20 Times Hollywood and Spanish-Language Films Remade Stories

It seems like every other Hollywood movie or American TV show these days is just a remake, reboot, or redo of an older one. Many of these remakes found their inspiration in Spanish-language film and television, using popular stories to tell new ones in English. The trade has gone both ways, with plenty of Latin American directors deciding to put their own cultural spin on American classics.

Here are 20 TV shows and movies that show how Hollywood and Spanish-language films have remade stories from each other.

Ugly Betty

Credit: @primevideochill_es / Instagram

Of course, Ugly Betty tops this list. The show was a beloved Colombian telenovela called Yo Soy Betty, La Fea. It was a smash hit, with dozens of copycats worldwide. The American series ran for four seasons and starred America Ferrera in the title role as Betty, a homely fashion magazine intern.

Vanilla Sky

Credit: @vanillaskymovie / Instagram

This movie’s original is called Abre los Ojos, a Spanish film directed by Alejandro Amenabar. Penelope Cruz played the role of Sofia in both versions of the film, which is part romance and part psychological drama and leaves audiences guessing about what’s true and what’s not.

Elsa and Fred

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Elsa and Fred is a charming movie about two elderly folks who find true love late in life. It’s based on an Argentinian film of the same name and, while the reviews weren’t great, who can truly resist a Shirley MacLaine fairy tale?

Secret In Their Eyes

Credit: @secretintheireyes / Instagram

Hollywood really has a thing for Argentina. This 2015 thriller is a remake of a 2009 Argentinian film of the same name, which tells the story of what happens when a district investigator’s daughter is murdered. Both are based on a novel called La Pregunta de sus Ojos.

You Were Never Lovelier

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Fans of classic film will love this one, which is based on an Argentinian movie called Los Martes, Orquideas. Fred Astaire falls for Rita Hayworth, who has no interest in marrying but whose father will not let her sisters wed until after she takes the plunge. It’s got plenty of song (with Xavier Cugat and company) and dance and is set in the luxury of 1940s Buenos Aires.

Devious Maids

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Devious Maids took Desperate Housewives and dialed up the drama. This American soap-style show starred Eva Longoria and is based on a Mexican show called Ellas son… la Alegria del Hogar. Mystery, ambition, and steamy scenes abound in the hit show.

Jane the Virgin

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American audiences familiar with telenovelas were quick to point out how much Jane the Virgin seemed like one, and they weren’t wrong. The hilarious – and often hilariously melodramatic – show is based on Juana la Virgen, a Venezuelan series.

Chasing Life

Credit: @chasinglifetv / Instagram

Chasing Life follows April, a 24 year old journalist who is diagnosed with leukemia and works to make the best of her life in the wake of the diagnosis. Its original version, which was made in Mexico, is called Terminales.

Queen of the South

Credit: @queenofthesouuth / Instagram

Queen of the South is based on the Telemundo series La Reina del Sur, which is in turn based on Spanish author Arturo Perez-Reverte’s book of the same name. It’s a gritty but femme-focused take on the usual drug lord story, with plenty of strong women to run the show.

My Best Friend’s Wedding

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Fans of 90s rom-coms, rejoice! In April 2018, Sony Pictures International Productions announced that it would be co-producing La Boda de Mi Mejor Amigo in collaboration with Mexican film studios. It’s set in Guadalajara and is sure to feature some mariachi marvels.

50 First Dates

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And you thought Sony was done. The studio recently wrapped production on a Spanish-language version of 50 First Dates, which stars Ximena Romo and Vadhir Derbez (Eugenio’s son) in a remake of the Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore movie. It was filmed largely in the Dominican Republic.


Credit: @overboardmovie / Instagram

This one’s a bit of a cheat, but Eugenio Derbez and Anna Faris are hilarious, so it’s ok, right? The original 1987 version starred Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, but last year’s remake leans in hard to Derbez’s Latin roots. Almost half of the movie is in Spanish, making this feel like a joint win.


Credit: @ihorrorvixen / Instagram

This creepy found-footage horror film was so successful that it got a sequel when it was remade. It’s scored only by sound effects with no music at all, making it all the more realistic and scary. The original, a Spanish film called REC, also uses the found-footage technique.

Silent House

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This indie film stars Elizabeth Olsen and is filmed in such a way that the entire movie looks like it was filmed in a single shot. It’s based on the Uruguayan film La Casa Muda, which is rumored to be based on an actual event that happened in an Uruguayan village in the 1940s.

The Orphanage

Credit: @dr.horrible.phd / Instagram

El Orfanato, a Spanish movie, uses the style of 1970s cinema to tell its scary story about a woman whose dream to refurbish the orphanage in which she grew up goes horribly wrong. The film’s remake rights were purchased in 2007, and in 2011 it was rumored that Amy Adams would play the lead role. Guillermo del Toro, who produced the original, has worked on the script and originally signed on to produce the remake as well.

