Movie Remakes That Are Better Than the Original

Movie Remakes That Are Better Than the Original

Disney’s remake of its 1994 blockbuster “The Lion King” — scheduled for theatrical release on July 19 — is just the latest high-profile movie to be based on an earlier film. In recent months theaters across the country have screened remakes of “Aladdin,” “Child’s Play,” “Pet Sematary,” and “Dumbo,” among others. And while these films had varying success at the box office, each has turned a profit, indicating a winning formula for Hollywood.

Remakes and reboots can often be seen as cynical cash grabs by movie studios, which are using previously successful movie ideas — and many of them indeed fail as in the case with the worst movie remakes of all time. Still, many others have much to offer. In certain cases, the remake is even better than the original movie.

24/7 Tempo identified 25 movie remakes that are better than the original based on audience and critic ratings on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) and Rotten Tomatoes. The movies are listed in order of most highly rated.

For a remake to surpass the quality of its original version, its creators must often have a fresh vision for the story. Simply recreating what already exists won’t cut it. Steven Soderbergh’s “Ocean’s Eleven” is a slick caper that leaves the Rat Pack-starring original looking tired. Director David Cronenberg’s “The Fly” is imaginative and tragic in ways that its B-movie predecessor is not, placing it among the best horror films of all time. The original films are not necessarily bad, but the remakes are exceptional.

Other remakes are successful because of technology that was not available when the original movie was released. The 2016 version of “The Jungle Book” is visually stunning thanks to its combination of live action and computer graphics. For many modern audiences, the simple animation of Disney’s original movie cannot compare.


To determine the best and worst movie remakes, 24/7 Tempo created an index using each film’s Rotten Tomatoes average critic rating, Rotten Tomatoes average audience rating, and Internet Movie Database average user rating. To be considered, each film — both remakes and originals — had to have at least 10,000 total user ratings between IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes and 10 approved Tomatometer critic reviews.

We averaged the user ratings from Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb and weighted by the number of votes for each. The combined user rating was then averaged with the Rotten Tomatoes critic rating. Only movie remakes for which the final rating exceeded that of the movie’s original version were included.

All of the films included are labeled “remake” on IMDb. For our list, we included reimaginings in addition to strict remakes. We excluded films based on television series.

Source: Courtesy of Lions Gate Films

25. The Punisher (2004)
> Directed by: Jonathan Hensleigh
> Starring: Thomas Jane, John Travolta, Samantha Mathis
> Original film: The Punisher (1989)

This action-packed thriller adapted from a Marvel Comics series starred Thomas Jane as the FBI agent bent on revenge in the remake and hulking Swedish actor Dolph Lundgren in the original. Neither film did well with critics. Rex Reed of the Observer said, “There isn’t a moment in ‘The Punisher’ that isn’t borrowed or stolen from another movie.” Even so, 63% of audiences liked the film on Rotten Tomatoes, compared with just 32% for the original movie.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

24. Tomb Raider (2018)
> Directed by: Roar Uthaug
> Starring: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins
> Original film: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

“Tomb Raider” is a reboot of the 2001 film “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” that starred Angelie Jolie in the title role. In the remake, Alicia Vikander stars as Lara Croft, who goes in search of her adventurer father who is believed to be dead. Critics on Rotten Tomatoes gave the remake a score of 52%, though David Sims, a writer at The Atlantic, said, “Tomb Raider could best be described as a solid step forward, away from past wrongs.”

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

23. Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)
> Directed by: Dominic Sena
> Starring: Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie, Giovanni Ribisi
> Original film: Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)

Critics on Rotten Tomatoes were less enthusiastic about the remake of “Gone in 60 Seconds,” a story about master car thieves, than they were about the original film in 1974. In truth, the real star in the original was a 1973 Ford Mustang. However, audiences preferred the reboot that stars Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie, and Giovanni Ribisi.

Source: Courtesy of Overture Films

22. The Crazies (2010)
> Directed by: Breck Eisner
> Starring: Radha Mitchell, Timothy Olyphant, Danielle Panabaker
> Original film: The Crazies (1973)

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 $270,000, while the remake cost $20 million to produce.

