fiction thrillers.
Most of the movies on our list are newer remakes. Sixteen were released after 2000; one even came out this year. Seven of the remakes were released between 1941 and 1994.
In addition to remakes, sometimes sequels are better than the first installment of a franchise. Here are the best movie sequels you can now stream .
To determine the movie remakes that are better than the originals, 24/7 Tempo developed an index based on several measures from the Internet Movie Database and Rotten Tomatoes. The index is a composite of each movie IMDb rating, Rotten Tomatoes audience score, and Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score. All ratings were weighted equally. Index scores for remake movies were compared to those of the original films. Supplemental data on domestic box office and production budgets by movie came from industry data site The Numbers.
21. The Blob (1988)
> Directed by: Chuck Russell
> Starring: Shawnee Smith, Kevin Dillon, Donovan Leitch Jr.
> Original movie: The Blob (1958)
> Difference in index score: 0.005
Despite special effects improving over the years, the 1988 horror sci-fi is only a slight improvement on the original "The Blob," which was released three decades prior and is still considered a B-movie classic.
The movies tell the story of two teenagers who try to protect their hometown from an alien lifeform that grows uncontrollably and eats people. What the remake does better, according to critics, is being more fast-paced.
20. 3:10 to Yuma (2007)
> Directed by: James Mangold
> Starring: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Ben Foster
> Original movie: 3:10 to Yuma (1957)
> Difference in index score: 0.01
The original 1957 Western stars Glenn Ford as an outlaw taken prisoner by a desperate rancher (Van Heflin) needing money. According to Critics Consensus on Rotten Tomatoes, the well-paced, tension-filled reboot improves on the original because of the "fiery" performances by Russell Crowe and Christian Bale and the direction from James Mangold. Audiences agreed, delivering 86% positive reviews for the remake compared to 79% for the original.
19. The Mechanic (2011)
> Directed by: Simon West
> Starring: Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland
> Original movie: The Mechanic (1972)
> Difference in index score: 0.02
Even though the 2011 version of "The Mechanic" is better than the original, which was released in 1972, both were panned by critics. Both films follow a veteran assassin who takes on an apprentice who is related to one of his victims. The remake is described as "superficial" in the Rotten Tomatoes' Critics Consensus. Only 53% of critics gave it a positive review. The original thriller scored worse among critics, at 33%, but better among viewers.
18. The Debt (2010)
> Directed by: John Madden
> Starring: Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington, Tom Wilkinson
> Original movie: Ha-Hov (2007)
> Difference in index score: 0.04
"The Debt" is a 2010 remake of the 2007 Israeli thriller film "Ha-Hov." Both films tell the story of three Mossad agents who, back in 1965, secretly crossed into East Berlin to capture a Nazi war criminal who was never tried. He escapes and the agents cover it up. Then, 35 years later, the lies are catching up to them. The remake received mostly positive reviews, especially for the actors' performances. The film still holds a Freshness score of 77%.
17. Wrong Turn (2021)
> Directed by: Mike P. Nelson
> Starring: Charlotte Vega, Adain Bradley, Bill Sage
> Original movie: Wrong Turn (2003)
> Difference in index score: 0.06
The 2021 "Wrong Turn" is a remake of the 2003 horror movie of the same name. Both films follow a group of friends stranded in the woods and being chased by members of a secretive community who try to protect their way of life. The original, according to the Rotten Tomatoes' Critics Consensus, is an "unremarkable slasher flick." The remake received mostly mixed and positive reviews from critics, who praised it for its many scary scenes.
16. Fever Pitch (2005)
> Directed by: Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly
> Starring: Drew Barrymore, Jimmy Fallon, Jason Spevack
> Original movie: Fever Pitch (1997)
> Difference in index score: 0.10
Based on Nick Hornby's autobiography of the same name, the 1997 "Fever Pitch" film is decidedly more English. The British rom-com follows a soccer-mad school teacher whose obsession disturbs his romantic relationship.
The American-produced film from 2005 stars Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon, the latter of whom is passionate about baseball, specifically the Boston Red Sox. Only half the critics on Rotten Tomatoes gave positive reviews to the original film, whereas 65% enjoyed the latter, with the site describing it as a "solid hit."
