Why are remakes worse than the origional?


Standard Member
I was reading a theatre review in the newspaper today (for reasons unknown to even myself!) for a production of Merchant of Venice. The review was pretty good but that's beside the point.

What suddenly struck me was the fact that any production of a play, is for all intents and purposes, the same as a remake of a film. Different cast/director/crew. Same material/script.

However, each production of a play is usually judged on its own merit and has no expectations placed upon it. People are quite happy to believe it will be as good or better than any performance that has gone before. And often it is.

With films though, it is taken for granted that they will be inferior to the original and with a few noteable exceptions ("the thing", "little shop of horrors" and "The Fly" spring to mind) they usually are:- Italian Job, Psycho, get carter, the vanishing etc, etc...

So why is it that it seems almost impossible to remake a film well, when the same thing is accomplished all the time with plays?

I mean, I here all the time "They shouldn't remake ....." or "It'll be crap, don't do it" when there is talk of a favourite movie being remade.

You don't here people saying "don't put on a production of Richard III, it'll never be as good as the one they did last year"

Anyone got any ideas why it works on stage but not on film?


I think most of that comes down to their motivations for doing the remake. For plays, it's usually down to a love of the source material. The same goes for some of the good film remakes.

But most often, I think producers do remakes just to cash in on the built-in fanbase, not for any love of the original. It's the same reason why so many sequels are produced these days. It's a much safer investment to rehash something that's already been done (successfully) before than to take a chance on something original. Don't get me started on Michael Bay remaking TCM just because he wanted to produce a movie with that cool title. :mad:

Also, I think plays work best live (as opposed to on TV or video). So you can't very well go out and see a live 1975 production of Hamlet anymore. Your only option is to see the new one, so fans are probably more forgiving. When I've got the DVD of "The Manchurian Candidate", and I can watch the original masterpiece whenever I want, why on earth would I want to watch some watered-down politically updated version done by some music video director?

But as long as bastardising classic films remains bankable, we'll see more and more of it. The only way to stop it is this: Don't watch them. If a film is remade, rent or buy the original, and never watch the remake. If your friends ask you about the remake, show them the original and tell them the remake sucks. (because it will) Together we can make a difference. :)


They also think they can make the remake better by having better special effects etc, and this may detract from the original story line.

Basically the story was great to start with, but they try to make it better with gloss most of the time this doesn't happen (The Time Machine).

I suppose with plays all productions have the same limitations on sets etc, so the content then comes down to the quality of the acting.


Well-known Member
Its an alternative to making a sequel
The remake of Oceans 11 is far superior to the original imo , not all remakes are worst just most.


Active Member
Originally posted by ferris57
Why are remakes worse than the original?

Like you pointed out: they're not all worse.

Like so many things these days, there's an absolutely massive proportion of people who will slag a film off (especially a remake) before they've even seen it, even if it's a remake in name only - this is down to (usually) some misplaced loyalty to all things original, and the lame assumption that "original = best".

I love the original Italian Job, and so does my mate, but he's said that the "remake" (cos it isn't really) is a pretty decent actioner in its own right - I've yet to see it. Maybe it shoulda been called something else, and then you wouldn't get the elitist, rose-tinted brigade panning it before it even got released.

When it comes to movies (and so much else in life) you're far better deciding for yourself whether it's "better" or "worse " or just "different" than the original rather than just assuming that it WILL be worse like so many people out there.

The Internet has a lot to answer for ;) as it's so easy to get swept away with negative vibes for stuff that are based on prejudice rather than informed opinion - I immediately stop reading anything about an unreleased film if it's written by someone who hasn't seen it in its entirety. Most pre-release guff is usually written on the back of the bandwagon that is currently most in vogue at the time.

As you pointed out: the "remakes" of The Fly and The Thing are truly outstanding pieces of work that brought the stories to life for a new generation, but I daresay, had the Internet been around at the time of their imminent releases, there'd have been a boatload of film "experts" slating them before they'd even hit the first cinema.