Breaking Bad

Credit: @schoolinu / Instagram

Breaking Bad was so nice, they made it twice – in almost exactly the same way. Metastasis, which takes place in Bogota, Colombia, is almost a shot-for-shot remake of the hit series. The telenovela-esque version aired in the U.S., Colombia, and Mexico.

Modern Family

Credit: @abcmodernfamily / Instagram

Chile’s version of Modern Family bumped into some cultural barriers while it was being created. Since gay marriage is not legal in the conservative country, Mitchell and Cam’s daughter is the result of a brief fling, and they care for her while her mother is on a long trip. Sofia Vergara’s Gloria, who stands out for her stereotypical Latin characteristics, is now differentiated by her lower social class instead.

Maid in Manhattan

Credit: @photolitzy / Instagram

Nothing tops a J. Lo original, but Telemundo’s Una Maid en Manhattan gives it its all. The series takes some liberties with the story, placing its protagonist in Michoacan before Manhattan with plenty of drama in between.

Married… With Children

Credit: @albundy_33_best / Instagram

Married… With Children has been remade in Latin America not once, but twice! The sitcom has an Argentinian version, which also aired in Uruguay, Paraguay, and Peru, and a Brazilian one, though this version fared worse and was canceled before all 52 episodes could air.

The Nanny

Credit: @_super_jules_ / Instagram

The record for most Spanish-language remakes goes to The Nanny, which originally starred the fabulous Fran Drescher and her iconic laugh as a Queens native who gets a job working for a ritzy family. It’s been remade in Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, and Mexico, with a Spanish-language version also created for Univison and set in Houston.

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Mixe Author Yásnaya Aguilar Says Mexican Government Killed Off Indigenous Languages In Powerful Speech


Mixe Author Yásnaya Aguilar Says Mexican Government Killed Off Indigenous Languages In Powerful Speech

Indigenous languages are often characterized as archaic, a connection to a past life, certainly not thriving cultures and communities that exist in a modern society. But this mentality isn’t just wrong; it’s also dangerous.

In a powerful speech delivered by Mixe author Yásnaya Aguilar to Mexico’s Congress last month, the writer explains that in the country, where indigenous languages are largely viewed as backwards, the state has killed off certain tongues.

“Our languages don’t die out, they’re killed off,” she said. “The Mexican state has erased them with its singular thinking, its [promotion of] a single culture, a single state. It was Mexico that took our Indigenous languages, [Mexico] erases and silences us. Even though the laws have changed, it continues to discriminate against us within its educational, health, and judicial systems.”

According to Aguilar, known for works like “Nosotros sin México: Naciones Indígenas y Autonomía” and “#Ayuujk: ¿Lenguas Útiles y Lenguas Inútiles,” by making Spanish, a language forced on the people of the region five centuries ago by Spain, the most important tongue of the nation, the state has created a culture where language discrimination can flourish.

“Languages are important, but their speakers are even more important,” she added. “Languages die because their speakers are subjected to discrimination and violence.”

For Aguilar, the country would thrive if it recognized the beauty and strengths, rather than challenges, that come with a multicultural society.

“Being Mexican is a legal status, it’s not a cultural status,” she added.

Watch Aguilar’s thoughtful speech in its entirety in the video above.

(h/t Remezcla)

Read: This Latina Is Saving The Indigenous Peruvian Language One Computer Game At A Time

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This Latina Is Saving The Indigenous Peruvian Language One Computer Game At A Time


This Latina Is Saving The Indigenous Peruvian Language One Computer Game At A Time

Peru is a country rich in folklore. From Pachamama, a fertility goddess who sustains life, to Señora de Cao, a warrior queen considered the first female ruler of pre-Hispanic Peru, the South American country is teeming with tales that offer glimpses into the past as well as information and inspiration that could enrich its people’s lives today. Cecilia De La Fuente-Gorbitz doesn’t want these stories, and the cultural knowledge and pride they could induce, to get lost in time, so she started The K’uychi Project.

Launched in 2017, the project, which began as a children’s book, has turned into a multiplatform undertaking that uses technology and didactic materials to teach indigenous Peruvian culture and language.

“I wanted to research Peruvian folktales. I said to myself, ‘kids all over Peru know European folktales like Cinderella and Snow White, yet, in Peru, which has such a rich heritage of these stories, they are virtually unknown,” De La Fuente-Gorbitz, an anthropologist and artist, told FIERCE.

That’s when she started writing “K’uychi and the Awki.” The book, which she plans to self-publish in April, tells the story of K’uychi, a mythical young girl who embarks on a quest to find water after her village has been hit by a drought. On her journey, she meets friendly creatures who guide her to a mountain spirit, the Awki. The bilingual storybook will be available in print with side-by-side text in Quechua and Spanish as well as in digital form in Quechua/Spanish and Spanish/English.