15. The Fly (1986)
> Directed by: David Cronenberg
> Starring: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz
> Original movie: The Fly (1958)
> Difference in index score: 0.15
Critics found favor with the character development and special effects in David Cronenberg's 1986 imaginative remake of the 1958 parable about the consequences of dabbling with nature, giving it a 93% Freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences awarded the film a score of 83%, topping the score of 71% for the original that starred one of cinema's great ghoulish performers, Vincent Price.
14. Freaky Friday (2003)
> Directed by: Mark Waters
> Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Lindsay Lohan, Mark Harmon
> Original movie: Freaky Friday (1976)
> Difference in index score: 0.17
Critics freaked for the 2003 remake of "Freaky Friday," bestowing upon it an 88% Freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The original, starring Barbara Harris and Jodie Foster, received a 70% rating. The site's Critics Consensus cites the charming performances of Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan in this fun body-switching movie. A third, made-for-TV version of "Freaky Friday" was also made and released by Disney in 1995.
13. We Are What We Are (2013)
> Directed by: Jim Mickle
> Starring: Bill Sage, Ambyr Childers, Julia Garner
> Original movie: We Are What We Are (2010)
> Difference in index score: 0.19
The 2013 version of the horror film "We Are What We Are" is a remake of the 2010 Mexican film of the same name. The plot centers around a reclusive family living according to ancient traditions. The daughters must assume special responsibilities as the family tries to keep their way of life after the mother dies.
The remake is much more liked by critics than the original. It has an 86% Freshness score on Rotten Tomatoes, topping the original, which is liked by 72% of critics.
12. Willard (2003)
> Directed by: Glen Morgan
> Starring: Crispin Glover, R. Lee Ermey, Laura Harring
> Original movie: Willard (1971)
> Difference in index score: 0.19
"Willard" is a horror film loosely based on the novel "Ratman's Notebooks" by Stephen Gilbert. The novel's first film adaptation from 1971 was a surprise hit. A sequel, "Ben," was even released a year later.
The 2003 version was a reworking of the themes from the original movie but with more emphasis put on suspense. About 64% of critics liked the remake compared to 57% for the original. The remake beats the original 51% to 38% when it comes to viewers liking it.
11. Scent of a Woman (1992)
> Directed by: Martin Brest
> Starring: Al Pacino, Chris O'Donnell, James Rebhorn
> Original movie: Scent of a Woman (1974)
> Difference in index score: 0.20
"Scent of a Woman'' is a remake of an Italian drama of the same name. In the Italian version, a blind captain, who is assigned an aide by the army, travels to Naples to meet an old friend. The two former soldiers have plans to end their lives. The Italian movie was nominated for two Oscars, including best writing and best foreign movie. The American film, which follows a blind retired colonel and a prep student hired to help him around, was nominated for four Oscars, with Al Pacino winning best actor.
10. The Crazies (2010)
> Directed by: Breck Eisner
> Starring: Radha Mitchell, Timothy Olyphant, Danielle Panabaker
> Original movie: The Crazies (1973)
> Difference in index score: 0.20
While the 2010 horror flick "The Crazies" is not an exceptional film, according to audience and critic reviews, it is preferred by both groups to its predecessor, which was directed by George Romero, the man behind "Night of the Living Dead." The earlier film reportedly had a budget of only $275,000, while the remake cost an estimated $20 million to produce.
9. Lassie (2005)
> Directed by: Charles Sturridge
> Starring: John Lynch, Samantha Morton, Peter O'Toole
> Original movie: Lassie (1994)
> Difference in index score: 0.23
The 2005 "Lassie" is an adventure comedy-drama about the profound bond between a boy and his rough collie, Lassie. The film was generally reviewed positively by both audiences and critics â€“ it still holds a 93% Freshness score -- but performed poorly at the box office.
In comparison, only about half of audience reviewers liked the 1994 version of "Lassie," and 88% of critics gave the original a favorable review. The films are based on Eric Knight's 1940 novel "Lassie Come-Home."
8. The Thing (1982)
> Directed by: John Carpenter
> Starring: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David
> Original movie: The Thing from Another World (1951)
> Difference in index score: 0.31
The remake of "The Thing," directed by John Carpenter, helped relaunch a new generation of sci-fi films featuring groundbreaking special effects and gory scenes. The film faltered at the box office because it had the misfortune of being released around the same time as the blockbuster "E.T: The Extraterrestrial."