Source: Courtesy of Dimension Films

21. Piranha 3D (2010)
> Directed by: Alexandre Aja
> Starring: Elisabeth Shue, Jerry O’Connell, Richard Dreyfuss
> Original film: Piranha (1978)

The original “Piranha” has its fans, including Steven Spielberg, who called it the “best of the Jaws rip-offs.” The 2010 film — which was originally released in 3D — is held in higher regard overall, however, thanks to its over-the-top gore, nudity, and horror-based comedy.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

20. The Great Gatsby (2013)
> Directed by: Baz Luhrmann
> Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton
> Original film: The Great Gatsby (1974)

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece has been brought to the big screen four times, and none of the versions has been well received. The 2013 remake starring Leonardo DiCaprio has the highest score of the four, but that is still only 48% approval amongst critics on Rotten Tomatoes.

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

19. Freaky Friday (2003)
> Directed by: Mark Waters
> Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Lindsay Lohan, Mark Harmon
> Original film: Freaky Friday (1976)

Critics freaked for the 2003 remake of “Freaky Friday,” bestowing upon it an 87% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The original received a 68% rating. The site’s Critics Consensus cites the charming performances of Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan in this fun body-switching movie.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

18. I Am Legend (2007)
> Directed by: Francis Lawrence
> Starring: Will Smith, Alice Braga, Charlie Tahan
> Original film: The Last Man on Earth (1964)

The 1964 film “The Last Man on Earth” stars Vincent Price as vampire-slaying scientist Robert Morgan. In “I Am Legend,” similarly based on Richard Matheson’s novel of the same name, Will Smith plays the scientist and the results are positive. The movie was a hit and one of the top-grossing films of 2007, raking in more than $256 million at the domestic box office.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

17. Charlotte’s Web (2006)
> Directed by: Gary Winick
> Starring: Dakota Fanning, Julia Roberts, Oprah Winfrey
> Original film: Charlotte’s Web (1973)

The original film version of E. B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web” is an animated musical first released in 1973. More than 30 years later, a live-action remake was released, starring Julia Roberts, Steve Buscemi, and Oprah, among others. The 2006 movie is certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, with 146 critics giving it an overall freshness rating of 79%.

Source: Courtesy of Lionsgate

16. Dredd (2012)
> Directed by: Pete Travis
> Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey
> Original film: Judge Dredd (1995)

“Dredd” tells the story of a powerful law enforcement officer (Karl Urban) in the futuristic Mega City One. The movie was praised for its special effects and humor. The original version — “Judge Dredd” — was enjoyed by only 17% of critics on Rotten Tomatoes and earned star Sylvester Stallone a Razzie Award nomination for Worst Actor in 1996.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

15. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
> Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
> Starring: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts
> Original film: Ocean’s 11 (1960)

Steven Soderbergh’s 2001 heist film is fun, energetic, and boasting an ensemble cast that consists of top Hollywood superstars. The slick remake was a success, becoming the eighth highest grossing movie of the year and kicking off a lucrative franchise. The movie is based on a 1960 film that stars Rat Pack royalty Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr.

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

14. Pete’s Dragon (2016)
> Directed by: David Lowery
> Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Oakes Fegley
> Original film: Pete’s Dragon (1977)

A mix of live action and animation, “Pete’s Dragon” was originally released by Disney in 1977. The movie is described on Rotten Tomatoes’ Critics Consensus as “boring and slow” and “a lesser Disney work.” Its 2016 reimagining was a critical success, however, winning over 88% of critics on the site.

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

13. Les Misérables (2012)
> Directed by: Tom Hooper
> Starring: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway
> Original film: Les Misérables (1998)

The 2012 version of “Les Misérables” is only rated slightly better than its precursor, released just four years prior. Yet it is far more widely seen. The later film grossed more than 10 times the amount of the 1998 version at the domestic box office.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

12. Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
> Directed by: Frank Oz
> Starring: Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Vincent Gardenia
> Original film: The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Director Frank Oz’s remake of the 1960 black comedy directed by B-movie helmsman Roger Corman was a full-blown musical comedy inspired by the Broadway play. In the reboot, Rick Moranis stars as the nebbish flower shop worker who discovers an exotic carnivore plant. Some 79% of audiences liked the film on Rotten Tomatoes, compared with just 55% for the original, which features an appearance by a young Jack Nicholson.

Source: Courtesy of Lionsgate

11. 3:10 to Yuma (2007)
> Directed by: James Mangold
> Starring: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Ben Foster
> Original film: 3:10 to Yuma (1957)

The 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 improved on the original because of the “fiery” performances by Russell Crowe and Christian Bale and the direction from James Mangold.

