Check out a list of the most profitable films of the past decade and it becomes quite obvious that people want more of the same. This is how Hollywood has become an industry of remakes, reboots, re-imaginings and rip-offs. Most Hollywood players have gotten in on the trend, but some more so than others. Here are 15 producers, actors, and directors who embraced the remake/reboot movement early and often.
While you could argue his take on Batman (1989) was a re-do, Tim Burton officially got bit by the remake bug back in 1998 with Planet of the Apes, a film that made gobs of money but received a mixed reception from audiences and critics (hence the Rise of the Planet of the Apes reboot in 2011). Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) and Disney’s Alice In Wonderland (2010) followed and made similar waves. Most recently, Burton remade the cult horror soap opera Dark Shadows as a feature length film. Among other projects the director currently has slated is a proposed stop motion animation re-imagining of The Addams Family.
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French director Alexandre Aja hit it big in 2003 with High Tension, a French slasher film that managed to get a nationwide release in American theaters. Hailed as the new king of horror, Aja took the opportunity to direct and produce whatever high-concept property he came across. Starting with The Hills Have Eyes (2006), almost all of Aja’s Hollywood directing efforts have been remakes. From Mirrors (2008) to Piranha 3D (2010), Aja is one of the few horror directors whose remakes are both financially and critically successful. Though his next film will be an adaption of Joe Hill’s novel Horns, he has produced and co-written a remake of the 1980 slasher film Maniac. The film stars Elijah Wood and will likely be released sometime next year.
S.W.A.T. (2003), Miami Vice (2006), Fright Night (2011)—Irish actor Colin Farrell’s C.V. is a veritable landscape of high concept re-dos. Most recently the actor attempted to fill the shoes of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the latest version of Total Recall. Audiences weren’t buying the replacement and the film underperformed domestically.
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With the Transformers series, Michael Bay re-did a popular 1980s cartoon and made billions worldwide. Many audiences might not know Bay is also the co-owner of Platinum Dunes, a production company known for producing remakes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), The Amityville Horror (2005), The Hitcher (2007), Friday the 13th (2009), and A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010). What's up next on the studio’s chopping block? Remakes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), Halloween (TBA), and The Monster Squad (TBA).
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
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Mary Elizabeth Winstead has found herself in enough remakes that she deserves a special note here. The actress began her descent into the trend with the The Ring Two (2005). She continued with Black X-Mas the same year. Most recently she capped off her trilogy of remakes by starring in The Thing (2011), a “pre-make” to John Carpenter’s own 1982 remake of The Thing From Another World (1951). If your head is spinning trying to digest all that, it’s okay— audiences had the same reaction and The Thing (2011) bombed accordingly.
The Weinstein Company
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Following their departure from Miramax, The Weinstein Company (co-run by Harvey Weinstein, pictured above) jumped on the remake train. Among the production company’s past remakes are Pulse (2006), School For Scoundrels (2006), Black X-Mas (2006), Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007), and Piranha 3D (2010). Among the remakes currently being developed at the company are Hellraiser (TBA) and Short Circuit (TBA).
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The director of the original Halloween (1978) is among the first mainstream directors to embrace big budget remakes. His first film, Assault On Precinct 13 (1976) is a loose science fiction take on the classic Howard Hawks western Rio Bravo (1959). Six years later came The Thing (1982), which is considered among the best examples of how a remake can work. Unfortunately, Carpenter’s later film Village of the Damned (1995) stands as an example of how a remake can be bound for failure. As his career slowed down in the late 90s, the Master of Horror would resort to several instances of self-plagiarizing with Escape From L.A. (a 1996 remake of Escape From New York masquerading as a sequel) and Ghosts of Mars (2001’s virtual remake of Assault on Precinct 13). The director has also been unabashed about cashing in on his own original films, having produced The Fog (2005) to disastrous results.
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Of his six feature films, half of director Marcus Nispel’s filmography is made up of remakes. He began his career with the audience approved Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003). Six years later he returned to remakes with Friday the 13th (2009). The success of that film got him a gig directing Conan The Barbarian (2011), a new version of the fantasy character made popular by the 1982 Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle of the same name. Said reboot wouldn’t take with audiences or critics and Schwarzenegger has since announced he will be ignoring it to pursue a sequel to his version entitled The Legend of Conan.
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Aside from John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper can also be counted among the mainstream directors who legitimized remakes back in the 1980s. His re-imagining of the 1950s science fiction film Invaders From Mars (1986) would be a big budget box office disaster. Nevertheless, the director experienced a career resurgence in the aughts after remaking another cult horror film, The Toolbox Murders (2004). Ironically it was a remake of a movie that cashed in on the popularity of Hooper’s seminal classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). Never being one to pass up a check, Hooper attached himself to produce the 2003 remake and its sequel. Though Chainsaw figurehead hasn’t been attached to the upcoming reboot/sequel Texas Chainsaw 3D, he has been a vocal supporter of the project, offering blurbs of praise for the film that suggest he’s still cashing Chainsaw checks to this day.
The Expendables 2 director Simon West has a fair share of remakes under his belt. The director took a detour from action films to a direct the horror re-imagining When A Stranger Calls (2006). He later returned the action genre with The Mechanic (2011), a remake of the Charles Bronson film with Jason Statham in the lead. According to the Internet Movie Database he will next be producing such reboots as Night of the Living Dead: Origins 3D (2013) and will direct the newest version of the espionage series The Saint (TBA).
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Academy Award honored producer Roger Corman has always been good about turning a profit and (hopefully) making a good flick in the process. As such, Corman has produced a number of schlocky remakes of his own movies. He began this process in the mid-90s, remaking such titles A Bucket of Blood (1995), Piranha (1995), and Humanoids From The Deep (1996). In the early aughts the director helped produce the bigger budgeted Hollywood remake Death Race (2008), which starred Jason Statham. Most recently the 86-year-old producer announced he would be remaking eight of his classic Edgar Allen Poe adaptations on multimillion dollar budgets.
Glen Morgan & James Wong
This duo have written, produced, and directed multiple entries in The Final Destination series. They’re also the guys behind horror remakes like Black X-Mas (2005) and Willard (2003). In 2011 Wong would break from his partner and the horror genre to remake the popular Japanese manga Dragon Ball into the poorly received Dragon Ball: Evolution.
Spider-Man director Sam Raimi has had the foresight to avoid directing remakes. However, he has found big business in producing them. Among Raimi’s contributions to the redo subgenre are The Grudge (2004), its subsequent sequels, and the upcoming The Evil Dead (2013). Strangely enough, Raimi will soon be producing a remake of Poltergeist (TBA), a film concept originally conceived by a powerhouse filmmaker in discussion after the jump.
Steven Spielberg had a brief flirtation with remakes in 1983 when he produced and co-directed the big screen remake of The Twilight Zone. The film’s failure would not deter him from making Always in 1989, which remade the 1943 melodrama A Guy Named Joe. To Spielberg's disappointment, the saccharine throwback flopped with audiences and critics alike. Since then he has mostly steered clear of directing remakes, instead opting to produce several. Among remakes produced under Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment are The Money Pit (1986), Cape Fear (1991), The Legend of Zorro (2005) and True Grit (2010).
Nicolas Winding Refn
Nicolas Winding Refn exploded last year following the success of his independently produced crime noir film Drive. Fans of that film may not know that the director also helped produce a British remake of his Danish mafia film Pusher a year before that. After the success of Drive, Refn has signed on to direct, produce, and write a number of remakes including Logan’s Run (TBA), Maniac Cop (TBA), and The Equalizer (2014).