Yes, Remakes Do Suck -- And the Tomatometer Proves It

Ahead of a massive year of remakes and reboots, we crunch the numbers to discover how good they actually are, which year had the most, and why we keep making them.

by | January 24, 2019 | Comments

Walt Disney Studios

(Photo by Walt Disney Studios)

There are going to be helluva lot of remakes and reboots this year, beginning with The Upside (the remake of French film The Intouchables that opened back on January 11) and ending with another version of Little Women (scheduled to open on Christmas Day), this time directed by Greta Gerwig. Between those movies we will get to see What Men Want, Pet Sematary, Dumbo, Hellboy, Shaft, Aladdin, Child’s Play, and Disney’s live-action and CGI remake of The Lion King. Often, critics will look at a slate like that and sigh: Where is the originality? Where are the fresh ideas?

But are remakes and reboots really such a bad thing? We turned to the Tomatometer to find out. First, we compiled a data set of over 400 remakes and reboots that have been released since 1978 and then we compared their Tomatometer scores to the films they were remaking or rebooting. What did we learn? The Tomatometer averages of all the remakes (47%) and reboots (53%) in our data set comes nowhere close to their “originals” (81% for movies that have been remade, and 69% for movies that have been “rebooted”). And we discovered that only 40 movies had better Tomatometer scores than the original films they were remaking or rebooting — that’s less than 10%. Also, if you ever make a successful horror movie, odds are it will be remade at least once.

The following breaks down Tomatometer data on 40 years’ worth of remakes and reboots (and we’re already planning to remake this article, so check back next year to read it again). If you’re interested (we know you are) we have a breakdown of how we decided which films were remakes/reboots and the number of movies in each category below.

Remakes Average a 47% Tomatometer Score — Originals Average 81%

Warner Bros.

(Photo by Warner Bros.)

The Tomatometer difference between remakes and their predecessors is a considerable 34%. There are 84 different reasons for this difference: specifically, 84 remakes – among them, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Bachelor, Original Sin, and The Stepfather – have at least a 50% Tomatometer difference between them and their predecessors. That figure seriously drags the average down.

Only 33% of the Remakes in Our Data Set Have a Fresh Tomatometer Score

Lionsgate courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by Lionsgate courtesy Everett Collection)

For every Fresh remake, there are two Rotten ones, which means the bad outweighs the good in the vast remake landscape. These kinds of numbers make us love remakes like The Departed, The Thing, 3:10 to Yuma, Dawn of the Dead, Fright Night, and A Star is Born even more, because they are among the rare 33% that worked. And those films have been rewarded for their efforts: some won Oscars (The Departed), some became cult classics (The Thing), and some made over $1 billion at the worldwide box office (Beauty and the Beast).

Only 40 Remakes and Reboots Since 1978 Have a Higher Tomatometer Score Than the Original Film

Warner Bros. courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by Warner Bros. courtesy Everett Collection)

What do the Coen brothers (True Grit), Martin Scorsese (The Departed), Jon Favreau (The Jungle Book), Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven), and George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road) have in common? They all directed remakes or reboots that have higher Tomatometer scores than the originals they were based on. (And yes, we’re classifying Fury Road – not a direct sequel or prequel – as a reboot; Miller has called it a “revisiting.”) If you are an ambitious filmmaker looking to build some street cred, you should remake a movie with a low Tomatometer score so you can join this exclusive club. (Also, if you have some free time, you need to watch Werner Herzog’s 2009 remake Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans; it improves upon its predecessor and features Nicolas Cage staring at an iguana).

2005 Had More Theatrically Released Remakes and Reboots Than Any Other Year

Universal courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by Universal courtesy Everett Collection)

In 2005, there were 18 remakes, two reboots (Batman Begins, The Punisher), and three television adaptations (The Honeymooners, Aeon Flux, Bewitched) that hit the big screens. The overall Tomatometer score for these films is 44%, and only seven of them – including Batman Begins, War of the Worlds, and King Kong – could muster Fresh scores. You might also remember this decade, the 2000s, as the era in which seemingly every single successful horror movie of the 1970s and 1980s was remade. 2005 did its part to help, with The Fog, House of Wax, Dark Water, and The Amityville Horror all coming out and receiving Rotten scores.

