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Ever gotten the feeling that a new release feels very similar to another film you've already seen elsewhere? Well, you're not the only one - in fact, it happens more often than you may realise. The phenomenon of two near-identical films being released by different studios very close to each other is known as twinning and can come from a number of factors. Sometimes, studios often develop their ideas from similar screenplays (or sometimes even the same one if the writer has been hawking his script around) independently from each other but there can also be other reasons. Industrial sabotage could be the reason behind a studio rushing a film into production in order to beat a rival studio's anticipated release or staff could move from one studio to another and take some of the ideas with them. They could also be in reaction to real-life events such as a natural disaster or a significant historical anniversary or they could just be so-called 'mockbusters' - low budget knock-offs designed to capitalise on the interest on a forthcoming production. Think of anything studio The Asylum have produced and chances are, it's a cheap imitation of another, more popular film recently released.
For this article, I'm looking back at twenty examples of when Hollywood got its wires crossed for whatever reason and judging which film ultimately came out on top. Some of these might not be obvious clones of each other but they all retain a surprising amount of material that crosses over with each. And while it's tempting to think that this is a fairly recent phenomenon, it's a practise that goes back much further than you may realise. For example...
Number 20: 'Jezebel' (1938) vs 'Gone With The Wind' (1939)
While the latter film has achieved a certain cinematic immortality, readers may not be so familiar with the earlier film. Adapted from the 1933 Owen Davis play of the same name, Jezebel stars Bette Davis (no relation) in the role of Julie Marsden, a strong-willed and spoilt Southern belle who ruffles plenty of feathers in her social circle while fighting for the affections of banker Preston Dillard (played by Henry Fonda) and long-time admirer Buck Cantrell (George Brent) before nearly losing both of them for good. Set in the 1850's, the film was allegedly offered to Bette Davis as compensation for missing out on the role of Scarlett O'Hara (whose character and storyline bears some similarity to that of Julie) in Gone With The Wind which was played by Vivian Leigh instead. Winning her a second Best Actress Oscar, the film cemented Bette Davis as a leading lady and proved to be a big hit with audiences as well as critics.
However, it would soon be forgotten by the time Gone With The Wind arrived the following year as it proved to be one of the most successful films of all time - adjusted for inflation, it is still the highest earning film in history. Audiences queued around the block to see the film (giving rise to the term 'blockbuster') and went on to win ten Oscars (two of them honorary). Today, the film remains part of pop culture and its iconic final line of dialogue - "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" - was not only scandalous for the time but remains arguably one of the most popular movie quotes ever.
Here is your winner: Gone With The Wind (KO in the second round)
Number 19: 'Dr Strangelove' (1964) vs 'Fail Safe' (1964)
Another example of a legendary picture overshadowing a potential copycat, the only thing that really separates the two is the fact that 'Dr Strangelove' is a satire while 'Fail Safe' is more of a thriller. Kubrick's Cold War comedy classic was loosely based on Peter George's 1958 novel Red Alert and sees Peter Sellers play three different roles in a story that sees the US and the Soviet Union on the brink of nuclear annihilation. Despite the apocalyptic atmosphere, Kubrick manages to squeeze as much humour out of the material as possible while Sellers' performance as the wheelchair-bound, Nazi scientist has rightfully gone down in history. Ironically, Kubrick himself realised that the film was far too similar to Fail Safe during production and he took extraordinary measures to scupper the rival film's chances.
The Fail Safe movie was based on another book, 1962's Fail-Safe by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler, which was so similar to Red Alert that Kubrick and George filed a lawsuit claiming copyright infringement. The case was ultimately settled out of court but as part of the settlement, the film's distribution was undertaken by Columbia Pictures alongside Dr Strangelove. Kubrick insisted that his film was released first and sure enough, it went on to become one of Kubrick's greatest films and is often hailed as the best political satire of the last century. Fail Safe, for its part, isn't a bad film as such - in fact, it actually achieved decent reviews when it was eventually released - but audiences had already lost their taste for such shenanigans and its box office returns (which were quite underwhelming) had already been undermined by Kubrick's actions.