De La Fuente-Gorbitz, who wrote and illustrated the book, also created an accompanying simple-objective, one screen game. Through the K’uychi Mini Game, available on Google Play, users move K’uychi from side to side to help her collect raindrops and avoid Kon, the Peruvian god of rain and wind who became vengeful after humans stopped giving him offerings, from falling on her. During the game, K’uychi says different words in Quechua, like “haylli,” or “bravo,” when she collects a raindrop, or “sonqo,” “heart,” when she gets a red heart. Soon, De La Fuente-Gorbitz, who has computer programming experience, plans on releasing a more advanced, platform game, where the player helps K’uychi complete various levels by using the right Quechua word.

Courtesy of Cecilia De La Fuente-Gorbitz

For the Peruvian-born, New York-based creative, technology, like video games, is both an interactive tool to learn and preserve culture as well as a way to challenge notions that Peruvian traditions are antiquated.

“When people go to Peru, they focus on archaeological sites: museums that show artifacts from so long ago. That’s great, but people need to understand Peruvian culture is not dead, and it doesn’t need to be buried in a museum. It can be a part of the modern world,” she said.

While English is widely considered the language of the modern world, De La Fuente-Gorbitz wants Peruvian youth, many having been taught to abandon the indigenous tongues of their parents or ancestors, to understand that these languages remain spoken throughout South America today. In fact, about 4 million people in Peru speak Quechua, one of the most dominant tongues of the highlands of South America, and about 4 to 8 million more speak the language across the Americas. For her, this is evidence that widely spoken indigenous languages are neither obsolete or outdated.

“Peruvians, even with traditional culture, are also a part of the modern world. We are alive today. People till this day communicate in Quechua, so it’s important to bridge that gap and give a way for these voices that have been isolated from the rest of the world and from people’s eyes through technology,” the 27-year-old said.

De La Fuente-Gorbitz’s primary objective for the project is to offer much-needed representation to Peruvian youth. By sharing little-known parts of their history through characters who look like them and share similar experiences, she hopes it will instill self-confidence and inspire them to fight for the preservation of their culture and language.

“We are a country that for decades, centuries, has been minimized in a way, that has looked out to Europe, or the US more recently, instead of looking at our own national identity and taking pride in it. You can see that in the movies, shows and media we watch,” she said. “And I think that affects people, especially children growing up with images that they are somehow not good enough as they are. They don’t see themselves reflected and are constantly being bombarded with an image they will never be able to attain.”

While the creative started The K’uychi Project for youth in her home country, she believes that it could also benefit children and adults of the Peruvian diaspora. While studying in the United States, De La Fuente-Gorbitz, who is currently interning at the Peruvian embassy in Washington, DC, has noticed that unlike in Latin America, where most people identify by the country they were born in, people in the US, especially Latinxs, don’t often refer to themselves as Americans. Regardless if they were born in the US and only speak English, they largely identify with the nationality of their parents or ancestors, hyphenating themselves as Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans or Colombian-Americans.

For her, this self-identity is a result of diasporic Latinos being othered in their birth country because of the color of their skin, surnames or the cultural practices of their families as well as a disconnection from both the land they know and the faraway one of their predecessors. She believes a project like the one she has created could help them feel more rooted.

“I noticed a lot of Latinos want to understand their roots. They have a real genuine interest to reconnect with the land they or their parents emigrated from, and I feel there’s not that many sources of information for them to do so. So my project could help them feel more pride in themselves, how they look and gain self-confidence, and assert that, ‘I am valuable,’” she said.

She’s already finding proof of its effectiveness. In addition to her book and game, De La Fuente-Gorbitz also has an Instagram account that she uses to teach Quechua through vibrant images that illustrate the meaning of words and share its Spanish and English translations. With terms like “Warmi” (“Woman”), “Puñuy” (“to sleep”) and “Wawa” (“baby”), she is educating followers, many of the Peruvian diaspora, on common vocabulary, numbers and verbs in Quechua. The response, she says, has been all positive, with one fan even telling her that she once felt ashamed for not knowing her ancestors’ native language and now feels like she has an outlet where she is able to relearn and return to what was lost.

De La Fuente-Gorbitz, who herself is not a native Quechua-speaker and has leaned on a friend, Helberth, for translations, says she hopes to expand The K’uychi Project and create bilingual stories, games and language lessons in the indigenous tongues of Peru’s coastal, Amazonian and Andean regions.

For her, linguistic diversity makes us as a people smarter, stronger and more united.

“The way we think, our worldview, has to do with the language we speak. We can learn so many different things and broaden our horizons just by understanding someone else’s point of view, and this wouldn’t be possible if we restrict native language use and restrict people’s identities,” she said.

“K’uychi and the Awki” will be available for purchase in Peru and online spring 2019.

Read: In New Jersey, Rosa Carhuallanqui Keeps Her Culture Alive By Teaching Children Peruvian Folkloric Dance

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