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.
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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.
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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
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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.
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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.
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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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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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
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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.
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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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