Here is your winner: Dr Strangelove (KO in the first round)
Number 18: 'Nosferatu the Vampyre' (1979) vs 'Dracula' (1979) vs 'Love At First Bite' (1979)
A triple-threat now as cinema goers in 1979 were treated to a trilogy of bloodsuckers which, obviously, were all based on Bram Stoker's most famous creation to a certain extent. Let's start with Werner Herzog's interpretation, a modern remake of the classic German Expressionist Nosferatu from 1922 which was a blatant knock-off of Stoker's novel. Nosferatu the Vampyre was released first and received a warm response from critics. Herzog's frequent collaborator and everybody's favourite German maniac Klaus Kinski portrays the misshapen vampire beneath plenty of prosthetics designed to resemble the appearance of Max Schreck in the original film and by this time, Herzog could use the proper character names from the book due to the expiration of its copyright.
For the Gothic romance Dracula, Frank Langella donned the count's cape and portrayed a more romanticised version of the character which was loosely inspired by Langella's performance as the character on stage. The cast was a big improvement with heavyweights like Donald Pleasence and Laurence Olivier among the supporting cast and it has a veritable avalanche of style. Critics were divided over the film and audiences were in agreement as the film was only modestly successful at the box office. Lastly, there's Love At First Bite which wasn't even released in cinemas here in the UK. For this campy comedy, perma-tanned George Hamilton plays the classic Count who relocates to New York in the late 1970s - with "hilarious" consequences (quotation marks very much in effect). The film's reviews weren't that great but it's not a bad movie by all accounts and it's the most financially successful of the three. Despite Hamilton's tragic desire to see a sequel as recently as 2009, the film's mediocre reviews mean that it's Herzog's homage to both Stoker's novel and FW Murnau's atmospheric imitation is the one I'd recommend the most.
Winner: Nosferatu the Vampyre (unanimous decision)
Number 17: 'Octopussy' (1983) vs 'Never Say Never Again' (1983)
Even cinema's most regular action hero isn't immune from a little dust-up with a rival. The reasons behind this unlikely match-up lies way back in 1965 with the release of the fourth Bond film, Thunderball. Screenwriter Kevin McClory secured the rights to Ian Fleming's novel following a long legal battle and ultimately decided to make his own Bond film, bringing back original star Sean Connery at the ripe old age of 52. What made things even more interesting is that Never Say Never Again was released to compete with the most recent 'official' Bond film, Octopussy, which had Connery's long-term replacement Roger Moore (who was no spring chicken himself) as 007. Critics and audiences alike were awaiting this Bond battle with a degree of anticipation.
Octopussy was released that summer and typically for Moore's tenure as 007, it was something of a mixed bag. The film's Indian locales and stunt-work were praised but the story was muddled and Moore's ever-apparent age and light-hearted approach to the character was becoming more of an unwanted distraction. However, it did manage to outperform Never Say Never Again at the box office although Moore's films were earning less and less by this point. By contrast, Never Say Never Again was received more positively by critics who were just delighted to see Connery back on screen as Bond for the final time. Obviously, the film is essentially a remake of Thunderball and so fans of the series were disappointed that it didn't have anything new to offer beyond a bizarre sequence where 007 and villain Maximillian Largo battle each other over an extremely crude-looking 3D video game that administers electric shocks to the loser (remember, this was back in 1983). And because it wasn't an official Bond film, it is usually excluded from any collection of Bond films available so it's harder to find than its rival.
Here is your winner: It's a tie! (both combatants couldn't answer a ten count)
Number 16: 'Rambo: First Blood - Part II' (1985) vs 'Commando' (1985)
This shouldn't really come as a surprise as Arnie and Sly have been friendly rivals for most of their careers. In 1985, both of them featured in action films that depicted them as one-man armies waging war of whoever got in their way. Stallone's sequel was a much bloodier and more violent affair than First Blood but audiences didn't care as Rambo: First Blood - Part II became the most recognisable entry in the whole franchise, inspiring countless imitations, video-games, parodies and knock-offs. The same can also be said of Commando, of course - Schwarzenegger's own explosive escapade featuring the unlikely named John Matrix as he blows anything up in an attempt to rescue his daughter. Both films have their fair share of blood, guts, explosions, stunts and one-liners and both leading men get to display their undoubtedly impressive physiques.
