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Classic vs remake: 8 movies that original did better at box office than remake

For movies like 'West Side Story,' 'Red Dawn,' original film has outperformed the remake at box office

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Movie fans and critics have strong opinions about film remakes. 

A remake can be a whopping success or a massive flop. Filmmakers are taking a risk when they try to reimagine beloved stories fans have adored for years. Some love to see a new take on their favorite films, while others could do without it. 

Measuring which is "better" is difficult to do, with opinions swirling backing either version. 

A photo still from "Ghostbusters" and one from "Mean Girls"

The original "Ghostbusters" and "Mean Girls" are two examples of classic films that did better than their remakes. (Columbia Pictures/Getty Images | CBS via Getty Images)

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As far as the box office goes, there are select remakes that have been able to outshine the original movie in numbers alone, while for others, the originals hold the most financial success. Even though the box office numbers of the originals below beat those of the remade movies (with inflation considered), which is the "better" movie will always be up for debate. 

So, take a look at eight originals that scored higher at the domestic box office than their remakes.

  1. "Mean Girls"
  2. "West Side Story"
  3. "The Jungle Book"
  4. "Pete's Dragon"
  5. "Ghostbusters"
  6. "Red Dawn"
  7. "Point Break"
  8. "Conan the Barbarian"

1. "Mean Girls"

The original "Mean Girls" came out in 2004 and starred Lindsay Lohan as the new girl in school and Rachel McAdams as Regina George, the most popular girl in school. Amanda Seyfried and Lacey Chabert played Karen Smith and Gretchen Wieners, respectively. 

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The 2004 film is a cult classic, even with its own celebrated day, Oct. 3, honoring one of the movie's most memorable scenes.

The story told in the movie was adapted from the book "Queen Bees and Wannabes" by Rosalind Wiseman. 

After a musical version of the story began on stage, a new movie was on its way. 

Twenty years after the original, a second "Mean Girls" movie was released and included songs from the hit Broadway musical. 

The movie that starred Angourie Rice, Reneé Rapp, Auli'i Cravalho, Avantika Vandanapu and Bebe Wood didn't quite live up to the original. 

Angourie Rice and Lindsay Lohan at "Mean Girls" premiere

Angourie Rice played Cady Heron, a role originally held by Lindsay Lohan, in the 2024 "Mean Girls" movie. (John Lamparski/WireImage)

The original grossed $86,058,055 at the domestic box office, according to Box Office Mojo. That values at about $142,844,526 today, according to the U.S. Inflation Calculator.

The 2024 remake did $72,404,248 at the domestic box office, according to Box Office Mojo, coming in lower than the original movie, without inflation considered.

2. "West Side Story"

There have been two "West Side Story" movies inspired by William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet." The story was first made into a musical that began in 1957. 

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The original musical movie came out in 1961, with stars like Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, George Chakiris, Russ Tamblyn and Rita Moreno all making up the cast. 

Box office numbers aside, the movie was widely popular among critics, with 11 Oscar nominations. The movie won in all categories but one.

The movie grossed $44,055,492 at the domestic box office, which would equal about $461,990,348 today, according to the U.S. Inflation Calculator. 

Still from "West Side Story"

The original "West Side Story" movie won 10 Oscar awards.  (Donaldson Collection/Getty Images)

In 2021, a remake was released, with big shoes to fill. The Steven Spielberg-directed film starred Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler as Tony and Maria. 

The 2021 remake did not do as well as the original movie, grossing $38,530,322 at the domestic box office, according to Box Office Mojo. 

3. "The Jungle Book"

Over the years, "The Jungle Book" has been made twice. The original animated Disney movie based on the book by Rudyard Kipling was made in 1967. A live action movie was made in 2016. 

The animated version of the movie had an impressive showing, grossing $141,843,612, according to Box Office Mojo, domestically back in 1967. That would roughly be a whopping $1,331,580,265 today. 

Looking at the box office numbers for the 2016 film, it grossed $364,001,123 domestically, but did do better internationally, having grossed $602,549,477, according to Box Office Mojo. 

Even the movie's worldwide box office number of $966,550,600 wasn't quite able to measure up to the original animated film with inflation taken into account. 