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

10. The Jungle Book (2016)
> Directed by: Jon Favreau
> Starring: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley
> Original film: The Jungle Book (1967)

The original Disney movie “The Jungle Book,” released in 1967, is considered a classic by many and is the last film that was partially overseen during production by Walt Disney himself. However, the 2016 remake is more widely enjoyed by both critics and audiences, according to Rotten Tomatoes, thanks in part to its cutting-edge CGI.

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

9. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
> Directed by: David Fincher
> Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer
> Original film: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

The English-language version of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” was released two years after the Swedish-language version. Both are based on the novel by Swedish writer Stieg Larsson, and while the two films have similar ratings, the 2011 film is more popular, therefore outranking the earlier version. The remake was also nominated for five Academy Awards, winning the award for Best Achievement in Film Editing.

Source: Courtesy of New Line Cinema

8. Hairspray (2007)
> Directed by: Adam Shankman
> Starring: John Travolta, Queen Latifah, Nikki Blonsky
> Original film: Hairspray (1988)

Director Adam Shankman’s exuberant film about dance-crazy Baltimore youth fighting for civil rights in the 1960s adheres more to the Broadway musical version than John Waters’ subversive 1988 take on the culture. Audiences on Rotten Tomatoes gave the reboot a score of 85%, just above the original’s score of 80%.

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

7. The Thing (1982)
> Directed by: John Carpenter
> Starring: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David
> Original film: The Thing from Another World (1951)

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 was released around the same time as “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%.

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

6. The Fly (1986)
> Directed by: David Cronenberg
> Starring: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz
> Original film: The Fly (1958)

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 92% Freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences awarded the film a score of 83%, topping the score of 71% of the original that stars horror genre’s redoubtable Vincent Price.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

5. True Grit (2010)
> Directed by: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
> Starring: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld
> Original film: True Grit (1969)

Jeff Bridges got an Oscar nomination for his performance as Rooster Cogburn, the liquored-up U.S. marshall tracking the killer of the father of the girl who hired him. The role won an Oscar for John Wayne in the original movie. The reboot, which made over $171 million at the box office, stayed closer to the novel by Charles Portis than the original film. Both movies had virtually identical audience scores on Rotten Tomatoes. The remake, however, received a Freshness score of 96% among critics on Rotten Tomatoes.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

4. Airplane! (1980)
> Directed by: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker
> Starring: Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty, Leslie Nielsen
> Original film: Zero Hour! (1957)

“Airplane!” is a reimagined version of the 1957 film “Zero Hour!” — which isn’t even a comedy. The comedy flick “Airplane!” is a considerably different film from its inspiration, the 1957 serious thriller “Zero Hour!” Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and David Zucker didn’t just buy the script, but the actual rights to the earlier film. This allowed them to recreate numerous scenes, and inject them with humor. “Zero Hour!” is now perhaps best known as simply being the source material for the 1980 comedy.

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

3. A Christmas Carol (1951)
> Directed by: Brian Desmond Hurst
> Starring: Alastair Sim, Jack Warner, Kathleen Harrison
> Original film: A Christmas Carol (1938)

There have been many versions of the Charles Dickens’ classic about the redemption of literature’s most famous miser, but the 1951 film starring Alastair Sim is considered the best and most faithful to the novella. This version has an 89% rating among audiences on Rotten Tomatoes, compared with 74% for the 1938 movie that stars Reginald Owen.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

2. The Departed (2006)
> Directed by: Martin Scorsese
> Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson
> Original film: Infernal Affairs (2002)

“The Departed” is Martin Scorsese’s most financially successful film to date. The movie is based on the popular Hong Kong thriller “Infernal Affairs.” Scorsese’s gritty flick, supported by its star-studded cast, wins among audiences. It also took home Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Writing.

Source: soldiersmediacenter / Flickr

1. His Girl Friday (1940)
> Directed by: Howard Hawks
> Starring: Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy
> Original film: The Front Page (1931)

Director Howard Hawks’ fast-paced homage to tabloid journalism, starring Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, and Ralph Bellamy, has a Freshness rating of 98% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. The original film that featured Adolphe Menjou and Pat O’Brien is hardly a slouch, earning a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences far prefer the Hawks film, however.

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