Do Remakes Actually Make Any Money?

Hi all…

Today I saw in the news on that McG, director of 2009’s upcoming Terminator Salvation movie, is going to do a version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Yet another remake. It was done very well back in 1954 (IMHO) by Walt Disney and both made money (2nd highest grossing film that year) and won awards (3 Oscars).

Though this doesn’t appear to be a remake persay (this film will be an origin story of how Nemo created the Nautilus), it’s still a new spin on an old story — Jules Verne wrote the novel in 1872. And I have to wonder why we’d want a remake? The ’54 version is a classic in my book and should be left alone. (Maybe I’m alone in thinking this, who knows?)

But this made me start wondering whether remakes actually make any money. With the recent remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still and some others, what has the trend been?

According to Box Office Mojo, the 2008 version of The Day the Earth Stood Still has made almost $75 million domestically and $129 million in other countries, for a whopping $204 million. Not bad for a production budget of $80 million. I was unable to find out how the 1954 version did, but somehow I doubt the Keanu version will win any Oscars.

3:10 to Yuma (2007 film)
Image via Wikipedia

3:10 to Yuma was redone in 2007 and did (IMHO) pretty well remaking the 1957 version. Again, I don’t know how much the 1957 version made, but it didn’t seem to win any awards (though it was nominated for a Golden Laurel and a BAFTA Film Award). But the 2007 version doesn’t seem to have made much money, bringing in only $54 million domestically and $16 million foreign for a total of $70 million. Not a great amount of money for a film that cost $55 million to produce.

Taking a quick look at the top earning movies in 2008 (thanks Box Office Mojo!), there are no remakes in the top 25. The Day the Earth Stood Still was #39 on the list.

2007 was a little luckier with I Am Legend showing up as #6, earning $584 million worldwide and $256 million domestically. Not bad for a film that cost $150 million. It was a remake of The Omega Man from 1971. Again I can’t find box office numbers for the original, but the Charlton Heston version doesn’t seem to have won any awards, while the Will Smith version was nominated for 17 and took home 7 of those.

Obviously there’s a financial motive for the studios to redo these films. There’s no telling which movies will be successful. The public is a fickle beast. But it seems that movies (even bad remakes like The Day the Earth Stood Still) will make money, which will just continue the remake bandwagon in Hollywood.

Love it or hate it, movie making is a business. And the all mighty bottom line seems to be the guiding light for studios. Obviously the answer to the question — “Do remakes actually make any money?” is yes, sometimes.

Let’s hope that 20,000 Leagues doesn’t sink under its own weight. It has big diving suit shoes to fill and evidently McG and Walt Disney Pictures are hoping to squeeze more money out of it.


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  1. the truly sad thing is the fact that most people don’t even know most remakes are, in face, remakes. I know plenty of people who had never heard of the original The Day The Earth Stood Still, and after I told them, still didn’t really care.

    By the way, the original was released in 1951 not 54. An easy mess up to make, I always get films from the 50’s years messed up.

    Anyways, enjoying the blog. Good reading.

    Shawns last blog post.."Some things last." REVIEW

  2. @Shawn — Yes, unfortunately I totally agree. People have a short memory for popular culture, but that doesn’t stop all things old from becoming new again. Blows my mind that some people think adding Keanu to anything will make it better. 🙂

    Thanks for the date fix btw. A bit before my time (about 20 years!). 🙂

  3. With the economy getting worse, every movie made is a big risk for the studios. When they remake a franchise that already has an established fanbase, whether minuscule or massive, they can tap into the pre-existing familiarity with the property. Thus there is less risk in bringing back a character or a franchise that audiences already know, because its been successful at least once before.

    This wouldn’t be a trend if its not making any money so I guess remakes do earn.

  4. Yeah, I agree, remakes do make money!

    It is just sad that most remakes are bad rehashes of the classic they portray. But still, Hollywood movies and the film industry there are still better off than what we get locally here in the Philippines!


    Reel Advices last blog post..Bedtime Stories: Movie Review

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