Make your own mind up, and listen to no-one....not even this post here :blush:


Distinguished Member

Remakes are just that, remakes. They are usually done to cash-in, and not for any serious or artistic purpose. Also, I think that when director's and playright's remake or re-envisage certain theatrical shows, they have to do it with certain criteria in mind, and to a certain standard as well. I think it's written into their contracts.

With film, anyone can remake a classic film, if they so wish, providing they have the money and patience to do it. (Or someone's dumb enough to bankroll it for them! :rotfl: )

Not all remakes are bad, although the vast majority are. But then, technically, isn't every single film, just a remake or re-envisaging of another film previously released?

Question for the group to discuss: is it possible now, in 2004, to still create and/or make a totally original film?



Juzminator, fair points. To be honest, I assume that all films will be awful, not just remakes. :) It used to be that I would go to see a movie unless I heard it was bad. Now that my time is at a premium, I don't go to see a movie unless I hear that it is really good.


Distinguished Member
Two words....

Italian Job :eek: :eek: :suicide:


Scarface, the later, Al Pacinised version, far superior to the original IMHO.

Remakes are often awful because those invovled in the project for the remake work from the original film, rather than script.

It's difficult to make something brilliant when you're working with only the original finished work of another as your initiative.


Standard Member
Juzminator, fair points. To be honest, I assume that all films will be awful, not just remakes.

I tend to be the opposite, I am constantly optimistic about all films and I get exited about remakes of movies all the time. The dawn of the dead remake is my number one can't wait movie of this year for example.

However, more and more these days I am disappointed. I made a huge list of my favourite films recently. Not a lot were from the last 10 years and even fewer were from the last 5 years. I don't enjoy films as much as I used to.

Pooch raises an interesting question
Question for the group to discuss: is it possible now, in 2004, to still create and/or make a totally original film?

I don't know, I doubt it. Certainly there hasn't been one for a while that I can think of. In fact I remember someone once saying of old black and white movies, that there isn't anything that hasn't been done before and been done better. Now I'm not sure I agree with that but maybe this is why I don't enjoy movies in general as much as I used to. Maybe I've seen it all before.

I mean I honestly can't remember the last time I watched a film and enjoyed it as much as I did as a kid watching jaws for the first time or the terminator. Perhaps the more films you watch, the higher it raises the bar. I wonder if at least part of the reason I think a certain film is better than it's modern day counterpart is because that was the one I saw first!

It's the same as revisiting a film you remember as being amazing when you were younger. It's never as good as you thought it was.


That's a very interesting point, and its relevance has more than a small amount in common with the current state of play in the increasingly drab musical industry - it's all been done before.

IMHO, the basic premise of the majority of modern films (i.e. the plot) is very rarely original. The movie industry is currently only being 'original' in implementation of technologies and styles, such as CGI and sound fields.

I think this is a shame. Production Companies are increasingly advertising movies as worth watching because they Look Good, have realistic CGI and tantalising effects. This is unusual, as I always thought characters and plot came first :confused:.

There are, IMHO, still some excellent original works being produced within the movie industry. But, at the same time, they're becoming increasingly difficult to find (on the whole, exceptions such as Mendes, Ang Lee and Tarantino spring to mind as examples of the opposite).

That said, some of my very favourite films have been made in rescent years (i.e. the past 20). And City Of God last year was most definitely an excellent find, as was Rabbit Proof Fence.


Standard Member
I really liked city of God as well and after putting off watching rabbit proof fence for ages thats just made me add another title to my free trial at screenselect :smashin:


Active Member
They ae remaking two classics.

The Manchurian Candiadate (set in Iraq!)

And the all time fav The Ladykillers, still for originallity you have Torque in the flicks at the moment.


Standard Member


Active Member
Thge bit about Torque was being a bit sarcy! Just a point about the sort Hollywood can offer at the moment. Oh yes The Stepford Wives is also being remade.

Kazuya Mishima

Active Member
I thought that many remakes seem inferior because once you have an image / picture of a film in your mind, another version seems "wrong" because it's not like the version in your head. Kind of like, when you read a book and you visualise characters, places, scenes and if you then view a film version of said book it often seems wrong.