Rambo may have won the battle of the box office (convincingly, in fact) but it was Commando that won the war with critics, although neither were reviewed that well. But over time, Commando's reputation seems to have grown and these days, it's over-the-top levels of mayhem and dark humour endear it far more than Stallone's sequel which was dragged down by being overly serious and saddled with political messages. In a sense, both films came to define their future careers - Schwarzenegger became the epitome of a Hollywood superstar, turning his hand to comedy as well as action while Stallone was stuck in a loop of endless sequels and entertaining action films that didn't really stand out from the crowd.
Here is your winner: Commando (ref stoppage in the 10th round)
Number 15: 'K-9' (1989) vs 'Turner & Hooch' (1989)
Again, this does seem kinda obvious although one can only speculate as to how two separate films from different studios ended up featuring a comedic leading man opposite a disruptive dog on the case. K-9 was released in the April of that year and sees Jim Belushi reluctantly teamed up with a destructive and ill-behaved German Shepherd while on the trail of a drugs boss. By contrast, Turner & Hooch sees Tom Hanks team up with a slobbering Bordeaux Mastiff who, get this, is the only witness to a murder. Both films take a very lazy comedic approach to proceedings, mainly involving their canine co-stars causing all sorts of mayhem wherever they go.
Neither film set the box office alight (earning $78 and $71 million respectively) although Turner & Hooch did receive slightly higher praise from critics. Remarkably though, it was K-9 that was followed by a number of sequels including K-911 and K-9: P.I. Granted, both of these went straight-to-video (and the less said about K-9000, the better) but it's more than Turner & Hooch managed other than a couple of TV efforts that ultimately went nowhere. Hard to say much more than that although I still find it staggering that two movies featuring a cop and dog partnership ever made it past the planning stage in the first place.
Here is your winner: Turner & Hooch (split decision)
Number 14: 'Terminal Velocity' (1994) vs 'Drop Zone' (1994)
Honestly, you wait for an action movie based around the theme of skydiving and then two come along at once. Although, anyone hoping for a decent film are probably still waiting. Both films were released within months of each other, both underperformed at the box office and both failed to excite critics enough and t's hardly surprising. Terminal Velocity sees a pre-Tiger Blood Charlie Sheen revert back to serious mode after spoofing himself in the Hot Shots! series to play a rebellious daredevil skydiver teaming up with an undercover KGB agent to stop the Russian mafia making off with a load of stolen gold. Oh and his name is Ditch Brodie which is stupid enough to make him sound like a WWE wrestler. The film failed to recoup its budget and was lambasted by critics who suggested that with a bit more effort, it was silly enough to pass off as another Hot Shots! film.
By contrast, Drop Zone really wasn't much better. Wesley Snipes played the hero this time, a tough cop working alongside a professional skydiver in an effort to track down a rogue computer hacker. The film isn't quite as bad as Terminal Velocity thanks to Snipes' more serious approach to the material and the sneering appearance of Gary Busey. And unlike Terminal Velocity, Drop Zone did better at the box office although critics were still largely unimpressed with the film, noting that the action sequences were enough to make you forget about how dumb the plot was. Picking a winner is difficult because, frankly, I wouldn't recommend either of them. So...
Here is your winner: the concession stand outside the cinema (contest called off due to lack of interest)
Number 13: 'Street Fighter' (1994) vs 'Mortal Kombat' (1995) vs 'Double Dragon' (1994)
By the early Nineties, Hollywood had bitten the video game bug (so to speak) and launched into a number of projects bases around successful games. The first, Super Mario Bros., was a colossal failure and set the tone for this three-way dance between a number of fighting games. Double Dragon was actually the first of these three adaptations to be released in November 1994 and stars Scott Wolf, Mark Dacascos, Robert Patrick and Alyssa Milano in a story about two brothers fighting alongside each to prevent a broken medallion with magic powers being reunited by an evil crime lord. The film is every bit as cheesy as that synopsis suggests and has a pitiful rating on IMDb of 3.8 out of 10. Safe to say, it's worth nobody's time.
