In 1960, director Lewis Milestone put together a powerhouse group of superstars to star in his heist film — Ocean’s 11. Milestone’s film starred five members of the Rat Pack: Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford. More than 40 years later, Steven Soderbergh took on the responsibility of remaking the film. Thankfully, the director made sure his version also included a handful of megastars. A highly entertaining film, Ocean’s Eleven featured Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts and Andy Garcia. Both exhilarating and funny, Ocean’s Eleven is one of the best remakes in film history.
The Lion King
It was only a matter of time before Disney would attempt to cash in on a Lion King reboot. Dating back to the original film’s release in 1994, The Lion King has been regarded as one of the greatest animated films of all-time. Directed by Jon Favreau, the new edition utilizes photorealistic computer-animation — opposed to the original’s traditional style of animation. While James Earl Jones reprised his role as Mufasa, a handful of current stars — Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Beyonce, Chiwetel Ejiofor (to name a few) — stepped to the plate for this beautiful remake.
The Mummy has been remade more than once over the past 90 years. Audiences were first introduced to the franchise in 1932. In the original film, the great Boris Karloff played the role of Imhotep. The OG series consisted of six installments and spanned 23 years. The franchise was rebooted in 1959 — and starred Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.
However, it wasn’t until 1999 that the franchise truly came back to life. Directed by Stephen Sommers, 1999’s The Mummy was a truly terrific film. Brendan Fraser (Rick O’Connell), Rachel Weisz (Evelyn), John Hannah (Jonathan) and Arnold Vosloo (Imhotep) were magnificent in their roles. In 2017, Universal Studios rebooted the series yet again — with Tom Cruise as the lead.
Not all films on this list are remakes of American projects. Starring Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt and Madeleine Stowe, 1995’s 12 Monkeys is inspired by La Jetee — a French short film released 33 years earlier. Willis was at the top of his game in the mid-90s. The box office star had just seen his third Die Hard film leave theaters a few months prior. This sci-fi thriller is set in the future — a future that has seen the world devastated by disease. It is up to a convict named James Cole (Willis) to travel back in time to stop the virus from wiping out Earth’s population.
House on Haunted Hill
In the original House on Haunted Hill (1959) starring Vincent Price and Carol Ohmart, a millionaire offered five people $10,000 to be locked in a house with him and his wife overnight. In the remake 40 years later, the reward has been upped to $1 million per person for anyone who dares to stay in the haunted house overnight. While neither film is particularly great, the reboot gets a slight edge over the original. The cast — featuring Geoffrey Rush, Taye Diggs, Chris Kattan and Famke Janssen — and tone are an improvement over the OG. Rush’s performance is particularly stirring.
The Birdcage was a well-known story long before it hit American theaters in 1996. Originally a French play called La Cage aux Folles, the story was first adapted to the screen in 1978 by French director Edouard Molinaro. However, the tale reached new heights with its American reboot in ’96. Robin Williams plays the role of Armand Goldman — an openly gay man who owns a popular drag nightclub in Miami. Armand lives with his partner Albert (Nathan Lane), who also happens to be the club’s star. While we won’t get into spoilers, it is safe to say that this heartwarming comedy is an essential watch for any film fan.
Little Shop of Horrors
Like The Mummy, Little Shop of Horrors has been remade a few times. The first edition of the story was released in 1960. That Jonathan Haze starrer was a black comedy, and widely regarded as one of the funniest releases of the year. 22 years later, the film was adapted into an off-Broadway musical comedy of the same name. Well, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood came calling again — and in 1986 the musical was brought back to box offices. The story about a man and his man-eating plant was a hit as the star-studded film earned two Oscar nominations. There are rumors that another reboot could be on the way soon.
Before we get into the plot of this reboot, let us tell you a few of the names involved with the project. 1991’s Cape Fear was directed by Martin Scorsese. The critically acclaimed remake starred Robert De Niro, Jessica Lange, Juliette Lewis and Nick Nolte. Are you in? We certainly are. In the 1962 original, Gregory Peck plays Sam Bowden — a lawyer who helped send a rapist to jail years earlier, only for that convict to stalk Bowden and his family upon his release. In the ’91 reboot, Nolte plays the role of Bowden and De Niro plays Max Cady — the convicted rapist. De Niro was nominated for Best Actor, and Lewis was nominated for Best Supporting Actress.
