Who Did It Better? Comparing Famous Movie Remakes to the Original Films That Inspired Them

Most like to insist that original motion pictures are always better than their remakes or reboots. As hard as movie makers might try, as soon as the word “remake” (or the like) comes about, critics are quick to compare and knit pick every little change or discrepancy. That being said, once in a while, a movie comes out that defies the odds and proves this assertion wrong.

In fact, it could be the case that your favorite film is not an original at all but rather a remake from a lesser-known movie from way back when. To put this age-old argument to rest, let’s take a look at some of the most famous movie remakes and reboots to date and compare them to their predecessors.

Romeo and Juliet 1968 Vs. Romeo+Juliet 1996

There are countless renditions of William Shakespear’s monumental play, Romeo and Juliet but there are two versions that have hands down stood out among the rest. Those being the 1968 film of the same name and the 1996 remake, Romeo+Juliet, which took a much edgier and modern-day approach. It’s hard to compare these two adaptations considering just how different they really are.

The 1968 film, starring Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting, put the acclaimed stage production onto the big screen, sticking to the Shakspearean era depiction. On the other hand, the modern 1996 version starring Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio is set in Verona Beach, California rather than the classic, British-Italian setting. Although they had almost identical scripts and plots, these two films could not be more different.

Scarface 1932 Vs. Scarface 1983

Contrary to most on this list, the remake here seems to far outrank its original. In fact, most people don’t even know that the 1983 version of Scarface is, in fact, a remake. As it turns out, the original film first came out back in 1932, which was loosely based on a 1929 novel inspired by real-life American gangster, Al Capone.

When the 1983 remake, starring Al Pacino came out viewers were initially apprehensive due to the violent scenes and excessive profanity. However, it didn’t take long for the movie to gain a huge following. Today it is considered a cult classic and is regarded as one of the best films in the crime genre as well as one of the greatest remakes of all time.

The Parent Trap 1961 Vs. The Parent Trap 1998

Originally a German novel titled Lottie and Lisa, The 1961 film, The Parent Trap was another classic full of love, laughs and cheerful, sing-along tunes. The star of the film, Hayley Mills took on the dual role of two long lost twins who plot together to reunite their divorced parents. Mills was praised for her performance and the movie was deemed “fit for the entire family” by critics.

Since the original movie’s success, it has had three made for TV sequels and was remade in 1998 with a young Lindsey Lohan taking on the two lead roles. The modern remake received overall praise which gave Lohan her breakout role into Hollywood stardom.

Psycho 1960 Vs. Psycho 1998

Here’s another unbeatable classic. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, starring Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins left a mark on the horror film genre that still resonates today. Everyone recognizes the heart-stopping shower scene that’s become one of the most iconic in scary movie history.

Despite its legacy, come 1998, it seems that director Gus Van Sant was up for the challenge of making a remake. The film was set to succeed with an all-star cast including names such as Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche, Julianne Moore, and William H. Macy, just to name a few. Unfortunately, despite these talented contributors, the film did not hit the mark as it received poor reviews both critically and commercially.

Willy Wonka 1971 Vs. Charlie 2005

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is a classic that will always hold a place in our hearts. Ever since it’s debut in 1971, adults and children alike have been diligently opening their candy bars in hopes to find that priceless golden ticket. When Johnny Depp took on the role of Willy Wonka in the 2005 reboot, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory he did not attempt to fill Gene Wilder’s big shoes.

Instead, he reimagined the role altogether and it was exactly what we have come to expect from the eccentric power duo that is Johnny Depp and Director, Tim Burton. The trippy vibes and crazy scenarios captured throughout the film, although similar to the original, created a whole deliciously magical world of its own.

Annie 1982 Vs. Annie 2014

Whoever grew up singing “The Sun Will Come Up Tomorrow” or “It’s a Hard Knock Life” every time they were made to do their chores, will definitely recognize this curly cued sweetheart on the left. Annie, originally released in 1982 as the first film adaptation of the 1977 broadway musical captured the hearts of many and is considered a must-see to this day.

