How Many Of The Highest-Grossing Movies Since 1990 Aren’t Sequels Or Remakes?

There’s nothing inherently wrong with a sequel, or a remake, or an adaptation. The Godfather Part II is two of those, and it’s one of the greatest movies ever. But they’ve become dirty words because it’s shocking when an original film is released, especially during the summer blockbuster season. Of the 10 most $$$uccessful movies this year, only one, San Andreas, is “new”; the rest have numbers in the titles, or were based on books, comic or otherwise.

I decided to take a look and see if this is a new phenomenon. Below, you’ll find the 10 top-grossing movies for every year since 1990, divided by whether they’re Original or an Adaptation/Remake/Sequel.

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.)

It’s a judgment call. Now let’s solve Hollywood.


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, what did we learn? Of the 100 highest grossers in the 1990s, 42 are Original; for the 2000s, 27; midway through the 2010s, six. Really, the only original, super-successful movies being made now are animated, and even they’re dipping into sequels. Pray that Inside Out makes ALL the money this weekend. The box office is dominated by sequels in particular, and while that’s not always a bad thing, like Furious 7, it’s taking away opportunities for something new, something like The Bodyguard…OK, maybe new movies aren’t always better than part twos and remakes.

Though if today’s films want to start having snappier titles, and not The Hunger Games Episode III: Deathly Hallows and the New Age of Moon, that would be nice.