Hollywood remakes movies for a variety of reasons. Sometimes a studio just wants to reintroduce an older successful film — such as RoboCop — to a new generation. In other cases, a director wants to recycle a storyline in an entirely different setting, like John Sturges did when he reimagined Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai as a western with The Magnificent Seven. However, some films are remade simply because the original is a foreign film. Unfamiliar cultural references, the language barrier, or a lack of bankable Hollywood stars can make many foreign films less marketable in the U.S.
While there are many great foreign films that have been remade into equally great American films, there are also quite a few foreign movies that would have been better off if the studio had just slapped some subtitles on the screen and called it a day. In the interest of illuminating the causes behind these cinematic disasters, here are eight successful foreign films that were remade into American flops. The movies are ordered according to critical rankings on Rotten Tomatoes, from best to worst.
8. The original: Solaris (1972)
The remake: Solaris (2002)
Since both of these films were adapted from a science fiction novel of the same name, it can be argued that the 2002 Steven Soderbergh-directed film is not technically a remake of the Andrei Tarkovsky-directed 1972 film. However, since the critically acclaimed original was considered such a landmark science fiction film, it was inevitably compared to the 2002 adaptation and — not surprisingly – the newer movie was judged as inferior.
Tarkovsky’s film earned the Cannes Film Festival’s Grand Prize of the Jury and is still considered by many fans to be one of the greatest science fiction movies ever made, as reflected by its 96% Certified Fresh rating from the critics at Rotten Tomatoes. Although Soderbergh’s version starring George Clooney was well-received by some film critics and earned a 66% critical rating from Rotten Tomatoes, it was still a box office flop. According to Box Office Mojo, the 2002 version of Solaris only made $15 million in domestic gross, but had a $47 million production budget.