2006 was a close second with 18 remakes and two reboots (Superman Returns, Casino Royale) released theatrically as well. However, we gave 2005 the edge, because on top of the remakes and reboots, three television adaptations were released theatrically, while 2006 had none.

The 1980s Knew How to Remake Movies

Universal courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by Universal courtesy Everett Collection)

When compared to the 1990s (49%), 2000s (41%), and 2010s (45% so far), the 1980s were a most excellent time for remakes – the decade’s remakes have a Tomatometer average of 57%. Movies like The Fly, The Thing, Little Shop of Horrors, No Way Out, Dead of Winter, Scrooged, Scarface, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and Down and Out in Beverly Hills are all Fresh and recognized as classics of their genre. The fact that the majority of the remakes from the decade (58% of them) have Fresh Tomatometer scores speaks volumes for the 1980s and proves there could be hope for future decades. It’s too bad that remakes of 1980s movies themselves average a very Rotten 37%.

Horror is the Most Remade Genre

Universal courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by Universal courtesy Everett Collection)

Since 1978, well over 100 Tomatometer-rated horror films have been remade, and the result is a scarily Rotten 39% Tomatometer average for them. Nothing is sacred in horror – films fall prey to multiple remakes, reboots, or in the case of Evil Dead 2, a remake sequel (a.k.a. “requel”). Even oft-remade directors like John Carpenter (Halloween, Assault on Precinct 13, The Fog) aren’t afraid of remaking movies themselves (The Thing, Village of the Damned), which means there are directors who are remaking horror movies while other directors are remaking their films. And the circle of horror life goes on.

Reboots Have Higher Tomatometer Averages than Remakes

Chuck Zlotnick/Columbia Pictures

(Photo by Chuck Zlotnick/Columbia Pictures)

With Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), Star Trek (2009), Dredd (2012), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), and Casino Royale (2006) leading the way, it’s clear why reboots have higher Tomatometer averages than remakes (53% vs. 47%). What exactly is a reboot? It’s a movie like Star Trek that restarts an established series with different actors and a new storyline. Also, in another improvement from remakes, only 56% of reboots have Rotten Tomatometer scores, and the average difference between them and their predecessors is only 16% (as opposed to 34% for remakes).

The James Bond Franchise Has Mastered the Reboot

Sony Pictures courtesy Everett Collection

(Photo by Sony Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)

The James Bond franchise has been around for 56 years and 26 films, largely because it has embraced the reboot. Five of the six Bond reboots (including Sean Connery’s return after George Lazenby’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) have had equal or higher Tomatometer scores than the movies before them. When averaged, the six reboots (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die, The Living Daylights, Goldeneye, and Casino Royale) have an excellent Tomatometer average of 75%, which is higher than the Tomatometer averages (64%) of the movies that come before the reboots. If you are producer looking to restart a franchise, study the Bond series. (We didn’t include Never Say Never Again because it isn’t MGM Bond canon.)

Disney is the King of 21st-Century Remakes

Walt Disney Pictures

(Photo by Walt Disney Pictures)

Disney has had their fair share of Rotten remakes (The Shaggy Dog, The Three Musketeers, That Darn Cat, Flubber) but that hasn’t stopped them from perfecting the craft of remaking in recent years. Since 2010, they’ve rolled out wildly successful remakes of Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, Cinderella, The Jungle Book, Pete’s Dragon, and Beauty and the Beast. These remakes have a Fresh Tomatometer average of 73% and have given Disney the confidence it needs to continue, with new remakes of The Lion King, Aladdin, and Dumbo hitting theaters this year.

Do Remakes or Reboots Win Academy Awards?

Warner Bros.

(Photo by Warner Bros.)