Wanting to give today’s generation the same life lessons and memorable songs, filmmakers released a new adaptation of the same name in 2014. The film included songs from the original Broadway production while giving them their very own hip hop style. The movie received mixed reviews however did receive two Golden Globe Award nominations.

Open Your Eyes 1997 Vs. Vanilla Sky 2002

Open Your Eyes, or Abre Los Ojos is a Spanish film released in 1997 which caught the world’s attention. Critics had only great things to say about this film, its gripping storyline, and beautiful execution. Seeing it’s potential, director Cameron Crowe’s decided to bring the film to American audiences with a Hollywood remake.

Crowe did not only bring a winning plot to the table, but he also put together a sure-fire cast for his remake. With Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz taking on the starring roles, it’s no wonder this English adaptation was welcomed with such open arms. The film received numerous nominations including an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.

Spider-Man 2002 Vs Spider-Man 2017

For many superhero fans, young and old, Spider-Man will always be Tobey Maguire. After starring in three feature-length spidey films, Maguire passed the reigns to Andrew Garfield and then once again to Tom Holland who still proudly carries on the role within the Marvel universe.

With every new Spider-Man, we also received a whole new cast of friends and family and for some reason, they keep getting younger and younger. The most recent Spideyverse movies have taken quite a different approach to Peter Parker’s loving Aunt May. With Marissa Tomei taking on the role, the Auntie vibes definitely received a young and fresh twist.

A Little Princess 1939 Vs. A Little Princess 1995

This is one that might come as a surprise to those 90’s kids out there. It seems the little princess that they grew up watching was actually not the first to take the throne. It was iconic child-star, Shirley Temple who originally took on the role in 1939.

This was actually one of Temple’s last big movies as the child star that she is still known as today. The 1995 remake takes the story from its Victorian London setting to New York City in the midst of World War I. The film was critically acclaimed, received two Oscar nominations and today is still a fond piece of nostalgia.

Ghostbusters 1984 Vs. Ghostbusters 2016

Acting as the social commentary of its decade, the Ghostbusters remake came in fully equipped with quippy jokes, creepy ghosts, and women in power to boot. While Bill Murray and the rest of his crew left zero room for improvement, the remake of this cult classic still managed to offer an entertaining piece of nostalgia.

Unfortunately, the film did end up spending more than it made and plans for a sequel were subsequently abandoned. None the less, the movie received its share of praises and with the hilarious mix of Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, and Kate McKinnon, how could it not?

Ocean’s 1960 Vs. Ocean’s 1998

What would later become the famed Ocean’s film series started off as a 1960 heist film starring non-other than musical legend, Frank Sinatra as Danny Ocean. While it’s safe to assume that taking on this role was no easy task, we can all come to an agreement that George Clooney did a stand-up job.

The Ocean’s Eleven 2001 remake, starring Clooney as well as big-name stars such as Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, and Julia Roberts was a huge box office success. So much so that it became the fifth highest-grossing film of that year and inspired two sequels as well as a spin-off in 2018 starring an all-female lead cast.

Freaky Friday 1976 Vs. Freaky Friday 2003

Here we have a young Jodie Foster starring alongside Barbara Harris in the 1976 version of Freaky Friday. Foster, who has long earned her place among Hollywood elite, was only 14 at the time. The film received three Golden Globe nominations including best actress both for Foster and Harris.

As far as Dinsey remakes go, viewers are usually quick to criticize. In this case, however, fans seemed delighted to introduce a little bit more freaky Friday into their lives. The 2003 remake, starring Lindsey Lohan and Jaime Lee Curtis was well received by critics and both stars were praised for their outstanding performances.