Howard Hawks directed the original, titled "The Thing From Another World," which also spawned a golden age of science-fiction/horror films in the 1950s. Audiences on Rotten Tomatoes preferred the reboot to the original 92% to 73%.
7. Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
> Directed by: Frank Oz
> Starring: Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Vincent Gardenia
> Original movie: The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)
> Difference in index score: 0.31
Frank Oz directed the 1986 remake of the 1960 black comedy that was directed by B-movie helmsman Roger Corman. Oz's version is a musical comedy inspired by the Broadway play and written by Howard Ashman. In the reboot, Rick Moranis stars as the nebbish flower shop worker who discovers an exotic carnivore plant. Some 79% of audiences liked the remake on Rotten Tomatoes, compared with just 55% for the original, which also featured an appearance by a young Jack Nicholson.
6. True Lies (1994)
> Directed by: James Cameron
> Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold
> Original movie: La Totale! (1991)
> Difference in index score: 0.32
The 1994 hit action-comedy movie "True Lies" is based on a 1991 French comedy "La Totale!" The plot of the American movie is centered on a salesman who is actually a secret agent tracking down nuclear missiles. "La Totale!" follows a civil servant who is actually a secret agent using his skills and resources to find where his son has been going instead of school. Remake director James Cameron is developing a "True Lies" TV reboot.
5. The Departed (2006)
> Directed by: Martin Scorsese
> Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson
> Original movie: Internal Affairs (2002)
> Difference in index score: 0.43
"The Departed" is Martin Scorsese's third most financially successful film to date. The movie is based on the popular Hong Kong thriller "Infernal Affairs." Scorsese's gritty flick about the Irish mob in Boston -- supported by its star-studded cast that included Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, and Alec Baldwin -- resonated with audiences, with a score of 94% among Rotten Tomatoes users, and it has an 8.5 rating out of 10 among IMDb users. "The Departed" also took home Oscars for best picture, best director, and best writing.
4. Ocean's Eleven (2001)
> Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
> Starring: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts
> Original movie: Ocean's 11 (1960)
> Difference in index score: 0.48
This entertaining and stylish caper movie directed by Steven Soderbergh stars George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Julia Roberts. It was remade from the 1960 film featuring Rat Pack members Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, and Sammy Davis Jr.
The slick remake was a success, becoming one of the highest grossing movies of the year and starting a lucrative franchise. The fast-paced flick holds a Rotten Tomatoes Freshness rating of 83%, and an 80% approval rating from audiences.
3. Pete's Dragon (2016)
> Directed by: David Lowery
> Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Oakes Fegley
> Original movie: Pete's Dragon (1977)
> Difference in index score: 0.50
A mix of live action and animation, "Pete's Dragon" was originally released by Disney in 1977. The original, with Hollywood legends Mickey Rooney and Shelley Winters, was described on Rotten Tomatoes' Critics Consensus as "boring and slow" and "a lesser Disney work."
Its 2016 reimagining was a success, winning over 88% of critics who said the update "gives the original a visual overhaul without overwhelming its sweet, soulful charm."
2. Return to Paradise (1998)
> Directed by: Joseph Ruben
> Starring: Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche, Joaquin Phoenix
> Original movie: Force majeure (1989)
> Difference in index score: 0.53
"Return to Paradise" is a drama thriller about two friends who face an impossible decision -- return to Malaysia after vacationing there and possibly be sentenced to death for drug possession like their friend or stay in New York and let him die. The movie is a remake of the 1989 French film "Force Majeure," better known in the U.S. as "Uncontrollable Circumstances." The remake was mostly praised by critics for its leads' performances.
1. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
> Directed by: John Huston
> Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Gladys George
> Original movie: The Maltese Falcon (1931)
> Difference in index score: 0.86
The original "The Maltese Falcon" was a critically praised movie. Its remake, "The Maltese Falcons," released just 10 years later, was not only better but it was considered the first major film noir. The 1941 version still holds a perfect Freshness score on Rotten Tomatoes. In both movies, a private detective takes a case and gets caught up in the mystery of a statuette known as the Maltese Falcon.