Street Fighter, on the other hand, has gone down in history as one of the worst video game adaptations that people have actually seen. Released to much anticipation, the film was the final completed project for Raul Julia and it actually made a respectable amount at the box office - no doubt because the game Street Fighter II was ridiculously popular at the time. The film was stacked with a cast including Julia, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Kylie Minogue, Ming-Na Wen, Simon Callow and Wes Studi but sadly, it couldn't escape being a hammy action film with laughable effects and silly dialogue. While it was equally derided by critics when it was released, Mortal Kombat has since gone on to become something of a surprise cult film. Not only did it make more than its arch rival Street Fighter did but the Christopher Lambert-helmed action film inspired a sequel (which wasn't as good) and even a recent remake in 2021. Crucially, the film pleased the fans of the games even if the ropey dialogue and screenplay didn't and thus, the perception of the film is far better than that of its long-beaten rivals.
Here is your winner: Mortal Kombat (Fatality!)
Number 12: 'Dante's Peak' (1997) vs 'Volcano' (1997)
1997 saw the release of not one but two volcano-themed disaster movies which actually took very different approaches. Dante's Peak was released in February and saw Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton team up to warn a sleepy rural community of imminent danger on their doorstep in the face of Brosnan's sceptical boss. Volcano, by contrast, was a more bombastic affair as Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche team up to warn the city of Los Angeles about a volcano forming beneath the city and threatening to erupt. Both films defied the critics to take more than $100 million each despite a matter of weeks between their release dates but I'm afraid it's not quite as simple as the box office figures suggest.
Dante's Peak was heavily criticised for its witless dialogue and cliched storytelling but the film's effects and relative scientific accuracy won the film some fans and today, it's held in high regard by disaster film fans. Volcano not only took less at the box office (not surprising, given how closely the two films were released) but was also derided for being extremely cheesy and uninspired while the effects were also criticised in some quarters. In truth, neither film is good enough to honestly recommend but if you're looking for a disaster flick with plenty of fiery pyrotechnics and goofy story-telling then Dante's Peak is probably what I'd go for. The rural setting looks nicer on screen than the overly familiar streets of LA, even if some dodgy CG lava is burning everything in its path.
Here is your winner: Dante's Peak (split decision)
Number 11: 'Antz' (1998) vs 'A Bug's Life' (1998)
Following the pioneering success of Pixar's Toy Story, anticipation was rife for their follow-up A Bug's Life in 1998. However, a vicious public rift emerged between DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steve Jobs and John Lasseter at Pixar due to the similarity of Pixar's project and his own, the equally bug-themed Antz. With Disney refusing to back down and accusing DreamWorks of stealing their ideas, the stage was set for both films to clash. Antz was released first and was stacked with a stellar cast of voice actors including Gene Hackman, Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, Christopher Walken, Jennifer Lopez, Anne Bancroft and a less-controversial-at-the-time Woody Allen. The film was a critical and commercial success with critics praising the film's broad appeal, animation, humour and voice cast and audiences helping the film to global takings of more than $171 million.
Two months later, A Bug's Life was released and immediately, the writing was on the wall. With a voice cast made up of TV stars than Hollywood's A-list, the film still managed to win over critics and audiences - the film made more than twice that made by Antz and the film's quality of animation easily won critics over. However, the film has since suffered in reputation and is often described as Pixar's sophomore slump following the runaway success of their debut. The film was possibly damaged by the earlier release of Antz as well as the fact that the film was aimed more at children instead of adults, relying more on sight gags instead of satire and dialogue. It also wasn't helped by Pixar's next release - the much heralded and massively successful Toy Story 2 - which overshadowed A Bug's Life in the long run.
Here is your winner: Antz (points victory)
Number 10: 'Deep Impact' (1998) vs 'Armageddon' (1998)
Another titanic clash occurred in 1998 and the stakes could not have been higher - two films dealing with an asteroid heading straight for Earth and Hollywood's great-and-good hoping to divert the forthcoming extinction of all mankind. In one corner stood Deep Impact, a sci-fi disaster film starring Tea Leoni, Morgan Freeman, Robert Duvall, Elijah Wood, Vanessa Redgrave and James Cromwell. In the other, the big budget action flick Armageddon with Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, Billy Bob Thornton, Steve Buscemi and Moses himself, Charlton Heston narrating the action.