4. "Pete's Dragon"

The original "Pete's Dragon" came out in 1977. Sean Marshall, Mickey Rooney, Helen Reddy and Shelley Winters were among those who were part of the film. 

The Disney film grossed $39,588,000 domestically, according to Box Office Mojo. That number would equal around $204,830,663 in 2024. 

"Pete's Dragon" poster

The animated "Pete's Dragon" movie came out in 1977 and did better at the box office than the remake that came out in 2016.  (GAB Archive/Redferns)

In 2016, a remake of the film was released, with Oakes Fegley, Robert Redford and Bryce Dallas Howard part of the cast.

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The 2016 movie grossed $76,233,151 at the domestic box office on a $65,000,000 budget, according to Box Office Mojo, falling below what the 1977 movie made with inflation taken into account. 

5. "Ghostbusters"

Even though there have been a couple different versions of "Ghostbusters" released since 1984, none have measured up to the success of the original movie. 

In 1984, the first of two "Ghostbusters" movies was released with Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson as the original team. 

The 1984 movie grossed $243,578,797 at the domestic box office, which would be about $735,068,764 today. 

"Ghostbusters II" came out in 1989 and didn't do quite as well as the first movie of the original franchise, grossing $112,494,738 at the domestic box office, which comes out to about $284,455,646 today. 

The first "Ghostbusters" reboot came out in 2016, featuring an all-female supernatural fighting crew made up of Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. 

Still from original "Ghostbusters" movie

The original "Ghostbusters" movie has proven hard to compete with, as it has done the best at the box office than the other films that have been made following a similar story. (Columbia Pictures/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

This movie didn't do too well at the box office, grossing $128,350,574 in 2016, far below what the original movie would have grossed today. 

Then a new series of "Ghosbusters" came, with the 2021 movie "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" starring Paul Rudd, McKenna Grace and Finn Wolfhard. 

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This movie did about the same at the box office as the 2016 film, grossing $129,360,575 domestically, according to Box Office Mojo. 

A new film, "Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire," following the story set in the 2021 movie, came out in March 2024. This movie grossed $113,020,051 domestically, showing that none of the newer versions quite pair up with the numbers set by the original film. 

6. "Red Dawn"

The original action-packed film, "Red Dawn," came out in 1984. The movie starred Patrick Swayze just a few years before he was part of the cult classic "Road House." The 1984 movie also starred Charlie Sheen. 

The movie grossed $38,376,497 at the domestic box office, according to Box Office Mojo, which would be about $115,812,068 today. 

A remake was released in 2012, with Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck and Josh Hutcherson. In 2012, the movie only grossed $44,806,783 domestically, according to Box Office Mojo, which with inflation considered, would be about $61,190,959 in 2024, falling short of the original film's box office numbers with inflation kept in mind. 

7. "Point Break"

Swayze has been in many movies that have received a remake. "Point Break" is another one of them. Swayze was joined by Keanu Reeves in this film. 

The 1991 film grossed $43,218,387 at the domestic box office, which would be about $99,493,677 with inflation today. 

Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze in "Point Break"

Patrick Swayze has been a lead character in numerous movies that have been remade, including "Point Break." (Richard Foreman/Fotos International/Getty Images)

In 2015, a remake hit theaters, reaching only $28,782,481 at the domestic box office, with a budget of $105,000,000, according to Box Office Mojo, The movie did gross $133,782,481 worldwide, putting it slightly above budget. 

8. "Conan the Barbarian"

"Conan the Barbarian" was originally released in 1982, with Arnold Schwarzenegger leading the cast. The movie did $39,565,475 at the domestic box office, which would be roughly $128,556,223 in 2024. 

In 2011, Jason Momoa stepped into the role previously held by Schwarzenegger, years before he stepped out as superhero Aquaman. 

The 2011 movie didn't do well across the board with its box office numbers, making $21,295,021 domestically, according to Box Office Mojo, and only $42,228,262 internationally. The movie had a budget of $90,000,000.

Ashlyn Messier is a writer for Fox News Digital. 

Authored by Ashlyn Messier via FoxNews June 10th 2024