Special Report

20 Movies They Just Can’t Stop Remaking

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The movie business has been accused, not without some justification, of being lacking in imagination. Sure, plenty of groundbreaking original films have been released over the years. Consider such cinematic game-changers as “Fantasia,” “Citizen Kane,” “Koyaanisqatsi,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and “Memento,” among many others.

But so much of what gets produced these days is blatantly derivative: Sometimes it seems as if no old TV show or comic book franchise is safe from movie-makers, and that there’s no hit film that doesn’t deserve a sequel or two or maybe quite a few more. There have been at least eight follow-ups to the 2004 horror classic “Saw,” for instance, with another one on the way. (These are the best movie sequels you can stream right now.)

Then there are remakes — either new versions of original films (like “A Star is Born”) or fresh adaptations of classic novels, like “The Great Gatsby,” “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” “Great Expectations,” or “Treasure Island.” Certain stories just seem to appeal so strongly to movie-makers of various generations that they get cloned (usually with considerable variation) again and again. 

Click here to see 20 movies they just can’t stop remaking

24/7 Tempo has assembled a list of 20 of the most remade films of all time. It excludes foreign-language films, TV movies, sequels, and spin-offs that spiral off too far from the original. Musical adaptations and animated versions are included. In some cases, there’s little argument about which version would be considered definitive (the 1931 “Dracula,” starring Bela Lugosi, for instance). In other cases, the matter is open to debate, but the choices noted below have all gained considerable critical acclaim.

If your tastes don’t run to remakes, you won’t find any in this selection of the best classic movies that are now available for streaming.

Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

A Christmas Carol
> Years released: 1902-2018 (about 28 live and animated versions)
> Alternate title(s) “Scrooge,” “The Muppet Christmas Carol,” etc.
> Definitive version: 1951 (“Scrooge”), starring Alistair Sim


Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The Phantom of the Opera
> Years released: 1925, 1943, 1962, 1988 (animated), 1989, 1991, 2004 (musical adaptation)
> Alternate title(s) Phantom of the Opera
> Definitive version: 1943, starring Claude Rains

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
> Years released: 1917, 1930, 1938, 1973 (musical adaptation), 1995, 2014
> Alternate title(s) Tom Sawyer, Tom and Huck, tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn
> Definitive version: 1938, starring Tommy Kelly

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Little Orphan Annie
> Years released: 1918, 1932, 1938, 1982, 1999, 2014 (musical adaptation)
> Alternate title(s) Little Orphant Annie, Annie
> Definitive version: 1982, starring Albert Finney and Carol Burnett


Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

> Years released: 1921-2020 (at least 10 straightforward productions plus parodies, X-rated films, etc.)
> Alternate title(s) Nosferatu
> Definitive version: 1931, starring Bela Lugosi

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The Great Gatsby
> Years released: 1913, 1926, 1949, 1974, 2013
> Alternate title(s) None
> Definitive version: 1974, starring Roberd Redford and Mia Farrow


Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Brewster’s Millions
> Years released: 1914, 1921, 1926, 1935, 1945, 1961, 1985, plus six foreign-language adaptations
> Alternate title(s) Miss Brewster’s Millions, Three on a Spree
> Definitive version: 1985, starring Richard Pryor and John Candy

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Distribution Company

Robin Hood
> Years released: 1922-2018 (at least 13 versions)
> Alternate title(s) The Adventures of Robin Hood, Tales of Robin Hood, Robin and Marian, etc.
> Definitive version: 1938, starring Errol Flynn

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Great Expectations
> Years released: 1917, 1934, 1946, 1998, 2012
> Alternate title(s) None
> Definitive version: 1946, starring John Mills, Alec Guinness, and Jean Simmons


Source: Courtesy of MPI Home Video

The Hound of the Baskervilles
> Years released: 1921, 1932, 1939, 1959, 1972
> Alternate title(s) None
> Definitive version: 1939, starring Basil Rathbone

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

The Hunchback of Notre Dame
> Years released: 1911, 1923, 1939, 1956, 1986, 1996 (animated)
> Alternate title(s) None
> Definitive version: 1939, starring Charles Laughton


Source: Courtesy of Focus Features

Jane Eyre
> Years released: 1910-2011 (12 versions)
> Alternate title(s) Woman and Wife
> Definitive version: 1943, starring Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine

Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
> Years released: 1931, 1939, 1960, 1974 (musical adaptation), 1993
> Alternate title(s) Huckleberry Finn
> Definitive version: 1931, starring Jackie Coogan

Source: Courtesy of TriStar Pictures

Oliver Twist
> Years released: 1909-2021 (14 versions, including 2 animated films and a musical)
> Alternate title(s) Oliver!, Twist
> Definitive version: 1948, starring Alec Guinness


Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

The Three Musketeers
> Years released: 1911-2011 ( at least 9 versions)
> Alternate title(s) None
> Definitive version: 1948, starring Gene Kelly

Source: Courtesy of Paramount

Invasion of the Body Snatchers
> Years released: 1956, 1978, 1993, 2007
> Alternate title(s) Body Snatchers, The Invasion
> Definitive version: 1956, starring Kevin McCarthy


Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Treasure Island
> Years released: 1918, 1920, 1934, 1950, 1972, 1999
> Alternate title(s) None
> Definitive version: 1950, starring Robert Newton

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

> Years released: 1931, 1973, 1994, 2015
> Alternate title(s) Frankenstein: The True Story, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
> Definitive version: 1931, starring Boris Karloff

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

A Star is Born
> Years released: 1937, 1954, 1976, 2018
> Alternate title(s) None
> Definitive version: 1954, starring Judy Garland and James Mason


Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Productions

The Jungle Book
> Years released: 1942, 1967, 1994, 2016, 2018
> Alternate title(s) Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle
> Definitive version: 1967 (animated), starring Phil Harris and Sebastian Cabot (voices)

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