Once again, both films failed to excite the critics much but they did find success at the box office. Deep Impact, which took a more cerebral approach to the impending catastrophe than its rival, took a not-too-shabby $349 million and is generally deemed to be the more scientifically accurate out of the two. But Armageddon blew them away, earning more than $553 million and becoming the biggest film of the year. Michael Bay's explosive action film is a ridiculous exercise in visual effects and action over story-telling, character development, cohesion, nuance and common sense and despite the collaboration with NASA helping to provide actual space shuttles and uniforms for the cast, it is the weaker of the two films. But if you ask anyone to name a film from 1998 that dealt with an asteroid threatening the future of the species, they'll only ever give you one answer. Therefore...
Here is your winner: Armageddon (steward's inquiry pending)
Number 9: 'The Truman Show' (1998) vs 'EDtv' (1999)
In 1998, The Truman Show was released to critical acclaim, box office success and multiple award nominations. The film made Jim Carrey more than just a rubber-faced funny man as Truman Burbank, the unwitting star of the biggest TV show on the planet since birth with his entire life surrounded by a supporting cast of actors, his world contained in an enormous self-contained studio and every aspect of his life dictated by the show's creator, the God-like Christof played wonderfully by Ed Harris. A satirical blend of sci-fi, social commentary, comedy and heart-breaking drama, the film remains one of the most beloved of the Nineties and has even lent its name to a psychological condition, Truman syndrome, where people suffer the delusion that they are living their own lives as a reality TV show.
The following year, a film arrived with an extremely similar premise - EDtv followed the life of everyman Edward Pekurny who volunteered to appear in such a show. While the show is initially a flop, ratings go up when secrets in Ed's personal life and those around him begin to surface. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Jenna Elfman, Ellen DeGeneres, Dennis Hopper and supported by a host of cameos, the film unfortunately suffered greatly in comparison to The Truman Show which may be a tad unfair. But the film simply didn't cover the same points in the same way, turning Peter Weir's fable into a straight-forward comedy which just didn't work. Thank goodness both McConaughey and director Ron Howard recovered after this because EDtv could not have bombed harder if it tried.
Here is your winner: The Truman Show (KO after 15 seconds)
Number 8: 'Sky High' (2005) vs 'Zoom' (2006)
Possibly inspired by the success of The Incredibles in 2004, these two films arrived not too long afterwards and both feature teenagers enrolled into a superhero school to learn how to fight the forces of evil. The first, Sky High, was released the following year and featured Michael Angarano in the lead as the son of former superheroes Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston. To the surprise of some, the film was something of a sleeper hit for Disney with global takings of around $86 million and a generally positive response from critics although the film's lack of originality was hard to disguise. Given the strength of the film, it's perhaps surprising that the House of Mouse haven't followed up on the premise thus far.
When Zoom was released in 2006, however, the bubble had long burst. Starring Tim Allen, Courtney Cox and Chevy Chase, the film was an instant flop with dismal earnings of just $12.5 million (against an estimated budget of $75 million) and a dreaded Razzie nomination for Allen for Worst Actor. Critics savaged the film and compared it negatively to both The Incredibles and Sky High, claiming the film lacked humour and the urgency of the two earlier movies. Maybe this is why Sky High never truly achieved the recognition it deserved, brought down by a third family-of-superheroes film in just two years that undermined the entire premise and dried up any enthusiasm from the audience.
Here is your winner: Sky High (KO in the fourth round)
Number 7: 'Capote' (2005) vs 'Infamous' (2006)
In 2005, Capote told the story of American author Truman Capote's efforts to write his nonfiction book In Cold Blood about a number of murders in 1959 in a rural community in Kansas. Largely based on Gerald Clarke's biography of the author, the film starred Philip Seymour Hoffman in the title role to huge critical acclaim and secured the actor the Academy Award for Best Actor. The film was also nominated for Best Picture and several other awards and was also a modest success at the box office. Unfortunately, this set the bar impossibly high for Infamous - another Capote biopic, this time based on a book by George Plimpton and starring Toby Jones in the lead role.
Released in 2006, the film simply couldn't compete with the success of Capote despite a cast that included Sandra Bullock, Daniel Craig, Jeff Daniels, Lee Pace, Isabella Rossillini and Sigourney Weaver. Critics were still impressed by the film, which offered a different perspective on Capote's story and his work and with an equally impressive performance by Jones. The consensus is that Infamous is in no way a bad film but it's just not as good as Capote and simply had the misfortune to come along after the achievements set by Hoffman's blistering portrayal of the author.