I am sure that commercial rather than artistic reasons drive many remakes. Hence the reason they are crap.

WARNING : **Possible spoilers for those who have not seen "The Vanishing"** (although the title gives the game away)

The weirdest one in my mind right now is The Vanishing. I am a big fan of the original (Dutch film I believe), creepy as hell, this to me is true horror because it is so real and could happen at any time.

Now the other night I recorded the remake on Sky. I had never seen the remake (Jeff Bridges, Kiefer Sutherland) and was curious to see how it matched up. My first surprise was seeing the director's name - George Sluizer who directed the original. Oh, I thought, kind of like Robert Rodriguez and El Mariachi and Desperado (correct me if this is wrong!). The film appeared to be a fairly similar remake, but in English language using Hollywood actors. That was, up until the last 15 minutes.....

My goodness - there were knives, planks, shovels embedded in skulls, things on fire, people fighting and rolling around in mud (like when Peter Griffin in Family Guy fought the giant chicken...) - it was weird. And then there was your classic Hollywood ending (girl rescues good guy, good guy kills bad guy). I found myself rooting for this ending and enjoying the feelgood factor - then pinched myself and said NO! The horror, the impact, the theme of the film has gone!

AND ALL FROM THE ORIGINAL DIRECTOR! Why did he do it? Where was his artistic integrity?



Standard Member
It does work on film, just not all the time.

Oceans 11
The Thomas Crown Affair

Many films are based on earlier obscure films, it's only when it's a remake of something reasonably well known that it gains attention.

I agree the classics should not be interfered with.



I think the best potential remakes are those that are remakes of films with a great idea and poor execution, or films that could have been great, but ended up terrible for one reason or another. The original Oceans 11 is a great example. Cool idea, dreadful movie. Prime candidate for a successful remake. As bad as the remake is, Rollerball was also a decent remake choice. Although I really liked the original, it could have been so much better.

I think the problem comes when trying to remake films that are exceptionally good in their respective genres. (Psycho, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Manchurian Candidate, etc) In those cases, there's nowhere to go but down. I mean, what kind of egotism does it take to look at some of the greatest films ever made and say, "I could have done that better"?

And as others have mentioned, Hollywood loves to remake great foreign low-budget films into Hollywoodised versions. Me, I like cinema no matter how much it cost to make. I don't need name-recognition actors to enjoy a film; in fact it often detracts from the experience. A great film is a great film, and isn't necessarily made better by inserting Mark Wahlberg into it.

I agree that you'll never get a completely original film, because the art of storytelling has been with us for a very long time. But some very original films have come out in the past few years. (Memento, Donnie Darko, Bubba Ho-Tep ;), etc) Just because 99% of all films have one of the 6 recycled Hollywood plots, doesn't mean there aren't a few gems being produced every now and then.

Forgive the rambling. Blame it on the Guinness. :D


Standard Member
I think the best potential remakes are those that are remakes of films with a great idea and poor execution, or films that could have been great, but ended up terrible for one reason or another.

I meant to post this exact point yesterday! there have been so many films over the years that I have thought had an excellent concept but were crap. Of course this means studios are far less likely to do a remake becuase they take the view, if it did poorly at the box office before it will do the same again.

It's funny to think that out of the films you mention (Memento, Donnie Darko, Bubba Ho-Tep ) all of which I agree are actually origional. I would bet the majority of the country haven't heard of memento or bubba ho-tep and bubba ho-tep has stuggled for so long to get a distributor.

Studios don't like original. They like tried and tested, formulaic, mass appeal tripe :( And when they do take a chance they refuse to put the same marketing weight behind these films to actually get them seen. Instead the slip them out under the cover of night, with minimal advertising, usually pitched wrongly, and then whip them out of the cinemas within the first few weeks when surprise surprise no one goes to see them.


Read about Bubba Ho-Tep in my Fangoria magazine, the director actually personally went all over america visiting cinemas with Bruce Campbell and basically giving it the real personal touch.

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