Seven Samurai 1954 Vs. The Magnificent Seven 1960

As it turns out the 1960 Western film, The Magnificent Seven is not actually an original movie. The well-known classic is a remake of a Japanese film from 1954 titled Seven Samurai. Since it’s release, Seven Samurai has received nothing but praise. In 2010, it was ranked number one on Empire magazine’s list of “The 100 Best Films of World Cinema” and in 2018 it was voted the greatest foreign-language film in BBC’s international critic’s poll

Due to its cultural significance in the world of Old West-style cinema, few view the American adaptation, The Magnificent Seven as a remake at all. While it received mixed reviews following its release, its popularity has grown immensely through the years, greatly due to its cast which includes the likes of Steve McQueen. 2016 saw yet another star-studded remake of the same name.

Planet of The Apes 1968 Vs. Planet of the Apes 2001

What started as a single film based on a novel from France has quickly evolved into a groundbreaking franchise that can not stop producing hit after hit movies. One thing that’s become more evident over the years is the visual effect teams have come a very long way. That’s not to denounce the skills of those behind the original film series, which consisted of five films between 1968 and 1973.

In fact, these films were highly praised for their never before seen makeup techniques and were widely met with critical acclaim. In 2001, Tim Burton released the first film since the classic series and it was also a huge success. Despite this, Burton decided not to proceed with a sequel and the franchise was not rebooted again until 2011.

Father of The Bride 1950 Vs. Father of The Bride 1991

Before the charming father duo that was Steve Martin and Diane Keaton, we had Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor to pull on our hearts strings. The pair were the first to walk down the aisle together in the 1950 film, Father of the Bride. Oddly enough, the premier of the film actually took place just two days after Taylor’s real-life wedding.

Although Taylor’s marriage didn’t last the year, the film was an Academy Award-nominated success. It even inspired a sequel, a television series and of course, Martin and Keaton’s remake in 1991. The remake was also a big box office success and like it’s predecessor, also inspired a sequel in which both stars returned for.

Infernal Affairs 2002 Vs. The Departed 2006

American audiences might not realize this but when it comes to the award-winning film, The Departed, moviemakers in Hong Kong were a few years ahead of the game. The original film, titled Infernal Affairs, made waves across the globe and was even selected as the Hong Kong entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 76th Academy Awards.

Infernal Affairs had two sequels before notorious filmmaker, Martin Scorsese decided to take on the challenge of a remake. Scorses’ version ended up taking home numerous prestigious awards including four Oscars. With big names like Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio in his cast, it’s really no wonder it was such a booming box office success.

IT 1990 Vs. IT 2017

IT, the 1990 television miniseries based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name was seen as a bold risk. Horror was not the most popular genre on T.V. at the time and two-part miniseries such as this were often received with speculation. In the end, the risk paid off and IT was a huge success. This is largely due to actor Tim Curry’s portrayal of the dark creepy clown, Pennywise.

Fast forward, almost 30 years later and Pennywise has come back again, with a whole new look. Taking on the role is Bill Skarsgård who proved to push the demonic clown limits with his creepy stare and unnerving smile. This remake was one for the books, winning numerous prestigious awards and becoming the fifth-highest grossing R-rated film of all time. The sequel, IT Chapter Two was released this past Septemeber 2019.

Charlie’s Angels 2000 Vs. Charlie’s Angels 2019

The 2000 film adaptation of the popular Charlie’s Angels television series gave “Independent Women” a whole new meaning. With the crime-fighting, hair-tossing trio that is Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu, how could it not? Although the film received mixed reviews, it was seen as an overall box-office success and even released a sequel in 2003.

Unfortunately, Bill Murry, who took on the role of Bosley in the first film, did not return for the sequel. However, Bernie Mac did a pretty great job in his place. Speaking of Bosley, the Charlie’s Angels remake, which released just this past November 2019, gave the comedic sidekick a little bit more girl power. And who better to take on the role then Elizabeth Banks. Taking on the angel wings are Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska.