Here is your winner: Capote (unanimous points victory)
Number 6: 'The Prestige' (2006) vs 'The Illusionist' (2006)
2006 also saw the release of two films set in the 1890s and dealt with stage magicians using their skills outside of their stage show. The Prestige was Christopher Nolan's follow-up to his breathtaking Batman Begins and follows two rival magicians engaging in a battle of wits to produce the most amazing illusion on stage - with tragic consequences. By contrast, The Illusionist saw Edward Norton give one of the performances of his career as Eisenheim, a magician in turn-of-the-century Vienna attempting to reunite with a past love while embroiled in a scandalous murder mystery. Story-wise, both films are very different and this may be why some didn't quite pick up on the similarities between the two but really, how many other films can you think of dealing with such an unusual setting or characters?
Both films impressed critics and audiences alike, both made a decent amount at the box office and both films earned Academy Award nominations though they also both lost. In truth, there isn't much to gain from ranking one above the other as they are both excellent films in their own right. The Illusionist has Norton in top form plus supporting turns from the always watchable Paul Giamatti, Jessica Biel and Rufus Sewell and is well worth a watch. As for its rival, The Prestige suffers from having to be a Christopher Nolan film (meaning that standards are extraordinarily high - at the time of writing, Tenet is his lowest ranked film on IMDb and I loved that film) but is still considered to a highly enjoyable psychological thriller, if a bit niche for most audiences. Still, at least he returned to Batman with the billion-dollar juggernaut that was The Dark Knight after this...
Here is your winner: You, the viewer (tie)
Number 5: 'Happy Feet' (2006) vs 'Surf's Up' (2007)
Penguins were big business in the mid-2000s. Following the unexpected success of 2005 documentary March of the Penguins, they appeared again the following year in musical CG animation Happy Feet. Set in their native Antarctica, the film follows Mumble who is unable to sing to attract a mate but has extraordinary dancing skills instead. Together with an all-star cast, the film is essentially a jukebox musical with environmental messages included but is actually far better than you may think. It has an infectious energy to it and the ever-enjoyable Robin Williams feel-styling his way through a number of roles to great comic effect. In short, it's a hard film to dislike.
The same can almost be said for Surf's Up, a film so derivative of Happy Feet that I was convinced it was a sequel until I actually watched it. This 2007 comedy has a fourth-wall-breaking mockumentary feel to it and features a number of penguins and other animals taking part in a surfing competition. Specifically, the film follows young rockhopper Cody (voiced by Shia LaBeouf) as he uncovers the hidden secrets behind what makes a great surfer. The film feels different enough to stand out on its own but the look and story feel far too similar to what we'd already seen and I didn't find it especially funny either. It has its moments for sure but I personally thought it was more of a wipe out than Happy Feet was. Or maybe audiences were just fed up of seeing penguins on screen...
Here is your winner: Happy Feet (ref stoppage in the fifth)
Number 4: 'Despicable Me' (2010) vs 'Megamind' (2010)
The evil machinations of a criminal mastermind may seem like unlikely ground for a family comedy but we had two to choose from in 2010. The first to be released was Despicable Me, introducing the manical genius Gru and his ever-expanding horde of minions as he is thrown into a battle of wits with a younger, nerdier rival as well a trio of orphaned girls who unexpectedly melt his heart... well, a little bit. Visually, the animation feels a little dated but the fantastic screenplay, wonderful performance by Steve Carrell as Gru and the always watchable comedy provided by the Minions (who would eventually escape into their own franchise) makes the film a great watch for viewers young and old. It easily won over critics and made an astonishing amount of money, leading to sequels and spin-offs as well as near-limitless merchandise opportunities.
Feel sorry, then, for the luckless Megamind which was released that autumn. This film also focuses on an evil genius, the titular Megamind, who builds himself a new arch-nemesis after finally vanquishing his old one. Starring the vocal talents of Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, Tina Fey and Jonah Hill, the film had everything going for it except timing. The animation was solid and the cast were great but it simply felt far too similar to both Despicable Me and The Incredibles and paled in comparison. But when it costs twice as much to make and only earns roughly 60% of what Despicable Me took, there was only ever going to be one winner here. One critic at the time openly asked "Do we really need Megamind when Despicable Me is around?"
