Very rarely do film remakes turn out to be better than their original, but for some reason Hollywood seems quick to put a modern spin on any and all fan-favorite classics, leaving viewers asking: is nothing sacred? Here’s a list of reboots that ratings and critics agree are the worst movie remakes to ever hit the big screen. Moral of the story? Never mess with a good thing.
25. Ghostbusters (2016): 74%
Producers of the Ghostbusters 2016 remake had their work cut out for them long before the film even hit the big screen. Not only did they have big shoes to fill in order to duplicate the success of the 1984 original, but they received a lot of flack for their all-female cast, which saw Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, and Leslie Jones as stars.
When the film was released, critics couldn’t help but note just how badly it paled in comparison with the original. It turned out to be a big budget flop and received a 74% on Rotten Tomatoes. For better or for worse, a third Ghostbusters reboot is scheduled to hit theaters in July of 2020. Here’s to hoping that the third time’s the charm?
24. Footloose (2011): 69%
If you forgot that the 1984 original version of Footloose was recreated in 2011, you’re not alone. Critics cited it as being so dull that it was wholly forgettable. The acting was sub-par, the dancing was cheesy, and the plot development was riddled with problems.
The remake was said to follow the original screenplay almost too exactly. In fact, the songs were mostly the same and so were the lines. But fans say one major thing was missing: Kevin Bacon, and for that reason it was doomed to fail from the get-go. All in all, the movie received a score of 69% on Rotten Tomatoes.
23. RoboCop (2014): 48%
Sci-fi action thriller RoboCop was a major hit among viewers in 1987. Audiences loved everything about the film — from its violent action scenes to its visual effects to the comedy and critique of consumerism in the Reagan era. It was so successful, in fact, that the franchise introduced a number of sequels, video games, cartoons, action figures, and even a television series.
And then, of course, there’s that 2014 remake. Unfortunately, this one wasn’t so well-received. Critics bashed its overly plot-centric storyline, which was far too serious and lacked any and all humor. Add to that a poor substitution of Joel Kinnaman for Peter Weller, and you’ve got yourself a 48% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
22. Psycho (1998): 38%
Name a better thriller classic — we’ll wait. Famed film director Alfred Hitchcock brought Psycho to the big screen in 1960 and everything from its cinematography to its subversion of expectations and the constant ominous feeling of terror it evoked was spot-on. Such mastery is hard to replicate, which is in large part why Gus Van Sant’s attempt totally flopped.
Van Sant brought nothing new to the table when it came time to shoot his 1998 remake. He used the same camera shots, editing, and word-for-word script. Even most of the playlist was the same! The film received a 38% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and viewers couldn’t help but think the whole remake was quite pointless.
21. Around the World in 80 Days (2004): 32%
Remaking an Academy Award-winning film should be illegal, especially remaking one that has taken home a total of five Academy Awards! But unfortunately, there’s no law of this sort and that’s why in 2004, someone was granted permission to redo the timeless tale of the 1956 adventure film based on the classic Jules Verne novel, Around the World in 80 Days.
Whereas the original centers around the misadventures of Phileas Fogg, the remake shifts the focus to Passepartout, played by Jackie Chan. The second failed to bring the same energy and humor to the screen as the first, and wound up winning an award for Most Unwelcome Remake at The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards.
20. Poltergeist (2015): 32%
Back in 1982, Steven Spielberg joined forces with Texas Chainsaw Massacre creator Tobe Hooper to create a kid-friendly haunted house film that follows a family’s attempt to save their daughter from demonic forces. There were many things that made Poltergeist a hit in its time, namely its phenomenal acting, solid script with memorable catchphrases, and a perfect mix of fun and scares.
When it came time for its 2015 remake, fans lamented that the new film lacked all of the above. Director Gil Kenan’s rendition fell short of introducing any new twists and turns to keep viewers interested, and the storyline itself just didn’t land as a worthwhile tribute to its original.
NEXT: This fan-favorite classic definitely should not have been tampered with!
19. Total Recall (2012): 31%
In the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger-led action thriller Total Recall, construction worker Douglas Quaid tries to understand why he keeps dreaming about Mars. It doesn’t take long before he finds out that people planted a fake memory in his mind, and now want him killed.
The film was a success thanks to its wacky, goofy, and overall memorable scenes. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about its 2012 remake, which was criticized for being bland and lacking any sort of drama or feeling of tension. Not only that, but the decision to set the film on a dystopian Earth instead of on Mars only wound up being cool in theory.