Only three remakes – The Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), Ben-Hur (1959), and The Departed (2006) – can boast an Academy Award for Best Picture, meaning remakes have only won 3.2% of the Best Picture Academy Awards since 1927. Considering that A-list directors like the Coen brothers, Werner Herzog, Peter Jackson, Christopher Nolan, Kenneth Branagh, David Fincher, Tim Burton, Steven Spielberg, and Terry Gilliam have tackled remakes, it’s surprising that number isn’t bigger. Will Bradley Cooper’s remake of A Star is Born join these three elite remakes?


  • What is a remake? – It is a movie with the same story and title (for the most part) as an earlier film.
  • What is a reboot? – A reboot is a new start to an already created fictional world. For example, 2009’s Star Trek is a reboot because it features familiar characters in a brand new adventure. It’s not the same story twice.
  • 374 Remakes and 43 Reboots
  • 306 remakes and their originals both had Tomatometer scores
  • 68 remakes had Tomatometer scores while their originals didn’t (they weren’t included in the first three facts)

What are your favorite remakes and reboots? Let us know in the comments section!

Tag Cloud

2016 natural history Mary Poppins Returns Lifetime japan Pixar ghosts Netflix game show hidden camera Reality Mindy Kaling crime comics Box Office BAFTA Universal Christmas President book BBC America festivals crime drama Starz scene in color Interview Columbia Pictures high school blaxploitation AMC Animation Disney Channel documentaries Black Mirror Shudder 94th Oscars Kids & Family sitcom canceled elevated horror chucky cops FX king kong Winter TV cats Tubi MCU boxing Pet Sematary best ABC discovery Showtime marvel cinematic universe classics Apple TV+ mob scary The Academy Masterpiece cancelled TV series ViacomCBS prank foreign Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt adenture PBS name the review young adult 21st Century Fox Awards Tour Crackle Drama Image Comics Holiday Sneak Peek MTV IFC Films Epix Teen christmas movies all-time VICE tv talk Red Carpet suspense Cannes Film Festival doctor who Warner Bros. batman monster movies olympics MSNBC Exclusive Video 2015 Certified Fresh American Society of Cinematographers scorecard Brie Larson cancelled television 90s dc revenge latino Country GoT royal family See It Skip It Hallmark Music YouTube Premium San Diego Comic-Con ratings know your critic OWN transformers Comic-Con@Home 2021 Summer SundanceTV mockumentary rt labs critics edition X-Men reboot Chernobyl Mary poppins movie Star Trek cancelled TV shows sequel Apple summer TV preview thriller nature spinoff facebook RT21 fast and furious news strong female leads robots new zealand Trophy Talk VOD Ovation award winner NBA sequels women History BBC PlayStation TV One television WarnerMedia king arthur live action Shondaland HBO Trailer series Spectrum Originals 20th Century Fox ABC Family Comics on TV Comedy Central debate Spike Sci-Fi Comic Book ITV OneApp rt labs Netflix Christmas movies YouTube Red Television Critics Association die hard hist TCA 2017 Sundance TV Extras Rom-Com binge 2018 Holidays Hallmark Christmas movies anime romance Opinion child's play directors a nightmare on elm street Logo parents Disney Plus 79th Golden Globes Awards Hulu video medical drama Stephen King Podcast spider-verse telelvision Hollywood Foreign Press Association rt archives CNN screen actors guild Year in Review Fox Searchlight what to watch FOX cancelled mission: impossible indiana jones 2019 boxoffice razzies TV Land Universal Pictures YouTube WGN werewolf asian-american justice league Turner Captain marvel Women's History Month Trivia romantic comedy Rocky Western comic book movie obi wan black finale reviews composers Nickelodeon singing competition comic book movies Countdown Pirates Comedy rotten movies we love Biopics NYCC The Walt Disney Company summer preview travel Endgame spy thriller Best Actress zombies The Purge