Sometimes movie studios are hit with competitive but healthy problems: two thematically similar films racing for distribution. Sometimes by sheer coincidence and sometimes answering to cultural demand, film studios can find themselves racing to release films that share eerie similarities.
Usually, one wins out over the other.
We’ve highlighted some of the strangest cases of ‘Twin Films’ that are released within a year of each other. These films share similar plots and themes but had completely different creative and financial leads. Which ones did you prefer?
Shark Tale vs. Finding Nemo (2003 and 2004)
Pixar and Dreamworks have gone head to head a few times, as you’ll find out. This time, there was a year between their films that both shared striking similarities. Finding Nemo and Shark Tale are computer animated movies that are set underwater, centered around fish characters.
Shark Tale made an impressive $367 million, but it was nothing compared to Nemo’s amazing $970 million – a crazy amount at the time. Their critical reception was also a big difference: 99% vs. 35%. Ouch. A sequel, Finding Dory, was released in 2016.
Gone In 60 Seconds vs. The Fast And Furious (2000 and 2001)
Gone In 60 Seconds starred Nicholas Cage and Angelina Jolie as two thieves who have to steal cars. Despite receiving mainly negative reviews, the film was a financial success making $237 million.
The following year, the world welcomed The Fast and Furious – another car heist film – which was not as financially successful. However, it has since grown to become one of Hollywood’s most successful franchises in history, making more than $5 billion from eight films.
Fyre vs. Fyre Fraud (Both 2019)
It only took a few weeks until 2019 welcomed a set of twin films. This time, it was two streaming services – Netflix and Hulu – that went head-to-head to tell the story of the infamous Fyre Festival in 2017. The festival scammed innocent festival-goers and investors out of millions of dollars.
Streaming services don’t release viewing information so it’s impossible to tell which one was more successful. Judging by some of the reviews online, it appears that Netflix’s version was more widely praised. It also led the online conversation in Google Trends.
Freddy vs. Jason vs. Alien vs. Predator (2003 and 2004)
Nostalgia overload! Both of these movies feature icons from 1980s horror films fighting against each other, all the while catching humans in the middle. New Line Cinema and 20th Century Fox went head-to-head as studios waited to find out who audience members preferred.
Box office numbers were fairly similar, but Alien vs. Predator had a sequel and fit itself into the Alien lore neatly for years to come. Which villain is your favorite?
Top Gun vs. Iron Eagle (Both 1986)
In the 1980s, America was in the middle of full-blown patriotism. It was on full display with these 1986 classics, Top Gun and Iron Eagle. Both center around fighter pilots in the military. They starred Tom Cruise and Louis Gossett Jr.
Unsurprisingly, it was Top Gun that won audiences’ hearts and minds. It made a whopping $356 million, whereas Iron Eagle barely made a splash with $18 million. 30 years later, audiences still enjoy Top Gun – and a sequel is in the works.
Batman vs. Superman vs. Captain America: Civil War (Both 2016)
These films were only released six weeks apart and saw two superhero competitors come face to face. Both films had superheroes coming within
The fight wasn’t kept within each individual film: they both represented the fight between DC Comics and Warner Brothers vs. Marvel and Disney. Amazingly, fans and critics preferred watching Captain America and Iron Man to Batman and Superman – something unimaginable only 10 years ago.
Robin Hood vs. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (Both 1991)
Both iterations of the Robin Hood folklore came to the big screen in 1991, starring Kevin Costner and Patrick Bergin respectively. Due to the clash, Bergin’s interpretation of the character was reserved for US television screens and Costner’s version became the definitive Hood of the 1990s.
Did you see both versions, and which one did you prefer? Critics agreed the Costner version was more enjoyable. What did you think?
The Emperor’s New Groove vs.
The Road To El Dorado (Both 2000)
Both of these animated films were released at the turn of the century and are set in what is now Latin America. Dreamworks and Walt Disney Feature Animation went head-to-head again with their buddy comedies exploring Aztec themes and settings.
Unfortunately for Dreamworks, they would lose out again only making $76 million compared to Disney’s $169 million. Critics agreed: giving the former film a 48% score vs. 85%.
The Wild vs. Madagascar (2005 and 2006)
Whereas Madagascar became a huge franchise, The Wild appeared to vanish without a trace. Both of these films were based on animals from New York’s Central Park Zoo who escape and experience life in the wild.
Amazingly, it was the Dreamworks production that won out to Disney this time around, and many considered Madascar the superior film. Both made a profit, but The Wild would leave little impact soon after its release the following year.