King Kong 1933 Vs. King Kong 2005

When considering the limitations in film technology back in the ’30s, the special effects seen in the original King Kong must have been a gigantic challenge. The film’s breakthrough with the special effects gave it huge historic significance and the original was even selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

In the second remake of this iconic film, director Peter Jackson, who took on the task had quite a few more modernized techniques to work with. The film, starring Naomi Watts, Jack Black, and Adrien Brody received praise for its special effects and performances. It won three Academy Awards and became the 5th highest-grossing film of 2005.

Peter Pan 1924 Vs. Peter Pan 2003

Chances are most of us have not seen the original Peter Pan movie, a silent adventure film that released almost 30 years before the Disney animated classic. This film, starring Betty Bronson as Peter Pan, was the first adaptation of the play by J.M. Barrie. It was celebrated upon its release for its use of special effects and today is preserved in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Come 2003 and we have the first screen adaptation of Barrie’s novel since Disney’s animated movie. Peter Pan, starring Jeremy Sumpter as Peter was a box office hit. Contrary to most adaptations prior, this version decided to cast a young boy as the role of Peter instead of following the tradition of casting a woman.

The Wicker Man 1973 Vs. The Wicker Man 2006

1973 British horror film, The Wicker Man is a celebrated piece of U.K cinema. Although it initially only had moderate success, it has since won numerous awards and is considered one of the best films of 1973. Starring actor, Edward Woodward has even said that this was one of his favorite films and the best part he has ever played.

Unfortunately, the American remake, starring Nicolas Cage, is not held at such high regard. The film not only received negative reviews from critics, but it was also a financial failure. Many poke fun at the film calling it an unintentional comedy. Director Robin Hardy who was responsible for the original movie has dissociated himself from the remake entirely.

Alice in Wonderland 1933 Vs. Alice in Wonderland 2010

Even before Disney created its animated classic, Alice in Wonderland, Paramount Pictures created this lesser-known version. Truth be told, this 1933 film was a box office flop. Nevertheless, it did inspire a long string of creative adaptations.

The most recent of these, released in 2010, involved a powerful combination of Tim Burton as director and an all-star cast of Johnny Depp, Anne Hataway and Helena Bonham Carter. Although both films have the same title, the 2010 version follows a very different storyline. It received mixed reviews but released a sequel in 2016.

Ben-Hur 1925 Vs. Ben-Hur 2016

Following a short film released back in 1907, the 1925 silent adventure film, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ was the second adaptation of the 1880 novel of the same name. This movie quickly became a classic, which was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry.

This success eventually inspired the 1959 release of its iconic remake, Ben-Hur. The award-winning remake became the highest-grossing film of that year and the second-highest in history at the time. Come 2016, and the fourth live-action film adaptation was released. Unfortunately, this version did not receive the same love and was a box office flop.

The Stepford Wives 1975 Vs. The Stepford Wives 2004

The cult classic, The Stepford Wives, introduced a whole new concept of social commentary to the science fiction genre. It received a positive response from critics and audiences alike and inspired many films with similar premises.

The remake, starring A-listers such as Nicole Kidman, Matthew Broderick, Christopher Walken, and Bete Midler, took a very different approach to the original. While following the same plot, this 2004 version added an extra comedic element. It received mixed responses as some felt its satire could have used a bit more edge.

The Cage of Madwomen 1978 Vs. The Birdcage 1996

Here’s another popular remake that crossed international borders. The Cage of Madwomen or La Cage aux Folles is a Franco-Italian comedy based on a 1973 play of the same name. The film experienced widespread success, both in Frane and abroad.

It was followed by two sequels, a Broadway musical adaptation, and an American remake. The remake, The Birdcage, starring comedy legends Robin Williams and Nathan Lane also managed to top the box office upon its release.

True Grit 1969 Vs. True Grit 2010

The 1969 John Wayne film, True Grit is often brought up when speaking about good quality Western movies. Wayne’s performance earned him a Golden Globe as well as an Academy Award for Best Actor. This success led to the sequel, Rooster Cogburn, which Wayne returned for.