Here is your winner: Despicable Me (KO in the second round)
Number 3: 'No Strings Attached' (2011) vs 'Friends With Benefits' (2011)
With romantic comedies, there is often a dearth of originality anyway but these two films couldn't be more identical if they tried. Both films feature a young and attractive couple of friends who insist that having sex will in no way interfere with their relationship, only to find that it actually does. No Strings Attached (which was original titled Friends With Benefits until they learnt that title had already been taken) puts Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher on a raunchy collision course which, in true rom-com fashion, never really manages to feel like anything other than cinematic filler. It made a fair amount at the box office but the film's story was criticised for being too heavy-handed and Portman's performance felt unnatural which some commenting that it felt like she was in deleted scenes from Black Swan instead of enjoying herself.
The only real difference between that film and Friends With Benefits is the casting of Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake in the lead roles instead of Portman and Kutcher. They even took the same amount at the box office, give or take the odd hundred thousand dollars or so ($149 million) which is uncanny. However, the latter film did at least manage to generate some chemistry between the two leads and critics were broadly pleased with the film. Writer and director Will Gluck even discussed the similarity between his film and No Strings Attached, expressing frustration that people assumed he was simply remaking the earlier film and said "I wish there was more space between them."
Here is your winner: Friends With Benefits (points victory)
Number 2: 'Olympus Has Fallen' (2013) vs 'White House Down' (2013)
Chances are, you remember this particular clash. Both films, released within the same year, dealt with a massive terrorist attack on the White House and featured a lone hero rescuing the President of the United States before turning the tables on those pesky bad guys. Yes, both of these films are as ridiculous and bombastic as they come - the dumbest action films since that time the President himself fought them off on Air Farce One - but only of them went on to produce sequels. Olympus Has Fallen saw Gerard Butler in the John McClane role, rescuing President Aaron Eckhart from Korean terrorists that somehow managed to blast half of Washington into next week via an enormous helicopter gunship. Full of bloody action and explosive action scenes, the film received a mixed reception from critics but still took a healthy $170 million - an amount that led producers to create a whole series of films to tie Butler to the role of the best damned Presidential Protection Agency employee ever seen.
Ronald Emmerich's career has seen a veritable tsunami of big budget, explosive disaster films like Independence Day and Godzilla so you can imagine the sort of chaos he would bring to a tale like this. White House Down is basically the same film as Olympus Has Fallen, this time replacing the aforementioned actors with Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx. Unfortunately, this wasn't deemed that much of an improvement as the film produced the same mixed response from critics as the earlier film did. White House Down did at least make more money than its predecessor (only about $30 million more) but cost a whole heckuva lot more to make, meaning that any idea for a sequel would have been shot down in flames by a reluctant studio.
Frankly, I'd stick with Die Hard...
Here is your winner: Olympus Has Fallen (points victory)
Number 1: 'Churchill' (2017) vs 'Darkest Hour' (2017)
In the post-Brexit referendum in the UK, two films emerged that harked back to that classic hero of the British - wartime leader Winston Churchill. Both of them also featured some heavyweight acting by some of our leading thesps. Brian Cox took on the role for Churchill which examined the man's apprehension regarding the forthcoming Normandy landings in 1944, believing them to be a prelude to disaster for the British. By contrast, the film Darkest Hour looks back at Winston's rise to the position of Prime Minister during the war, his unpopularity among his many opponents and his stubborn refusal to negotiate with the Nazis to secure a peace settlement. Gary Oldman, under some heavy makeup, played Churchill and delivered an equally brilliant performance - one that helped him finally win a Best Actor award from the Academy.
Possibly on the back of this success, Darkest Hour became a hit at the box office with global takings of $150 million and far exceeding that of poor Churchill. Darkest Hour is also seen as being the more historically accurate of the two although I personally felt that it displayed a more jingoistic vision of Churchill's time in office than necessary. Oldman's portrayal is closer to the popular-but-romanticised myth of the man whereas Cox's interpretation is of a man damaged by his long experience with conflict and the terrible price paid for the freedoms we enjoy today. Darkest Hour wasn't even affected by Dunkirk, Christopher Nolan's film examining the planning of the evacuation at Dunkirk that helped turn the tide in the conflict.
Here is your winner: Darkest Hour (ref stoppage in the second round)
© 2022 Benjamin Cox