Who doesn’t love a good vampire flick? Starring Colin Farrell, David Tennant, Toni Collette, Christopher Mintz-Plasse (McLovin) and the late Anton Yelchin, 2011’s Fright Night is a remake of Tom Holland’s 1985 film of the same name. In this vampire thriller, Charley (Yelchin) is suspicious that his new neighbor may be responsible for a handful of deaths in the community. Eventually, Charley deduces that his neighbor, Jerry (Ferrell), is an ancient vampire. Wanting to rid his hometown of the alleged vampire, Charley turns to a Las Vegas magician and self-proclaimed vampire killer (Tennant) for help.
Insomnia is another remake featuring a handful of heavy hitters. Directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank, this psychological thriller is a remake of a Norwegian film made five years earlier — in 1997. The film follows two Los Angeles homicide detectives — played by Pacino and Martin Donovan — as they investigate the murder of a young girl in Nightmute, Alaska. Full of mystery and a handful of twists, this whodunnit will have you on the edge of your seat from the opening shot until the final seconds.
Did you know The Fly starring Jeff Goldblum is a remake? The 1986 Goldblum starrer debuted 28 years after its predecessor. The original film — starring David Hedison, Patricia Owens and Vincent Price — was fantastic. As a result, some people were skeptical of rebooting such a successful movie. Alas, David Cronenberg directed a gem that arguably topped the original. Goldblum put forth a phenomenal performance, and the work done by the makeup team was simply unmatched. For their outstanding efforts, Chris Walas and Stephan Dupuis won the Oscar for Best Makeup.
The Magnificent Seven
The latest reboot of The Magnificent Seven debuted in 2016. However, one could even deem the 1960 version of the film a reboot. That’s right, the true ‘OG Magnificent Seven‘ isn’t John Sturges’ film. Sturges’ film was a West-style remake of the classic film Seven Samurai. In ’16, Antoine Fuqua brought the second reboot to life. In his telling of the story, seven hired guns are brought into a town that is on the brink of being overrun. While the film didn’t live up to the lofty standards of its predecessors, it did feature some of Hollywood’s biggest stars — including Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke.
The Parent Trap
“Identical twins Annie and Hallie, separated at birth and each raised by one of their biological parents, later discover each other for the first time at summer camp and make a plan to bring their wayward parents back together.”
In 1998, 37 years removed from the debut of The Parent Trap, a new and improved version was released. Lindsay Lohan starred as Annie and Hallie — delivering a great performance for a youngster and arguably the most iconic one of her career. The fun family film was boosted by the inclusion of Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson — who played the role of the twins’ mom and dad (who unbeknownst to them, the girls are aware of their big secret). The Parent Trap is a fun time for all.
The Jungle Book
Three years before he brought The Lion King back to theaters, Jon Favreau rebooted The Jungle Book. Favreau opted to remake the 1967 film but with a live-action/CGI twist. Favreau’s vision for the remake worked to perfection. The film honored the original, and at the same time took it to new heights in a few ways. The casting was terrific — with megastars such as Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Idris Elba, Christopher Walken, Lupita Nyong’o, and Scarlett Johansson lending their voices. Unsurprisingly, the beautifully created flick took home the 2017 Oscar for Best Achievement in Visual Effects.
The Wizard of Oz
In 1900, a man named L. Frank Baum released a children’s novel titled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. 39 years later, Judy Garland starred as Dorothy in one of the most important films of all-time. However, 1939’s The Wizard of Oz was technically a remake. In fact, there were multiple films released before the ’39 film revolutionized the industry. In addition to a silent film that debuted in 1925, both an animated film and a sequel to the ’25 film were released. Of course, Garland’s turn as Dorothy tops them all. There is no need to watch the films that came before Victor Fleming’s The Wizard of Oz.
When talking about remakes, it is only a matter of time before Godzilla is mentioned. One of film’s greatest monsters, Godzilla first appeared on screen in 1954. More than 40 years after the first movie, Toho was granted the rights to make an American film for the first time. There have been four Hollywood films made since 1998 — with the best coming in 2014. Compared to Godzilla’s debut in America in ’98, the ’14 reboot was far superior. Notable actors such as Brian Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Ken Watanabe accompanied the menacing monster. In terms of American Godzilla films, this one is tough to beat.