Taking on the challenge of filling Wayne’s award-winning cowboy boots was actor Jeff Bridges. Bridges starred alongside rising star Hailee Steinfeld in Steven Speilberg’s 2010 remake. The film was well-received by critics and nominated for several prestigious awards. But did it level up to the original? We will leave this one up to you.

Beauty and The Beast 1991 Vs. Beauty and The Beast 2017

Here’s one movie that everyone loves to bring up when discussing remakes. Throughout the last couple of years, Disney continues to bring their original classics to life with their release of live-action remakes. One of the first of these was Beauty and The Beast.

The remake received great reviews, mainly thanks to the performance of Harry Potter star, Emma Watson. Disney fans embraced her with open arms as she took on the role of Belle. The film became the highest-grossing live-action musical film and the second-highest-grossing film of 2017.

The Manchurian Candidate 1962 Vs. The Manchurian Candidate 2004

This Academy Award-nominated classic has long instilled itself into American cinematic history. The Manchurian Candidate, starring Frank Sinatra as its leading role, offered a new type of entertainment that blended thrill, satire, and political relevance all in one film.

It has since been preserved in the United States National Film Registry for its cultural and historical significance. In 2004, we saw a re-working of the original classic, this time starring crowd favorite, Denzel Washington. It was well-received overall but few feel it leveled up to the original.

Insomnia 1997 VS. Insomnia 2002

While including names like Al Pacino and Robin Williams in any movie generally makes it an instant hit, these stars were not the first to take on this critically acclaimed storyline. The film, Insomnia actually has an origin story a bit further away from home. Its original, which was released in 1997, takes us all the way to the icy peaks of Norway.

The first film was widely praised both for its plot and for the staring role performances. It’s no wonder that director, Christopher Nolan decided to take on the challenge of a remake. Naturally, with its star-studded cast and enthralling story, the remake was a huge success. So much so it even received praise from the director of the original film.

Suspiria 1977 Vs. Suspiria 2018

Suspiria, the original Italian motion picture, was not only an initial success upon its release in 1977, but has also since been deemed a cult classic. It is praised by horror movie buffs worldwide and inspired the release of two sequels, creating the trilogy known as “The Three Mothers.” The American remake, released just this past 2018, took a very different approach when it came to filming

While the original film is known for its use of loud, lavish colors, the updated version decided to take a more “winter-ish” approach, with muted colors and less vibrancy. The remake also employed the musical expertise of Radiohead singer, Thom Yorke, and stars popular actress, Dakota Johnson. It received very mixed reviews however its stylized dance sequences are widely praised.

The Mummy 1932 Vs. The Mummy 1999

It’s almost hard to believe that the successful Universal film series which first debuted in 1999 was not an original concept. In reality, it is actually loosely based on a 1932 film of the same name. Although the films have clear differences, both follow the same titular character, Imhotep, the mummy which rises from its tomb in search of his lost love.

The 1999 film, starring Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz, and Arnold Vosloo was a huge box office success. It inspired two sequels, an animated series and a spin of film titled The Scorpion King. Some even go as far as to call this film series the Indiana Jones of its generation. A bold statement to say the least!

The Total 1991 Vs. True Lies 1994

In yet another film that we adopted from the French, the 1994 film, True Lies also originated in the land of love, berets, and baguettes. The Total! or La Totale! is a French action-comedy starring award-winning French star, Miou-Miou.

Director James Cameron did not waste any time in bringing this motion picture to American audiences. Just two years later after the debut of the French original and True Lies had already graced our screens. This remake brought together stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis, among others and the result was an award-winning success.

A Star is Born 1937 Vs. A Star is Born 2018

If the buzz over A Star Is Born seems overrated, it shouldn’t at all. As most of you probably know, this incredible movie has been remade four times. Each time gracing audiences with glamorous stars like, Janet Gaynor, July Garland, Barbra Streisand, and Lady Gaga. Not surprisingly, each one obtained the attention of The Academy.