18. Annie (2014): 27%
There’s no denying that Annie is one of the most iconic musicals of all time. Dating back to 1977, the original play was first adapted into a movie in 1982, directed by the legendary John Huston and featuring such screen sensations as Albert Finney, Carol Burnett, and Tim Curry. It was then followed by a 1999 made-for-television remake and a 2014 reboot.
The most recent remake adds a 21st century twist to the Depression-era-set musical and shows Annie living in a New York City apartment alongside other foster children. But a setting that differed so greatly from the original wasn’t what earned the film a 27% on Rotten Tomatoes. Instead, critics cited the film’s cliché performances, heavy auto tune, and obnoxious materialism it showcased as the reason for its failure.
17. The Stepford Wives (2004): 26%
Based on Ira Levin’s book of the same title, The Stepford Wives was first brought to the big screen in 1975. Never mind the notion that movies can never do justice to the novels that precede them; critics absolutely loved Bryan Forbes’ eerily disquieting on-screen adaptation.
Regrettably, the same can’t be said of Frank Oz’s 2004 remake. The film follows the same storyline of a couple who move to an upscale neighborhood where the men scheme to replace their wives with robots, yet even with an A-list cast, it failed to deliver in the places that matter. Critics on Rotten Tomatoes cited the film as being “humorless,” “replete with weak jokes and embarrassing stereotypes,” and “one of the most miserable failures of recent memory.”
16. Arthur (2011): 26%
In 2011, bawdy and brainy English comedian Russell Brand at last had his first debut as a film lead in the rom-com remake of the 1981 film, Arthur. It was an accomplishment that should have been celebrated, and fans everywhere believed he’d nail the role of playing a boozy billionaire — especially given his past.
But only four days after it hit the big screen, the Hollywood Reporter announced that the original had already earned shockingly less in box-office dollars than the remake. Why? A.O Scott from The New York Times suggested it was because the first Arthur was “the product of a less anxious age,” and drunks just aren’t funny nowadays.
15. Friday the 13th (2009): 26%
The Friday the 13th teen horror franchise has been around since 1980 and has seen a total of 11 films produced. Only a handful of those 11 films have proven to be box office success stories, and the 2009 reboot is far from being one of them.
The writers of the reboot script, Mark Swift and Damian Shannon (who also wrote Freddy vs. Jason), believed they had a simple solution to attract franchise fans: don’t remake just the first Friday the 13th movie, but the first four. Unsurprisingly, viewers were left feeling like all the most notable bits were jam-packed into one unbearably long story.
NEXT: Most viewers couldn’t believe their eyes when they watched this reboot. Cringe!
14. Conan the Barbarian (2011): 25%
An attempt to reboot the 1982 fantasy adventure film, Conan the Barbarian in 2011 proved that there was no way to up the ante on the film that gave Arnold Schwarzenegger his breakthrough role. Not even showing off Jason Mamoa’s impressive physique as the film’s star was enough to save the movie.
Lionsgate was expecting over a $20 million opening, but the film wound up tanking in the low tens with horrible reviews. Critics bashed everything from the predictable script to the dull acting and poorly-executed special effects. The characters were also said to be rudimentary and one-dimensional, and the film as a whole failed to evoke any sense of nostalgia for the ’80s.
13. Ben-Hur (2016): 25%
When most historical drama fans think back to one of the most legendary classics in the genre, their mind immediately jumps to the 1959 Charlton Heston rendition of Ben-Hur — and rightfully so, seeing as the film won a staggering 11 Academy Awards, landing it a distinction as one of the most decorated films in history.
With such success, it’s hard to imagine how a remake could possibly be better, but this didn’t stop Paramount from giving it a shot in 2016. Sadly, the film proved to be a total box office flop thanks to bad editing, even worse CGI, and character dialogue that seemed robotic and downright hokey. The film’s only saving grace were a few thrilling action scenes, but even those were too few and far between.
12. Flubber (1997): 24%
When an absent-minded professor accidentally creates flying rubber — which he calls “flubber” — he’s able to save his college from getting shut-down, his career from going bust, and his romance from failing. Such is the plot of the 1997 family comedy film Flubber starring Robin Williams.
The film was actually a remake of Disney’s 1961 The Absent-Minded Professor, but while the original was praised for its special effects (it was nominated for an Academy Award) and hyperbolic humor, the reboot was criticized for its very lack thereof. In fact, the latter received a meek 24% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics claiming it was a “waste of talent” and “slow, flat, and dumb.”