When it comes to Western films, one man stands head and shoulders above the rest — John Wayne. In 1969, Wayne starred in True Grit. Playing the role of Rooster Cogburn, Wayne won the Oscar for Best Actor. So, it is easy to see why people were a bit wary of the film being remade in 2010. Despite some skepticism, the Coen brothers directed a stellar film. The great Jeff Bridges played the role that Wayne mastered 40 years earlier and delivered a great performance of his own — earning an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Additionally, budding star Hailee Steinfeld was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. The 2010 version of True Grit was nominated for 10 Oscars overall — proving that rebooting the film was well worth the risk.
Before Pennywise returned to theaters in 2017, the terrifying Dancing Clown created endless sleepless nights for kids in the 1990s. In 1990, Tim Curry starred as Pennywise in a two-part mini-series. Curry’s rendition of Pennywise was certainly frightening, but the ’17 reboot offered a nightmare-inducing version of the monstrous clown. Bill Skarsgard gives a haunting performance as the Dancing Clown — a performance that will linger in your mind long after watching the film. Good luck sleeping well after seeing Pennywise’s ghoulish smile.
War of the Worlds
H. G. Wells’ 1898 novel The War of the Worlds has been adapted to both television and film a handful of times. In 1953, Byron Haskin directed The War of the Worlds. Haskin’s film was nominated for three Oscars — winning the Oscar for Best Effects, Special Effects. More than 50 years later, Tom Cruise stepped up to the plate and led Steven Spielberg’s alien epic. Also nominated for three Oscars, 2005’s War of the Worlds was well-received thanks in part to Cruise’s talented co-stars — including a young Dakota Fanning. It is safe to say that we will see Wells’ novel revisited many times in the future.
Whether you want to call it an adaptation or remake of Sylvester Stallone’s 1995 film Judge Dredd, we believe Pete Travis’ 2012 film, Dredd, is a reboot. Starring Karl Urban as Judge Dredd, this entry to the franchise is perhaps the best one yet. A huge upgrade over Stallone’s film, Dredd boasts spectacular special effects, mixes in a perfect amount of humor, and does justice to the source material (2000 AD comic strip). The violence in this film may be a bit too much for some people to stomach, but the film is a triumph overall.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Bring on the aliens. It seems clear at this point — Hollywood loves telling alien invasion stories, and it is not shy about rebooting old films over and over again. Two years after Jack Finney’s novel The Body Snatchers was released, in 1956, Invasion of the Body Snatchers was brought to the big screen. While that film was certainly good, we prefer the reboot — 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers starring Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, and Jeff Goldblum. While the story is well-known at this point, Sutherland and Co. delivered strong performances that are more than worthy of your time.
Did you know that The Thing has been remade twice? Most recently, in 2011, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Joel Edgerton starred in a retelling of the sci-fi horror. At the time of its release, many people were aware of the film it was rebooting — 1982’s The Thing. The ’82 film is widely regarded as one of the best horror flicks of all-time. Directed by John Carpenter and starring Kurt Russell, the film went from receiving negative reviews upon its release to earning its spot in history as a classic. But did you know that the ’82 film was also a remake? In 1951, a film titled The Thing from Another World terrorized audiences.
Daniel Craig is arguably the greatest James Bond of all-time, and an argument could be made that Casino Royale is his best entry to the franchise (along with Skyfall). Craig’s first appearance as 007 was electric and set the stage for a great set of films. However, some may be surprised to learn that the film is technically a remake. That’s right, the original Casino Royale was released in 1967. Instead of the serious tone established in Craig’s film, the ’67 edition was a spy parody — leave the spy comedy to Austin Powers.
Dawn of the Dead
The first edition of Dawn of the Dead (1978) is the gold standard, but Zack Snyder’s 2004 remake holds its own. Snyder did his best to live up to the standard director George A. Romero set nearly 30 years earlier. Snyder’s film has plenty of zombie violence and gore just like its predecessors, but where 04’s Dawn of the Dead shines is in its character development. Snyder does well in making the audience care about the survivors and their stories — something that is not always simple in apocalyptic films.
In Hollywood, there are a ton of recycled ideas. Whether films are remade after a few decades have passed, or an existing storyline is slightly tweaked to create a new release, it is not uncommon to see the same story told multiple times. When Martin Scorsese signed on to direct The Departed, he was unaware that the script was a remake of Internal Affairs (a thriller out of Hong Kong). Thankfully, Scorsese didn’t cut any corners while putting together his version of the story. For his efforts, The Departed became the first remake of an international film to win the Oscar for Best Picture. The film took home three additional Oscars — including Scorsese claiming the Oscar for Best Director.