20 Popular Movies You Didn’t Realize Were Remakes

Movies You Didn't Know Were Remakes

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I Am Legend

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Hollywood has always been about finding new ideas to fill theater seats. Still, filmmakers have never been shy about re-examining a good film with an eye on making it better. So, in a year where four of the Best Picture Academy Award nominees were remakes (and one of them won the Oscar), it seems like a good time to explore a few popular films you might be surprised weren't original ideas.

Related: The Best (and Worst) Movie Remakes of All Time

The Wizard Of Oz

‘The Wizard of Oz’ (1939)

Original: “The Wizard of Oz” (1925)

Despite its iconic status, most people don’t know that the Judy Garland version of L. Frank Baum’s book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” was a remake. The original was a black-and-white silent film adapted by one of Baum’s sons with Oliver Hardy in the cast. Dorothy’s silver slippers turned ruby red for the Technicolor version.

Related: Iconic Movie Props That Went Missing

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

‘The Maltese Falcon’ (1941)

Originals: “The Maltese Falcon”’ (1931) and “Satan Met a Lady” (1936)

Others tried to do Dashiell Hammett’s 1930 hardboiled detective novel justice on the silver screen but it took director John Huston and Humphry Bogart to really bring Sam Spade to life in their 1941 Oscar-nominated version. Bette Davis and Arthur Treacher starred in the 1936 version that kept the basic plot but changed the names.

Related: 15 Movie Remakes That Were Better Than the Originals

Some Like it Hot (1959)

‘Some Like It Hot’ (1959)

Originals: “Fanfare d'Amour (Fanfare of Love)”’ (1935) and “Fanfaren der Liebe” (1951)

Before Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis dressed as women to join an all-female band in Billy Wilder’s classic, others had done the same in French and German versions of the story. Screenwriter Robert Thoeren seems to be the thread that ties these films together with a writing credit on all three versions. Wilder’s film was nominated for six Oscars including best actor (Lemmon) and director. It also featured Marilyn Monroe, which probably didn’t hurt its appeal.

The Magnificent Seven

‘The Magnificent Seven’ (1960)

Original: “Shichinin no samurai (Seven Samurai)” (1954)

Akira Kurosawa’s tale of seven warriors who help defend a village against bandits is a classic in its own right. The Americanized version — with Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, and Eli Wallach — is generally regarded as among the best Westerns ever made. A subsequent version featuring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, and Vincent D’Onofrio was released in 2016.

Related: 30 Greatest Western Movies Ever Made, According to Critics


‘Scarface’ (1981)

Original: “Scarface” (1932)

The original “Scarface” focused on bootlegging with Paul Muni playing an up-and-coming gangster loosely based on Al Capone. The Los Angeles Times called it “one of the best of the early gangster movies.” The Al Pacino version updated the substance of choice to cocaine while keeping the basic plot points and amping up the violence.

The Money Pit

‘The Money Pit’ (1986)

Original: “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” (1948)

The story of a young couple (Tom Hanks and Shelley Long) who move into a house that’s literally collapsing around them is an updated version of the Cary Grant-Myrna Loy film about a couple who build a getaway in Connecticut (from a popular novel by Eric Hodgins).

Down and Out in Beverly Hills

‘Down and Out in Beverly Hills’ (1986)

Original: “Boudu sauvé des eaux (Boudu Saved from Drowning)” (1932)

Director Paul Mazursky adapted the 1932 Jean Renoir satire about the rescue of a tramp who tries to drown himself, flipping the setting from Paris’ River Seine to a Beverly Hills swimming pool. Nick Nolte, Bette Midler, and Richard Dreyfuss star in this comedy that tweeks the nose of the nouveau riche and picked up Golden Globe nominations for best picture and actress (Midler).

Three Men and a Baby

‘Three Men and a Baby’ (1987)

Original: “Three Men and a Cradle (Trois hommes et un couffin)” (1985)

After directing two “Star Trek” movies, Leonard Nimoy took on this Americanization of a French original, casting Tom Selleck, Steve Guttenberg, and Ted Danson as roommates left to ponder which one’s former flame left a baby on their doorstep. The original was a hit in France, winning three César Awards, including best film. It also earned an Oscar nomination for best foreign language film. 

Scent of a Woman

‘Scent of a Woman’ (1992)

Original: “Profuma di donna”’ (1974)

The original Italian film is about a young soldier who accompanies a blind captain on a trip. The remake retains the essence of that plot, but the blind soldier (Al Pacino) is retired and accompanied by a student from a poor family (Chris O’Donnell). The remake was nominated for four Oscars including Best Picture and director. Pacino took home a Best Actor award.