The 1937 film was nominated for seven competitive awards and the 1954 remake for six. Furthermore, the 1976 version, which sadly was the least successful of them all, was nominated for four. The last remake, however, was the best version of them all bringing home numerous accolades for the production. This remake also showcased a whole new side of pop star Lady Gaga and now people can’t seem to get enough of the films hit song, “Shallow.”

The Italian Job 1969 Vs. The Italian Job 2003

Here is a film whose remake drew a lot of contradicting opinions, The Italian Job. This original comedy, starring a young Michael Cane is considered by many as one of the greatest British films of all time. Although its popularity did not skyrocket in the U.S., it did make quite a name for itself internationally and is well renowned for the epic car chase seen at the end of the film.

The 2003 film includes a few critical changes to the original, making it more of a homage rather than a remake. They significantly altered the storyline and even flipped the script so that the actual con-job happens at the beginning of the film. While some did not appreciate these changes, others enjoyed the modern take on the 1969 heist. The film received generally positive reviews and most agreed that the charismatic cast, including Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron, was a win.

Lion King 1994 Vs. Lion King 2019

One of our all-time favorites, The Lion King. This movie made all of us laugh, sing and cry over and over again as we watched it on repeat for years following its 1994 release. The difference between the recent remake and the original was remarkable. Some say the new film was an impressive update to the Disney animated classic yet others felt it looked a bit too much like a nature documentary.

The movie’s legacy left quite a challenge for the 2019 movie as all the ’80s and ’90s mega fans had high expectations. Although director Jon Favreau recruited an impressive cast of voice actors, including Seth Rogen, John Oliver and Queen Beyonce herself, many felt a little let down by the characters being too realistic. Regardless, the remake offered a great piece of nostalgia for all who saw it.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels 1988 Vs. The Hustle 2019

This summer we were introduced to the dynamic duo that is Ann Hathaway and Rebel Wilson. Their movie, The Hustle, presented their fans with a female-centered remake of the popular 80s film, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. While its predecessor, starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin, offered a clever update to the original 1964 film, Bedtime Story, this 2019 remake did not quite hit the mark.

Although critics agree that Hathaway and Wilson made a great team, it seems people felt the film was missing an added element beyond its feminist twist. On the contrary, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, which is also a remake, offered a clever, updated version of the original movie.

The Last Man on Earth 1964 Vs. I Am Legend 2007

You might not have realized this but Will Smith was not the first man in Hollywood history to survive the zombie apocalypse. Way before Smith’s days fighting off bad guys, there was Vincent Price and his starring role in the 1964 film, The Last Man on Earth. This film, based on the 1954 novel, I Am Legend did not initially bode well with critics due to its low budget but today is praised as a classic of the horror genre.

Luckily for us, Smith’s version, titled according to the novel, had more of a budget to work with, and the reviews certainly showed for it. I Am Legend became the seventh-highest grossing film of 2007 and, although some did not love their divergence from the book’s ending, it received praise by viewers and critics alike. null

Cinderella 1957 Vs. Cinderella 1997

Does the face on the left look familiar to any of you? Well, that’s because it belongs to living Hollywood legend, Julie Andrews. Andrews starred in one of the first live-action Cinderella movies in “happily ever after” history. This televised movie also gave Andrew’s one of her first starring roles in her career. Another noteworthy Cinderella, who has also made quite a name for herself through the years, is singer and actress, Brandy Norwood.

In 1997 She starred in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella alongside the likes of big names such as Whitney Houston, Jason Alexander, and Whoopi Goldberg. It’s no wonder this made for TV film was such a huge success! Thanks to their wonderfully diverse casting, catchy new songs, and beautiful costumes, this 1997 version became one of the most-watched television musicals of its time.