15 Movie Remakes That Totally Flopped
If it ain't broke, don't remake it.
While it's tempting to say that Hollywood shouldn't mess with a good thing, there have been plenty of remakes that proved wildly successful, delighting both critics and audiences, and making bank at the box office, like 2017's Beauty and the Beast and 2001's Ocean's Eleven. However, then there are the bad movie remakes, the ones that make us want to lock all of the classics up in a vault so they can never be messed with, a la 2004's Stepford Wives and 2016's Ben-Hur. But it hardly stops there. If the following 15 movie remakes haven't been forgotten entirely, it's only because they're remembered for being total bombs.
The Mummy (2017)
Universal's original Mummy franchise from the 1930s, '40s, and '50s had already gotten a successful reboot with 1999's The Mummy (starring Brendan Fraser) and its two sequels. However, in 2017, the studio decided to dust it off for yet another remake. Sadly, though, even the star power of Tom Cruise—with an assist from Russell Crowe as Dr. Jekyll—couldn't spare them an estimated $95 million loss, and the Dark Universe was declared DOA.
Total Recall (2012)
Paul Verhoeven's original 1990 Total Recall was one of the most expensive movies of its time, but the special effects have not aged well at all. After all, technology's come a long way in the decades since, which certainly gave Len Wiseman's 2012 remake a leg-up. But even superior special effects—and Colin Farrell's commitment to his performance as Douglas Quaid—couldn't save the film from its weak script and humorless tone. So much for that sequel.
Let Me In (2010)
There was no compelling reason to remake the 2008 Swedish language horror film Let the Right One In, except to appeal to viewers who don't like subtitles. And though Matt Reeves' English-language film actually earned positive reviews for young stars Kodi Smit-McPhee and Chloë Grace Moretz, the offbeat vampire romance ultimately failed to find its audience. Earning $12.1 million domestically, Let Me In ended up being one of the lowest grossing films from a major studio in 2010.
Famously ambitious director Timur Bekmambetov must have thought audiences were ready for the return of the classic biblical epic when he remade 1959's Ben-Hur, but he was sadly mistaken. Critics were not kind to the lengthy remake, which got knocked for its bad CGI, and the film's dreadful box office performance was a major loss for MGM.
Ronald Neame's 1972 film The Poseidon Adventure may not have been a classic, but it was certainly a memorable entry in the disaster movie genre—and thusly, an easy contender for a modern update.
However, while Wolfgang Petersen's 2006 remake did take advantage of contemporary technology, even earning an Oscar nomination for its visual effects, its lacking script ultimately made it a major flop at the box office. Though Warner Bros. sank $160 million into the remake, they only made $20.3 million in domestic sales during the film's opening weekend. Oof.
Tomb Raider (2018)
Angelina Jolie is so closely associated with the title role of Lara Croft from the early 2000s movies that it's hard to imagine anyone else taking it on. Nevertheless, Alicia Vikander did her best in Roar Uthaug's 2018 reboot of the franchise—and though she herself earned mostly positive reviews for her portrayal, the film as a whole fell flat. Despite a relatively disappointing box office performance, however, Tomb Raider is getting a sequel in 2021.
The Wicker Man (2006)
Nicolas Cage, an incompetent script, and a whole lot of bees made this 2006 remake a laughable train wreck. Critics were certainly not impressed by Neil LaBute's take on the 1973 British horror film from director Robin Hardy, but no one hated it more than audiences, who gave the movie a rare F rating. With so much negative buzz surrounding it, it's no surprise that The Wicker Man flopped at the box office, not even earning enough to offset its $40 million budget.
The Thing (2011)
Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.'s The Thing was meant to be a prequel to John Carpenter's 1982 film of the same name, itself a remake of the 1951 film The Thing From Another World. But in actuality, the 2011 Thing is close enough to its predecessor in plot to have earned the remake label—if you can look past the poor quality and script, that is. Critics were mostly unkind the updated Thing, which eventually managed to eke out just over $27 million worldwide, still less than its $38 million budget.
How do you remake an underappreciated cult classic? Well, that's up for debate, but John McTiernan's disastrous take on Rollerball is at least a strong example of what not to do. While Norman Jewison's dystopian 1975 film balanced thrills with satire and social commentary, the remake dumbed things down and made it all about the title sport. The result is a movie that has found itself on countless lists of the most expensive box office flops of all time: Though it had a $70 million budget, Rollerball took in only $25.8 million worldwide.
The Wolfman (2010)
Years before The Mummy tanked Universal's Dark Universe, the studio tried (and failed) to remake another Universal Classic Monsters property: 1941's The Wolfman. Director Joe Johnston clearly had high ambitions, and the impressive cast—including Benicio del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, and Emily Blunt—did what they could. Nevertheless, the movie was so bad that even the head of Universal called it one of the worst films the studio ever made. And because it cost a staggering $150 million, its $140 worldwide gross made it a rather costly flop, too.
Point Break (2015)
Though there are plenty of impressive shots in the Ericson Core Point Break remake, it lacks the charisma that made the Kathryn Bigelow 1991 original so beloved. Flashy stunts and big waves were just no match for what Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze brought to the original, as critics were eager to point out. The silver lining? Although the new Point Break was a box office disappointment domestically, it earned enough worldwide to avoid becoming a complete financial disaster.
Conan the Barbarian (2011)
Technically speaking, Marcus Nispel's film isn't a remake so much as a new take on the character from Robert E. Howard's pulp fiction novels. But really, you can't make a Conan the Barbarian movie without drawing comparisons to the 1982 movie that helped make Arnold Schwarzenegger a household name.
This Conan stars Jason Momoa, who had already made a name for himself prior to the film via Game of Thrones. However, even his star power couldn't compensate for a weak script. The film cost $90 million to make and earned only $48.8 million worldwide. Yikes.
Spike Lee's adaptation of the 2003 South Korean classic came and went with so little fanfare that it's easy to forget that it was ever in theaters. However, the 2013 Oldboy did get a wide release—and while critics praised the movie for its style and performances (specifically, Josh Brolin's), even they pondered why it needed to exist at all. As for audiences, they mostly didn't see it. The film has the distinction of having one of the weakest Thanksgiving weekend openings ever.
The Stepford Wives (2004)
For the remake of this 1975 cult classic, director Frank Oz and screenwriter Paul Rudnick brought a lot of humor—or at least, they tried to. The new Stepford Wives has its moments, but without the sharp satire of the original, audiences just didn't care. Although it almost brought in the $100 million spent to make it, that still didn't account for the additional $46 million spent on promotion. It has since been disowned by Oz, who said he didn't follow his own instincts, as well as star Matthew Broderick.
As much of a failure as this remake was, you can certainly give Gus Van Sant credit for his ambition. For his take on the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock classic, the director decided to do a shot-for-shot remake, recreating the vast majority of the original Psycho with only slight tweaks. The changes he did make were not well-received, and both critics and audiences were baffled by the whole experiment. Why watch a bland carbon copy when you could just rewatch the real thing? Van Sant claims producers broke even, but the box office numbers suggest otherwise. And for more cinematic disasters, we give you The Movies on Rotten Tomatoes with the Lowest Ratings.
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