“Downhill,” opening this week, is a remake of the critically acclaimed Swedish film “Force Majeure”
The Swedish film “Force Majeure” was a critically acclaimed darling but not exactly a box office hit. So there was an opportunity to take the film’s black humor and install the American charms of Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell to see how it might fare commercially in “Downhill,” opening this weekend. But surprisingly, even box office hits abroad don’t always translate when remade with American actors, and the ones that do rarely resemble their original inspiration. Here are the highest-grossing American remakes of foreign films (all domestic box office figures via Box Office Mojo).
15. Nine Months (1995) – $69.6 Million France, “Neuf mois” (1994) This much-loved Hugh Grant and Julianne Moore rom-com about pregnancy started as a French romantic comedy called “Neuf mois,” but it was the remake that took off in America and abroad, grossing $138 million worldwide.
14. “Dinner for Schmucks” (2010) – $73.0 Million France, “Le Diner de Cons” (1998) The snappy French comedy “Le Diner de Cons,” or “The Dinner Game,” made over $4 million at the domestic box office after releasing in France back in 1998, spawning this less-critically successful remake from Jay Roach starring Paul Rudd and Steve Carell.
13. “Eight Below” (2006) – $81.6 Million Japan, “Antarctica” (1983) Both “Antarctica” and “Eight Below” were big box office hits. How could a survival story about eight huskies not be? But while “Eight Below” is a Disney-fied and whitewashed version of the story, the Japanese film hews closer to a real-life ill-fated rescue mission from the ’50s. “Antarctica” also held the box office record in Japan until the release of “Princess Mononoke” in 1997.
12. “Vanilla Sky” (2001) – $100.6 Million Spain, “Abre Los Ojos” (1997) Cameron Crowe directed Tom Cruise in the American remake of Alejandro Amenabar’s “Abre Los Ojos,” about a handsome and vain man who suffers an accident that disfigures his face. Crowe’s version follows Amenabar’s closely but makes a significant change to the ending that polarized some critics and audiences.
11. “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” (2011) – $102.5 Million Sweden, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” (2009) While technically an American version of Stieg Larsson’s book, the success of David Fincher’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” owes a lot to the overseas success of the Swedish adaptation of the book. The Swedish version grossed over $10 million in America and over $100 million worldwide. And the film’s star, Noomi Rapace, set the stage for screen versions of Lisbeth Salander, further using it as a launching pad for her own English-language acting career.
10. “The Italian Job” (2003) – $106.1 Million Britain, “The Italian Job” (1969) Mark Wahlberg might not be Michael Caine, but F. Gary Gray’s retro caper of the classic British heist movie was a box office hit and helped put Mini Coopers back on the map stateside.
9. “The Upside” (2019) France, “The Intouchables” (2011) Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart starred in this sweet remake of “The Intouchables,” a movie that made so much money in France that it became a cultural event. After earning $166 million in France, the country’s second-highest-grossing film ever, and over $426 million worldwide, an American remake of the film was inevitable, and it proved bankable as well. It made $108.2 million domestic but only did modestly overseas for a worldwide total of $125.8 million.
8. The Grudge (2004) – $110.3 Million Japan, “Ju-On: The Grudge” (2002) “The Grudge,” like “The Ring,” was part of a wave of Japanese horror remakes from the early 2000s and also spawned several other American horror sequels. As of 2020, even the American remake now got its own remake, though that one sputtered at the box office in comparison.
7. “The Birdcage” (1996) – $124.0 Million France, “La Cage aux Folles” (1978) Mike Nichols’ “The Birdcage” isn’t just a remake of a foreign film, it’s also an adaptation of a long-running French play. Both film and play are titled “La Cage aux Folles,” and the French film adaptation was nominated for three Oscars following its release in 1978.
6. “The Ring” (2002) – $129.1 Million Japan, “Ringu” (1998) The American version of “The Ring” remains the highest-grossing horror remake of all time, and it was so wildly successful that it spawned a whirl of other American remakes of Japanese horror films, including “The Grudge,” “Pulse,” “The Eye,” “Shutters,” “Mirror” and more, all within a few years of each other.
5. “The Departed” (2006) – $132 Million Hong Kong, “Infernal Affairs,” (2002) Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed” is so intrinsically tied to Boston cops and gangsters that it’s hard to remember that the film’s twisty story of moles and double crossing originated in Hong Kong as “Infernal Affairs,” which itself spawned several sequels abroad. And while the film’s critical acclaim in Japan was impressive, it was Scorsese’s film that won the Oscar for Best Picture. Also Read: ‘Cowboy Bebop': Live-Action Remake of Acclaimed Anime Series Lands at Netflix
4. “Godzilla” (1998) – $136.3 million Japan, “Godzilla” (1954) Roland Emmerich’s “Godzilla” starring Matthew Broderick wasn’t a hit with critics, but it did stomp all over the box office in 1998, becoming the 9th-highest-grossing film of the year.
3. “True Lies” (1994) – $146.2 Million France, “La Totale!” (1991) The French “La Totale!” is firmly a comedy and performed modestly at the French box office, but James Cameron made it his own when he cast Arnold Schwarzenegger in his tongue-in-cheek action blockbuster.
2. “3 Men and a Baby” (1987) – $167.7 Million France, “3 Hommes et un couffin” (1985) Made on a midsize budget and starring the most ’80s cast of Tom Selleck, Steve Guttenberg and Ted Danson as three bachelors watching over a baby, “3 Men and a Baby” was a surprise comedy hit as the top grossing movie of 1987. But its French predecessor was likewise a success, earning an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language film in 1986.
1. “Godzilla” (2014) – $200.6 Million Japan, “Godzilla” (1954) “Godzilla” has had so many remakes and sequels over the years, but Gareth Edwards’ film gets closer to the melancholy of Ishiro Honda’s original monster movie than ever before.
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