12 Monkeys

‘12 Monkeys’ (1996)

Original: “La Jetée” (1962)

Terry Gilliam’s dystopian science-fiction thriller starring Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, and Brad Pitt was inspired by a 28-minute, black-and-white French film about a man forced to time travel. The short centered on a post-World War III world while Gilliam’s took place after a plague had ravaged the planet. Pitt was nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actor.

‘Titanic’ (1997)

‘Titanic’ (1997)

Originals: “Titanic” (1953) and “A Night to Remember” (1958)

The sinking of the Titanic was the subject of several films, including 1953’s “Titanic” with Clifton Webb, Barbara Stanwyck, and Robert Wagner, which won an Oscar for best screenplay. The original movies had largely faded into obscurity by the time James Cameron made his megablockbuster. Special effects advances and real-world discoveries made when the wreck was found in 1985 gave Cameron a big edge over earlier filmmakers.

You’ve Got Mail

‘You’ve Got Mail’ (1998)

Originals: “The Shop Around the Corner” ’(1940) and “In the Good Old Summertime” (1949)

In the original (with James Stewart and Margaret Suliivan) and the first remake (with Judy Garland and Van Johnson), co-workers who don’t get along in person find themselves in an anonymous romance with each other via the mail. The popular Nora Ephron film with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan used email to achieve the same end. All are based on Miklós László’s 1937 play “Parfumerie.”

Good: “The Talented Mr. Ripley”

‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’ (1999)

Original: “Plein Soleil (Purple Noon)” (1960)

Patricia Highsmith’s 1955 novel “The Talented Mr. Ripley” was adapted for the screen in the 1960 French film “Purple Noon,” but audiences know it better from the 1999 hit featuring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Cate Blanchett, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. It was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Law in a supporting role.

The Mummy

‘The Mummy’ (1999)

Original: ‘The Mummy’ (1932)

Suffice it to say that the Brendan Fraser/Rachel Weisz remake benefited from superior special effects over Boris Karloff’s lumbering original. It wasn’t the first remake of this story (Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee added Technicolor to a British version in 1959) nor the last (Tom Cruise starred in the 2017 reboot), but it led to two sequels (“The Mummy Returns” 2001 and “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” in 2008) as well as a $60 million roller coaster at Universal Studios.

Meet the Parents

‘Meet the Parents’ (2000)

Original: “Meet the Parents” (1992)

Before Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro made it a franchise, a low-budget version of this film debuted in 1992 with comedian Emo Phillips attached as an executive producer. The very dark comedy was “clearly not for mainstream audiences,” Variety said, but “could garner a cult following among anti-establishment urbanites.” It got a second chance — and a rewrite — before Universal and Dreamworks released the now-famous version in 2000.

Vanilla Sky

‘Vanilla Sky’ (2001)

Original: “Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes)”’ (1997)

Cameron Crowe adapted the screenplay and directed this star-studded film led by Tom Cruise. It took its story (and one star) from an award-winning Spanish movie. In an interview, producer Paula Wagner said the film “is equivalent of doing a cover of a great song.” Penélope Cruz plays the same role in both movies.

The Departed

‘The Departed’ (2006)

Original: “Mou gaan dou (Infernal Affairs)” (2002)

The plot of Martin Scorsese’s star-studded film (featuring Leonard DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, and Alec Baldwin) was patterned after a slick 2002 Hong Kong police drama, earning four Oscars including Best Picture and Scorsese’s first win for directing. 

Casino Royale (2006)

‘Casino Royale’ (2006)

Original: “Casino Royale” (1967)

These two films from the same source material (Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel) couldn’t be more different. The David Niven/Peter Sellers original is loosely based on the book but exists mainly to spoof the popular Sean Connery franchise. The second marks Daniel Craig’s first turn as 007 in a reboot of the series. “Fleming would recognize him as most like his literary creation: damaged goods in a tailored tux,” the Village Voice said of Craig’s version.

I Am Legend

‘I Am Legend’ (2007)

Originals: “The Last Man on Earth” (1964) and “The Omega Man” (1971)

Richard Matheson’s novel “I Am Legend” has been adapted three times, with the hero played by Vincent Price, Charlton Heston, and Will Smith. Each is similar, with the main character forced to battle some form of bloodthirsty mutants after a plague ravages the earth.


‘CODA’ (2021)

Original: “La Famille Bélier (The Bélier Family)” 2014

The original film — about the daughter of deaf parents who develops a love of music — was recognized with six nominations in France’s César Awards, including one for best film. It took home three Oscars including Best Picture, supporting actor (Troy Kotsur), and adapted screenplay, at the 2022 Academy Awards. It also became the first movie produced by a streaming service (Apple+) to win Best Picture.

Related: Every Best Picture Oscar Winner, Ranked by Critics