11. Fame (2009): 24%
In 1980, director Alan Parker delivered arguably one of his best films yet: Fame. Set in New York City, the film follows the journey of a group of high school performing arts students as they attempt to master their respective craft and overcome obstacles in their personal lives, the classroom, and on stage.
The film was celebrated for its lively musical numbers and authentic, complex, and relatable characters. It was a staple in the ’80s and earned two Academy Awards and one Golden Globe to prove it. Though such a classic is better left alone, it was remade in 2009. Critics didn’t have the nicest things to say about it, comparing its cheesiness and poor musicality to High School Musical and Glee.
10. The Pink Panther (2006): 21%
The Pink Panther boasts an expansive franchise dating back to 1963, when the first Pink Panther film was released. Centering around an incompetent detective named Inspector Jacques Clouseau, played by legendary British comic actor Peter Sellers, the comedy inspired many more media adaptations to follow including sequels, comic books, books, and animated series.
There’s no denying the authentic charm that Sellers brought to the screen. It was so extraordinary that not even award-winning actor Steve Martin could replicate it in the 2006 reboot. Fans just weren’t drawn to Martin’s performance and jokes in the same way they had been to Sellers’. For this reason, along with seemingly “pointless supporting characters” and a “tiresome storyline,” most critics panned the film as a whole.
NEXT: Can you guess Hollywood’s worst-rated remake?
9. The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008): 21%
The science fiction thriller The Day the Earth Stood Still first hit theaters in 1951. Loosely based on Harry Bates’ 1940 short story “Farewell to the Master,” the film centers around a man from outer space who visits Earth to warn its inhabitants against extending their arms technology, playing perfectly off of America’s Cold War paranoid fear of foreigners and nuclear annihilation.
Producers decided to take a different approach when creating the 2008 reboot. Instead of interlacing anti-war sentiments throughout the plot, the remake focused on environmental damage caused at the hands of humans. The new theme didn’t appeal to audiences nearly as much as the first had, and critics bashed the film for being preachy and relying too heavily on special effects.
8. Gulliver’s Travels (2010): 20%
When travel writer Lemuel Gulliver’s trip to the Bermuda Triangle goes awry, he finds himself on an island called Lilliput that’s inhabited by tons of tiny people. The story was first brought to life in Jonathan Swift’s 1726 novel centuries before it inspired the creation of a Japanese theme park, as well as a number of songs and films. The movie adaptations range from Disney to Hanna Barbera to a feature with Richard Harris in the lead.
The latest film adaptation in 2010, which featured the star-studded cast of Jack Black, Jason Segel, and Emily Blunt, received a meager 20% rating on Rotten Tomatoes thanks to unconvincing, humorless, and lazy writing, acting, and filmmaking. The whole production was unfortunately said to be a disservice to its source material.
7. Godzilla (1998): 16%
The monstrous character of Godzilla has long served as a mythical symbol of Japanese film legend ever since his debut back in 1954. This has remained true over the years, even throughout its transformation along different series. Fans say that’s all until Roland Emmerich got his hands on it in 1998.
The famed film director completely revamped the monster’s design so much so that it bore no resemblance to any Godzilla viewers had previously known and loved. Critics panned his 1998 Godzilla for stripping away everything the character represented to its original audience and leaving in its place one large, mutated dinosaur.
6. The Mummy (2017): 16%
While the 2017 rendition of The Mummy starring Tom Cruise was supposed to be a blockbuster like its 1999 predecessor that famously starred Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz, it ended up being a total flop. The film lost nearly $100 million and critics claimed to have had an idea why.
Corniness aside, the whole premise behind the movie was unrealistic, as a princess would never have been chosen as the next Pharaoh in ancient Egypt. If there were no sons in line to be crowned, then the title would’ve been granted to the next male in the family. It seems this mistake alone was enough to make fans bury The Mummy in their minds forever.
5. The Haunting (1999): 16%
The 1959 Gothic horror novel, The Haunting of Hill House written by Shirley Jackson has inspired a number of different adaptations, ranging from movies to a two-season series. Audiences reacted positively to the first chilling 1963 film adaptation, and in hindsight, DreamWorks should’ve left it at that instead of attempting — and failing — to reboot it some 36 years later.
The remake follows a group of people who are lured into a haunted house after signing up to participate in a study on insomnia. Despite the talent of the cast, which starred Liam Neeson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Owen Wilson, critics claimed the suspenseful moments were ruined by being unintentionally campy, and who wants that from a horror movie?!
4. A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010): 15%
The 2010 remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street is yet another horror film reboot that got a disastrous response from critics and fans alike. With a 15% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it seems the majority of people were in agreement that the movie was nothing but a giant mistake.
