100 years of movie remakes

Is Hollywood all out of ideas?

It seems as though every day there’s a new remake being announced in Hollywood, which has led some people to claim that moviemakers are becoming lazier, looking for easy fixes, rather than coming up with original stories. But is this really the case?

To find out, we analysed over 100 years of movie remakes. Looking at a whopping 1,438 films, stretching all the way back to 1902, we set out to uncover the truth behind Hollywood’s long-standing relationship with remakes.

Here’s what we found.

Is Hollywood running out of ideas? To find out, we analysed over 100 years of movie remakes, looking at a whopping 1,438 films, stretching all the way back to 1902.

Explore the full list of movies below and see if your favourite is an original or a remake.

Which movie has been remade the most?

Taking the top spot as the most remade movie of the last century is Scrooge, the festive favourite based on Charles Dickens’ novella, A Christmas Carol. Following the 1935 original, which starred Seymour Hicks as Ebenezer Scrooge, there have been 7 remakes, with the most recent being released in 2009 starring Jim Carrey.

  • 1935

    Seymour Hicks

    Scrooge

  • 1938

    Reginald Owen

    A Christmas Carol

  • 1951

    Alastair Sim

    Scrooge

  • 1970

    Albert Finney

    Scrooge

  • 1984

    George C. Scott

    A Christmas Carol

  • 1992

    Michael Caine

    The Muppet Christmas Carol

  • 1999

    Patrick Stewart

    A Christmas Carol

  • 2009

    Jim Carrey

    A Christmas Carol

What other movies have been remade multiple times?

But it’s not just Scrooge that inspired a large number of remakes. There were 13 films in our list which have been remade 5 times, including Brewster’s Millions, Jungle Book and Oliver Twist.

  • Brewster’s Millions

  • Robin Hood

  • Great Expectations

  • Huckleberry Finn

  • Jane Eyre

  • Jungle Book

  • Oliver Twist

  • Don

  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame

  • The Three Godfathers

  • The Three Musketeers

  • Tom Sawyer

  • Treasure Island

Explore the full list of movies below and see if your favourite is an original or a remake.

  • Original movie (click to see the remakes)

  • Release date

  • Director

  • No. of remakes

  • IMDB score

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How long are we waiting before remaking movies?

According to our analysis, the average time between an original film and its first remake is 23 years, with this gap becoming shorter with each subsequent remake.

The movie with the longest time between remakes was The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, with the original coming out in 1920 and the remake coming out in 2005, 85 years later. Following closely behind is Dumbo, with 78 years between the 1941 original and 2019 remake due out later this year. But it’s not all long waits.

There were 21 films in our list which were remade within just a year of the original – most of these were regional adaptations of foreign titles.

Despite what some people may believe, Hollywood is not currently at its peak when it comes to remakes. The noughties was the decade which saw the most remakes, with a total of 189 – that’s an average of 19 per year. Digging even deeper, 2005 came out on top overall, with an incredible 33 remakes being released that year, closely followed by 2004 with 30.

Looking at genres, dramas proved to be the most popular when it comes to remakes, followed by comedy, romance and horror.

Original vs Remake: The Showdown

On the whole, remakes tend to be viewed as worse than the original film. Looking at IMDb ratings, the remakes in our analysis received a score of 1.85 lower on average than their predecessor. However, this isn’t always the case.

The highest rated remakes in our list were the 1957 version of Twelve Angry Men and the 1983 remake of The Hasty Heart, both of which earned a score of 8.9.

Reefer Madness saw the biggest rating increase, with the 2005 musical-comedy remake earning an IMDb score of 7.1, while the 1936 original only managed a score of 3.7.

The Upside starring Bryan Cranston, Nicole Kidman and Kevin Hart

At the other end of the scale, 2019’s The Upside, which stars Bryan Cranston, Kevin Hart and Nicole Kidman, takes the crown as the worst remake of the last century. The 2011 French original, The Intouchables, earned an impressive score of 8.5, being nominated for a BAFTA, a Golden Globe and a number of other international awards. The American remake didn’t have quite the same success, being panned by critics, receiving a score of just 3.6 on IMDb.

What do we mean by remake?

For this research, we only focussed on movie remakes, not reboots. While at first these two terms may sound interchangeable, there’s a key difference. A remake is when the basic story remains the same, just with a new cast, crew and other minor changes. For example, while each re-telling of Scrooge has featured different actors, the basic story has not changed.

Reboots, however, can be a totally different story, a complete reimagining of the original source material. Comic book adaptations, like Spiderman, would fall under this definition. While each new release is based on the same comic book character, the stories are noticeably different.