ByMark Newton, writer at
Movie Pilot Associate Editor. Email: [email protected]
Mark Newton

At the end of the day, the mainstream movie industry is exactly that, an industry.

This means its priority is to make products and then make money from those products. Increasingly, it seems the easy way to make sick stacks of cash is to create reboots, sequels or adaptations of previously successful stories. For example of the 10 most successful movies this year, only one, San Andreas, can be considered 'original' - although a massive earthquake destroying California is hardly the craziest idea of a movie we've ever heard.

Uproxx decided to investigate this phenomenon by taking a look at top grossing movies of every year since 1990, and then categorizing them as either 'Original' or 'Adaptation/Remake/Sequel'. However, demarcating movies into such strict categories isn't always simple, so the following notes were provided:

Some notes: I counted all the James Bond movies as Adaptation/Remake/Sequel, because even though Skyfall told a new story, it’s still the 23rd film in a series that’s based on a book character. But the first Pirates of the Caribbean is Original (it’s not as if the Disney ride has a plot), as is The LEGO Movie. Films based on real-life events were evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Titanic is Original because the story isn’t lifted from a specific book, unlike Adaptation/Remake/Sequel Schindler’s List, which is. (Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ is somewhere in the middle.)


Original: Home Alone, Ghost, Pretty Woman, Kindergarten Cop

Adaptation/Remake/Sequel: Dances with Wolves, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Hunt for Red October, Total Recall, Die Hard 2: Die Harder, Dick Tracy


Original: City Slickers

Adaptation/Remake/Sequel: Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Beauty and the Beast, The Silence of the Lambs, Hook, The Addams Family, Sleeping with the Enemy, Father of the Bride, The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear


Original: Sister Act, The Bodyguard, Basic Instinct, A League of Their Own

Adaptation/Remake/Sequel: Aladdin, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Batman Returns, Lethal Weapon 3, A Few Good Men, Wayne’s World


Original: Sleepless in Seattle, In the Line of Fire, Cliffhanger

Adaptation/Remake/Sequel: Jurassic Park, Mrs. Doubtfire, The Fugitive, The Firm, Indecent Proposal, The Pelican Brief, Schindler’s List


Original: The Lion King, The Santa Clause, Dumb and Dumber, Speed, Pulp Fiction

Adaptation/Remake/Sequel: Forrest Gump, True Lies, The Flintstones, Clear and Present Danger, The Mask


Original: Toy Story, Se7en

Adaptation/Remake/Sequel: Batman Forever, Apollo 13, Pocahontas, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, GoldenEye, Jumanji, Casper, Die Hard: With a Vengeance


Original: Independence Day, Twister, Jerry Maguire, The Rock

Adaptation/Remake/Sequel: Mission: Impossible, Ransom, 101 Dalmatians, The Nutty Professor, The Birdcage, A Time to Kill


Original: Titanic, Liar Liar, Air Force One, As Good as It Gets, Good Will Hunting, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Face/Off

Adaptation/Remake/Sequel: Men in Black, The Lost World, Tomorrow Never Dies


Original: Saving Private Ryan, Armageddon, There’s Something About Mary, A Bug’s Life, The Waterboy, Rush Hour, Deep Impact

Adaptation/Remake/Sequel: Doctor Dolittle, Godzilla, Patch Adams


Original: The Sixth Sense, The Matrix, Big Daddy, Runaway Bride, The Blair Witch Project

Adaptation/Remake/Sequel: Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Toy Story 2, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Tarzan, The Mummy


Original: Cast Away, Gladiator, What Women Want, Scary Movie, What Lies Beneath

Adaptation/Remake/Sequel: How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Meet the Parents, Mission: Impossible II, The Perfect Storm, X-Men


Original: Monsters, Inc., Pearl Harbor

Adaptation/Remake/Sequel: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Jurassic Park III, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Mummy Returns, Ocean’s Eleven, Planet of the Apes, Rush Hour 2, Shrek


Original: My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Signs

Adaptation/Remake/Sequel: Austin Powers in Goldmember, Chicago, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Ice Age, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Men in Black II, Spider-Man, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones


Original: Bruce Almighty, Elf, Finding Nemo, Pirates of the Caribbean

Adaptation/Remake/Sequel: Cheaper by the Dozen, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, X2


Original: The Day After Tomorrow, The Incredibles, National Treasure

Adaptation/Remake/Sequel: The Bourne Supremacy, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, The Passion of the Christ, Meet the Fockers, The Polar Express, Shrek 2, Spider-Man 2


Original: Madagascar, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Wedding Crashers

Adaptation/Remake/Sequel: Batman Begins, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, King Kong, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, War of the Worlds


Original: Cars, Happy Feet

Adaptation/Remake/Sequel: Casino Royale, The Da Vinci Code, Ice Age: The Meltdown, Night at the Museum, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, The Pursuit of Happyness, Superman Returns, X-Men: The Last Stand


Original: None

Adaptation/Remake/Sequel: 300, Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Bourne Ultimatum, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I Am Legend, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Shrek the Third, Spider-Man 3, Transformers


Original: Hancock, Kung Fu Panda, WALL-E

Adaptation/Remake/Sequel: The Dark Knight, Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Iron Man, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Quantum of Solace, Twilight


Original: Avatar, Up, The Hangover

Adaptation/Remake/Sequel: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Star Trek, The Blind Side, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, Sherlock Holmes


Original: Inception, Despicable Me

Adaptation/Remake/Sequel: Toy Story 3, Alice in Wonderland, Iron Man 2, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Shrek Forever After, How to Train Your Dragon, Tangled


Original: None

Adaptation/Remake/Sequel: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1, The Hangover Part II, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Fast Five, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Cars 2, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Thor


Original: Brave, Ted

Adaptation/Remake/Sequel: Marvel’s The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, The Hunger Games, Skyfall, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2, The Amazing Spider-Man, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted


Original: Gravity

Adaptation/Remake/Sequel: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Iron Man 3, Frozen, Despicable Me 2, Man of Steel, Monsters University, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Fast & Furious 6, Oz the Great and Powerful


Original: The LEGO Movie

Adaptation/Remake/Sequel: American Sniper, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Maleficent, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Big Hero 6

So how does this all tally up? Well, in the 1990s there were 42 original movies in the top 10 grosses for each year, in the 2000s there were 27, and half way through the 2010s we've had only six.

All this seems to suggest cinema really isn't the place to go if you want new original stories. In fact, many of the movies which were original are now also getting their own modern reboots. Does this mean Hollywood is running out of new ideas? Nope, not really, simply that people are more willing to pay for old ideas. Outside of the mainstream blockbuster movies there are countless original films being made, unfortunately, they are simply never marketed, and then subsequently patronized, as much as studio remakes, sequels and adaptations.

Source: Uproxx


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