5 Movies that Reused the Soundtracks of Other Movies

By  · Published on January 15th, 2015

Spider-Man 2

Everyone likes to cut corners, especially when it’s a job you’ve done a zillion times before. (I’ve tried re-submitting the same lists from a few months ago a bunch of times, but the editors keep noticing.) The same apparently applies to the music part of the movie-making business. It makes sense when you really think about it. 99% of viewers probably never even notice the music anyway. The whole point of movie music is to exist in the background, silently lurking, waiting for its chance to… wait, I’m confusing movie music with Jason Vorhees again. That’s been happening a lot lately. I probably need to see a doctor.

5. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

The second Harry Potter film tried to be more or less a direct continuation of the first. Same director (Chris Columbus), same cast, same Dumbledore… but John Williams, he of Star Wars and Indiana Jones fame, couldn’t make it back for Chamber of Secrets. He wrote a couple of pieces before he backed out.

Columbus then hired a composer named William Ross to finish the soundtrack, but even Ross ran short on time and had to re-use several pieces of music from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. In fact, the film’s quidditch scene includes a section of music from Star Wars: Episode II, which Williams was working on around the same time.

4. The Spider-Man Trilogy

One of the more underrated parts of the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy is the first film’s score. Danny Elfman’s soundtrack is easily one of the greatest superhero movie scores there is, along with John Williams’ Superman (more on that one in a minute), Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard’s Dark Knight trilogy, and Elfman’s own scores for Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns.

But when Danny Elfman angrily opted not to return for the third film (apparently after he couldn’t recycle his own score well enough for the second one), Raimi hired a new composer, Christopher Young. Although Danny Elfman eventually buried the hatchet with Raimi and collaborated with Young on the soundtrack, they still re-used quite a bit of music from the previous two films.

3. Superman II and Superman III

I kind of wonder if it’s possible for John Williams to make a terrible score. If you know of one, feel free to post it in the comments, but I really don’t think he has. And so it was with the score to Superman, which helped make the film the classic it is. So when Williams, once again, couldn’t make it back for the sequel (and it was because of Star Wars this time, too), the studio had to scramble to replace him.

Composer Ken Thorne got the job, which basically wasn’t a job at all, since Superman II completely re-used the first film’s score minus a few songs. Thorne barely got to write any new music for the films until Superman III, when the series got lighter and sillier. Even still, the majority of the music was simply recycled from Superman.

2. Most of the Godzilla movies

Way way back in 1954, the world was introduced to Gojira, the giant monster that lives under the sea and sure does hate Tokyo. It was also introduced to the music of Akira Ifukube, who composed the score for that film, King Kong vs. Godzilla, and several other films, including a barely-related 1958 made-for-TV kaiju film known as Great Monster Varan.

Apparently, someone at Toho loved Great Monster Varan’s score (and Ifukube himself would later admit that it was one of his favorites) because they put most, if not all of it in pretty much every Godzilla movie after that, some of which Ifukube had nothing to do with, on up into the 1990s. To give the recycling another layer, Ifukube’s score for King Kong vs. Godzilla (itself mostly just music from Varan) wasn’t used for the American version and was instead replaced with stock music from other various films.

1. The Godfather

The Godfather. It’s the greatest film of all time (according to like, everyone, and who am I to argue?) and was nominated for ten Academy Awards in 1972, of which it won three. And yet, when the nominees were originally announced, there were 11 nominations for the film. What happened?

A recycled soundtrack happened. Or, at least, a recycled song. Originally, The Godfather was nominated for Best Original Score, but when it came out that Nino Rota had used at least one of his songs from The Godfather in a previous film (1958’s Fortunella), the Academy pulled the nomination and re-voted. The second go-round, The Godfather wasn’t nominated and everyone promptly forgot the controversy. Until now. You’re welcome.

Amusingly enough, The Godfather Part II’s score uses the same song once again and that time the Academy apparently didn’t care. Nino Rota won the Oscar for Best Original Score in 1974. Booya, Hollywood.

For more from Ashe, check out Weird Shit Blog and his book, The Book of Word Records, available now!

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