Even the film’s Oscar-nominated writer Eric Heisserer gave a nightmarish account of producing the film. He posted a Twitter thread saying his script was ruined by film director Samuel Bayer, who swapped out eerie, dark scenes for lighter ones and in turn stripped the thriller of all its thrilling moments. Seems like some seriously bad decision-making.
3. The Wicker Man (2006): 15%
The 1973 horror cult classic The Wicker Man chronicles the adventure of police officer Neil Howie as he visits an isolated Scottish island in search of a missing young girl. On the island lives a pagan cult, who he fears has taken the girl as a human sacrifice. But as it turns out, the island’s bizarrely cheerful residents have something even more scary in store for Howie himself.
Despite intertwining riveting themes of religion and quietly-paced suspense mixed with Celtic imagery and folk music, the film is a horror thriller at its core. The 2006 remake totally missed the mark on all accounts, with viewers citing its unintentional humor as a major reason behind why it bombed at the box office.
2. The Fog (2005): 4%
John Carpenter’s 1980 horror film The Fog is about — you guessed it — a harrowing fog that’s made up of terrorizing ghosts who envelop a small California town and threaten its inhabitants. Because it was produced at the start of the ’80s, director Rupert Wainwright believed he could remake it in 2005 and give the special effects a facelift.
But what ended up happening was the plot getting totally botched in the process. Was there nail-biting suspense? Not quite. Any scares? Also no. Scary fog? Not even that! Critic Matt Singer said it best: “The clouds in two-thirds of this movie are so sparse they wouldn’t even warrant a push notification from your phone’s weather app.”
1. Rollerball (2002): 3%
And finally, the film do-over that was so unredeemably heinous it was rated the worst movie remake of all time: the 2002 reboot of Rollerball. The film was given a painful 3% on Rotten Tomatoes thanks to its over-the-top violence and 100-too-many plot holes. Some critics even claimed that it was worse than watching Disney Channel’s Brink. Ouch.
The sci-fi sports mess was a remake of the 1975 film of the same name, which shows a corporate-run futuristic world represented by a violent sport called Rollerball. If nothing else, the remake can serve as an example of how not to reboot an old classic.
Continue reading for some more honorable mentions that made this not-so-honorable worst movie remakes list.
Honorable Mention: Swept Away (2002): 5%
The 2002 drama, Swept Away may have failed to move audiences, but it did manage to sweep the Razzie awards, winning 5 Razzies including Worst Picture. The remake, based on the 1974 film directed by Lina Wertmuller, tells the story of a wealthy socialite that becomes stranded on an island with a poor deckhand.
In the original and award-winning film, the undercurrent of political and social commentary fuels the tension between the two characters. In the remake, those important conversations are removed, leaving a weak story line and lackluster acting. Despite casting Adriano Giannini, the son of the original male lead, Giancarlo Giannini, the film couldn’t stay afloat. The film went straight to video in the U.K., and maintains a paltry 5% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Honorable Mention: Charlie’s Angels (2019): 51%
Few quotes are as iconic as “Good Morning Charlie,” the greeting immortalized by the trio of crime-fighting women known as Charlie’s Angels. The entertaining band of spies captured the hearts of audiences in the 1970s on the action series, Charlie’s Angels. While the series has since been updated and remade several times, its latest reincarnation was less angelic, and more pointless.
Directed by actress Elizabeth Banks, the newest remake used the original story, but updated the script to focus on more powerful female leads. Most critics and moviegoers were not impressed, however. They felt that the remake lacked humor, and felt like a desperate try at reviving an over-done story. While some reviews were positive, particularly those that praised the team’s chemistry and diversity, the film failed to bring in the numbers studios had anticipated.
Honorable Mention: The Women (2008): 14%
In attempting to fill the stylish shoes of the original 1939 classic, The Women, the 2008 remake failed miserably to live up to the original. The remake chronicles the scandalous lives of wealthy women living in Manhattan, and the choices they must make when faced with life challenges. While the original entertained audiences with its wit and sharp dialogue, the remake fell flat.
Critics panned the remake, pointing to the group’s lack of chemistry, and the script that was seemingly devoid of the sass that defined the original film. Critics lamented the fact that the powerful classic had been watered down to a generic chick-flick movie filled with tired tropes about the battle of the sexes. Despite positive performances by the film’s strong leads, The Women had critics ripping it to pieces leaving it with a meager 14% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Honorable Mention: The Stepfather: 11%
In the original 1987 horror movie, The Stepfather, director Joseph Ruben wove suspense and dark humor in order to make a chilling statement on family values. The remake, however, failed to capture those nuances, and audiences were left bored instead of on the edge-of their sets.
