Some great movies get remade with disastrous or forgettable results while other so-so films get remade to spectacular success. In both cases, one film completely overshadows other films that bear its name to the point that no one has to worry that other people won’t understand them when they refer to the one film everyone knows. Here are 11 examples of potentially ambiguous movie titles that obviously refer to just one film.
There have been three film adaptations of Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. But let’s face it, the 1959 version with Charlton Heston is the one everyone thinks of when anyone mentions the name “Ben-Hur.” The makers of the 2016 version would have been better off remaking something besides this venerable classic.
Rebooting the Bond series with Casino Royale back in 2006 was a masterstroke. Not only did it introduce Daniel Craig as James Bond in spectacular fashion, but it also completely redeemed the “Casino Royale” title after the embarrassing non-Eon Productions comedy of the same name back in 1967. Now it’s impossible to think of anything other than one of the best Bond films of all time when anyone references Casino Royale.
The Fast and the Furious
The Fast and the Furious has the same title as a 1967 Roger Corman film, but hardly anyone remembers that old film. The fourth movie in the series, which is simply called Fast & Furious, muddies the waters a bit because it is so similar to the first film’s title. Plus, a couple of films in the 1920s and 1930s share that same title, though with “and” instead of an ampersand. But I still think if someone takes the time to say the entire title of the first film, there’s no way to misunderstand what they’re talking about.
It’s only been two years since the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot came and went, and it’s already been mostly forgotten. It failed to leave a lasting impact rivaling the 1984 original. Of course, the 1984 film has a name similar to a short-lived 1975 TV show called The Ghost Busters and its 1986 animated iteration Ghostbusters. But there is no question who you’re gonna call Ghostbusters.
The Magnificent Seven
2016 was quite a year for remakes of old films. We’ve already mentioned Ben-Hur and Ghostbusters, but The Magnificent Seven is a little different. The remake is actually a good film in its own right, and it deserves to be remembered fondly. Despite its stellar cast, punchy dialogue, and well-shot action sequences, the remake is fighting an uphill battle trying to outshine the original 1960 version (which I know is a reimagining of Seven Samurai). That one had one of the best ensemble casts ever assembled, including immortal names like Steve McQueen, Yul Brynner, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, and Robert Vaughn! The new one is great, but it’ll never be known as THE Magnificent Seven.
This one is helpful because the 1960 Rat Pack film is entitled Ocean’s 11, so there will never be any confusion between it and the 2001 film Ocean’s Eleven when they’re written out. In common parlance, as well, they are oceans apart.
Remember when Point Break got remade in 2015? For some reason, Kurt Wimmer, director of Equilibrium and writer of Law Abiding Citizen, decided to write and produce a remake of this classic Keanu Reeves action movie. Sadly, Wimmer did not pick a winner this time. It made $15 million less in the U.S. than the original (not adjusted for inflation), but it made quite a bit more worldwide. Still, there’s nothing quite like the Patrick Swayze-Keanu Reeves dynamic of Point Break. Talk about a pointless remake.
RoboCop is one of those special films whose success just can’t be recreated. Its stylized use of violence, symmetrical storytelling, and sympathetic hero work perfectly. Every film, TV show, and miniseries that has followed in its footsteps has been unable to fully (or even remotely) capture its greatness. The same is true of the 2014 reboot. Even if it was in the discount bin at Wal-Mart, I would not buy that for a dollar.
The Ten Commandments
Like Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments is a movie that came out in the 1950s after being made twice before in previous decades. A musical, a TV movie, and an animated film have all shared its name in recent years, but none of them can hold a candle to the 1956 version. DreamWorks had the good sense to call their animated feature about Moses The Prince of Egypt and Ridley Scott called his version Exodus: Gods and Kings instead of The Ten Commandments. Thou shalt not steal this movie title.
It’s weird to give a prequel the same name as the original, which is itself a remake of a film with a longer name. But that’s what we got with the 2011 film The Thing. Much like Psycho, Halloween, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and other classic horror films, The Thing will live on while its inferior offspring will count for nothing.
Hopefully Hollywood has learned its lesson when it comes to remaking Paul Verhoeven films. It doesn’t work. 2012’s Total Recall was their first attempt, and I doubt many people even remember this film. The image of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s eyes popping out of his skull is burned into my memory, and that’s just one memorable moment among dozens. I couldn’t tell you anything about the visuals in the remake. It will remain totally forgotten.
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