Crunchyroll TV 71st Emmy Awards remakes french Esquire fresh 4/20 pirates of the caribbean Tumblr Alien universal monsters unscripted crime thriller social media Prime Video broadcast Cosplay Tags: Comedy Binge Guide james bond DC Comics renewed TV shows biography football book adaptation Infographic zero dark thirty Black History Month E3 theme song dogs USA rotten screenings toronto Marvel Television SXSW 2022 kong adventure animated Amazon Studios A&E Sundance archives Rocketman Tarantino CBS Discovery Channel spanish Lionsgate First Look Anna Paquin Wes Anderson films Travel Channel DGA TV movies psycho Best and Worst BET TV renewals legend cooking italian Sundance Now teaser halloween tv Horror Elton John Peacock Film politics nbcuniversal disaster Fantasy Food Network art house Vudu Fargo IMDb TV basketball Syfy anthology Musical japanese Funimation Sony Pictures Pop Fall TV children's TV Walt Disney Pictures dreamworks deadpool Apple TV Plus true crime cartoon TCA The CW posters comic books cinemax satire mcc biopic zombie CMT Toys period drama obituary diversity free movies new star wars movies Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 72 Emmy Awards cults National Geographic Emmys A24 Instagram Live trophy Best Picture independent saw Best Director docuseries TCA Awards slasher CBS All Access versus marvel comics The Witch Avengers Nat Geo game of thrones HBO Go comic 2020 technology breaking bad Arrowverse gangster APB feel good AMC Plus heist movie Amazon Prime Hear Us Out dragons rom-coms dramedy based on movie BBC One Family USA Network blockbuster Pride Month franchise Mary Tyler Moore TBS adaptation Adult Swim VH1 TLC Star Wars Television Academy stand-up comedy Dark Horse Comics streaming movies GLAAD lord of the rings Super Bowl summer TV serial killer festival CW Seed australia Song of Ice and Fire international Paramount Pictures golden globe awards trailers Disney TruTV ID jamie lee curtis Acorn TV streamig Paramount Network Focus Features green book GIFs Cartoon Network Thanksgiving quibi Photos historical drama police drama Superheroe slashers criterion comiccon BET Awards wonder woman Lifetime Christmas movies 99% Mystery crossover south america space FX on Hulu YA Polls and Games mutant HFPA indie worst action-comedy critic resources Action Grammys Valentine's Day New York Comic Con richard e. Grant worst movies Video Games 2017 MGM Legendary Freeform ESPN LGBTQ Paramount Plus The Walking Dead miniseries Paramount Election Winners Musicals The Arrangement 73rd Emmy Awards Schedule movies FXX venice golden globes political drama blockbusters Spring TV toy story El Rey Premiere Dates Martial Arts Tomatazos 007 emmy awards genre Britbox jurassic park TCA Winter 2020 Character Guide Marvel halloween popular aliens 1990s canceled TV shows E! Academy Awards TCM Marvel Studios IFC live event dexter vampires kaiju Turner Classic Movies laika Ghostbusters Watching Series Superheroes Oscars Tokyo Olympics Reality Competition Creative Arts Emmys vs. Rock hollywood joker concert sopranos Lucasfilm DC streaming service Quiz spanish language twilight stoner hispanic heritage month documentary Disney+ Disney Plus witnail Baby Yoda science fiction hispanic new york Heroines dark Amazon Prime Video leaderboard Best Actor TNT 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards 24 frames SDCC war Calendar First Reviews Disney streaming service nfl critics 45 Pop TV DirecTV Mudbound psychological thriller kids Emmy Nominations 93rd Oscars sag awards DC Universe Nominations cars Pacific Islander target Fox News South by Southwest Film Festival streaming video on demand scary movies PaleyFest casting Awards Writers Guild of America Classic Film LGBT black comedy aapi harry potter Oscar superman Broadway dceu Marathons talk show HBO Max comedies godzilla sports RT History spider-man ABC Signature 2021 docudrama TIFF stop motion Ellie Kemper SXSW supernatural Set visit Bravo superhero Neflix Amazon NBC spain