Both films center on a man’s quest for a “perfect family”, when they don’t live up to his standards, he kills them. Critics bashed the bland film for its unrealistic scenes, and felt it strayed far from its violent and dark predecessor. Empire Magazine referred to it as “cliché-ridden and full of plot-holes”, and other critics blasted the horror movie’s lack of scary scenes. The not-so-scary scary movie managed to only snag an 11% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Honorable Mention: Get Carter (2000): 12%
For many film fans, the idea of remaking the British gangster classic, Get Carter, would simply be criminal. Unfortunately, studios decided to resurrect the classic in the 2000 remake starring Sylvester Stallone. Critics and die hard fans were not impressed with Rocky’s performance in the classic crime noir film.
While the original film was considered by The Guardian to be “one of the most formidable British thrillers of its time”, the remake left critics simply shrugging. Critics felt that the remake was too generic and lacked the grit and mystery that the original exuded. Stallone, who played the lead gangster out for blood, was not only panned for his physical appearance, but for his lifeless performance. The mobster remake was able to only steal a 12% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Honorable Mention: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014): 22%
As one of the most iconic comic book characters, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hold a special place in the hearts of most audiences. Unfortunately, the 2014 remake of the film failed to capture the humor and excitement of the cartoon. Despite Michael Bay’s production abilities and Megan Fox’s star power, the film was dragged down the sewer by film critics.
Critics were not impressed by what they felt was a poor story line, and over reliance on special effects. Moviegoers felt that the film was a generic, and unimaginative insult to their beloved childhood heroes, causing them to say “no thanks” instead of “cowabunga!” .
Honorable Mention: Bangkok Dangerous (2008): 8%
Nicolas Cage is no stranger to having his films ripped apart by film critics. His 2008 flop, Bangkok Dangerous, a remake of the Thai thriller of the same name, was no exception. The action crime thriller had audiences feeling they were in danger of falling asleep.
In the film, Cage plays a hit man sent to Bangkok, Thailand to complete a series of assassinations. The film goes from action film to slow-paced love story, when he meets starts a romance with a local shop girl. Critics felt that Cage’s lifeless performance (and strange hair) distracted them from the action scenes. They felt that the film lacked the excitement that made the original Thai version enjoyable. Unfortunately for directors, audiences couldn’t see past Cage’s wig, and the films generic feeling.
Honorable Mention: The Heartbreak Kid (2007): 29%
In the 1972 film of the same name, the ideas of love and life choices are explored in a subtly humorous, and satiric way. Unfortunately, the 2007 remake starring Ben Stiller lacked all subtly, and was simply considered a heartbreaking idea of a comedy.
In the film, Stiller plays a man that realizes he’s trapped in the wrong relationship, and should be with another woman. Directed by Peter and Bobby Farrelly, the film features the signature outlandish scenes the brothers are famous for. The outrageous scenes had audiences feeling uncomfortable with the film’s humor, which many felt was more poor taste, and less witty than the humor in the original film. The comedy flop only managed to get a 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes in comparison to the original, which secured a “Fresh” rating of 92%.
Honorable Mention: The Invasion (2007): 19%
It’s a rare occasion when two strong actors, Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, can come together to produce such a bad movie. The 2007 remake of the classic film, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, had audiences dozing off instead of fearing for their lives.
The remake, based loosely on the 1956 classic film, follows a psychiatrist trying to solve the mystery behind an epidemic that is altering human behavior. Critics dismissed the film’s sloppy political undertones and overall weak story. They felt that the film lacked the thrilling scenes needed to keep viewers focused. The abysmal zombie flick had fans of the original thriller begging for the remake to end.
Honorable Mention: Point Break (2015): 11%
The 2015 remake of the film Point Break, just couldn’t get audiences to hang-ten with the surf crime action flick. The remake, follows the original story, in which the lead goes undercover to hit the waves with a group of surfers suspected of committing a series of robberies.
Despite the incredible shots of exotic locations, and “admittedly amazing action sequences”, the remake couldn’t capture audiences. Critics panned the poor acting, unbelievable plot lines, and general weak story. Moviegoers felt that the film placed too much of an emphasis on capturing intricate stunts and physical scenery, than on character development. Others felt that the mediocre original had no business being remade in the first place. Sadly, the expensive remake bombed at the box office, with fans hoping this will be the last attempt to revive the action film.
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