Why Does Hollywood Keep Remaking Movies?


“Movie theater” by JanneM is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Kayla Katounas

In the past few years, film and television remakes have become more and more common, and Hollywood has started to face more backlash for it. The most recent example of this came when The CW released a photo from their new show Powerpuff, a remake of The Powerpuff Girls series. Many are worried it will fare the same as The CW’s Riverdale, based on the Archie Comics, which notoriously gets low audience reviews.

Remakes of movies have been made for decades, but in more recent years, it can seem like remakes are made just as often as original content. Movie remakes hit their peak popularity in the 2000s, with an average of almost 20 remade movies every year, according to an article by Mental Floss. While several have become well-loved, it still brings up the question of why movies are remade when you could just watch the original. Why put so much work into a story that has been told before when a new one could be told instead? To put it simply, the answer is money.

One of the biggest reasons movies are remade is because they are often easy cash grabs for major studios. Using a well-known story or franchise guarantees a built-in audience of people who are already fans, excited to see what is hopefully a new take on beloved characters. Even if the movie isn’t reviewed well, they can still earn big box office numbers because devoted fans are curious to see what happens. Remakes can also be used as a safety net for big studios that plan on making riskier movies. Making a movie that will almost definitely bring in a lot of money can make it easier for a studio to release a new movie that they aren’t sure will reach a huge audience.

There have been several successful movie remakes in the past with good outcomes, including Scarface (1983) starring Al Pacino, a remake of Scarface (1932), and Oceans Eleven (2001), a remake of the 1960 film of the same name. The US version of The Office lasted seven seasons longer than the UK version it was based on. Something all of these have in common is that the thing that they were based on was not as well known as its remake. This may be the key to a hugely popular remake of a movie. Rather than just making a movie again because it’s been a while, it is popularizing and introducing an audience to an existing story that they just hadn’t yet heard. And without many people knowing the originals, viewers have less to compare it to. Many more criticized remakes and reboots come from original work that was already extremely popular. 

Despite the criticism of reboots, they are nowhere near coming to a stop. There are a large number of remakes in the works for this year, especially with the rise of streaming services, it seems every new service has at least one big reboot in the works to draw people in. HBO Max is rebooting Gossip Girl and Practical Magic, Paramount Plus has iCarly and Grease, and Peacock is working on Punky Brewster and Clueless. Even Netflix recently announced that He’s All That, a reboot of the 1998 teen rom-com She’s All That, is set to release this August, starring TikTok star Addison Rae. So, whether you love or hate movie and TV remakes, it seems there is no stopping them from being made.