The Thomas Crown Affair vs. Entrapment (Both 1999)
Both of these films explore a relationship between a female insurance investigator and male art thief who work together to steal a piece of art. Coincidentally, they both starred Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan – both of who have played James Bond.
Entrapment, which starred Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones won the box office race, taking in more than double what The Thomas Crown Affair made. A win for 20th Century Fox, and a loss for MGM.
Antz vs. A Bug’s Life (Both 1998)
What are the chances that two animation studios would make a film about ants in the same year? In 1998, audiences had to choose between Pixar’s A Bug’s Life and Dreamworks’ Antz.
Both films are computer-animated adventures about a non-conformist ant who falls in love with a princess and leaves the mound – only to return. It turns out children found the bright colors of Pixar more enticing, and A Bug’s Life made double at the box office – an impressive $360 million.
Cop Out vs. The Other Guys (Both 2010)
These ‘buddy cop comedies’ were released in the same year, marking the first time Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg would partner up! Cop Out starred Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan as two veteran NYPD partners, whereas The Other Guys had Ferrell and Wahlberg star as accountants and trigger-happy cops.
The Other Guys was a bigger financial and critical hit, earning $170 million and 78% on Rotten Tomatoes. Cop Out was director Keven James’ biggest hit but failed to make a profit.
The Truman Show vs. Ed TV (1998 and 1999)
As we approached the end of the 20th century, it appears we were already becoming obsessed with media! The Truman Show and Ed TV are both films about a man whose life is televised 24 hours a day.
The major difference is that Jim Carrey’s Truman was unaware, whereas Matthew McConaughy was inspired to do it. Ed TV didn’t make so much of a splash upon its release, but The Truman Show is still considered one of the greatest films ever made, 21 years later.
Capote vs. Infamous (Both 2006)
These movies are real-life stories of Truman Capote and how he was investigated for the murder of a Kansas family. The Philip Seymour Hoffman version made $49 million vs. Toby Jones’ modest $2.6 million.
Apparently, when the writer of Infamous called his producer about finishing his new script, producer Bingham Ray replied ‘I know, I have it on my desk’. They were talking about different films! Coincidentally, two screenwriters chose to write about this topic in the same year.
Armageddon vs. Deep Impact (Both 1998)
Two films about a comet and/or astroid hitting Earth also hit cinemas – only two months apart! Deep Impact made an impressive $349 million, but was no competition for Armageddon, which soared to the top of the box office with $553 million.
It goes to show the power of star power. Bruce Willis was at the peak of his career in the late
Volcano vs. Dante’s Peak (Both 1997)
Another twin film starring former James Bond Pierce Brosnan, both these tales explore the eruption that will threaten the lives of locals. Brosnan starred alongside Linda Hamilton, and they both battled against Tommy Lee Jones and Don Cheadle.
Both were moderate successes, with Volcano making $122 million and earning just a bit less than Dante’s Peak with $178 million. At the time, Brosnan was Bond and so perhaps that caused higher audience interest.
Red Planet vs. Mission To Mars (Both 2000)
Both of these sci-fi films saw expeditions to Mars. The first made its money back at the box office, whereas Red Planet was considered a failure for Warner Brothers.
Both are set in the future and focus on the relationships of astronauts who venture into space and bond on the way to the ‘red planet’. Unfortunately, Mission To Mars and Red Planet were both considered critical and financial failures, which is why Hollywood hasn’t taken us to Mars since.
Megamind vs. Despicable Me (Both 2010)
Megamind is by no means a bad film, but it lost out to the wildly popular Despicable Me. Both of these 2010 hits are animated features that focus on supervillains who are convinced to join the ‘good guys’ and defeat a larger villain.
Both made more than $321 million at the box office but it was Illumination that would win out against Dreamworks. To date, Despicable Me has two successful sequels and even more spin-offs, whereas Megamind has been largely forgotten.
After Earth vs. Oblivion (Both 2013)
Both of these films were based on a protagonist who had to figh for survival on a post-apocalytic Earth. They starred two of Hollywood’s biggest stars – Will Smith and Tom Cruise – but only one would be a success.
Whereas Oblivion made a splash with $286 million and a 53% Rotten Tomatoes score After Earth was doomed for failure. It actually did ok at the box office, but its 11% score affected the credibility and careers of its stars and director, M. Night Shyamalan.
Bicentennial Man vs. AI: Artificial Intelligence (1999 and 2001)
These films have a relatively large gap in their release dates (technically different millennia!) but it doesn’t stop them from sharing striking similarities. Both are sci-fi films that explore the theme of humanoid robots seeking to experience emotion and transition from robot to human.
The former starred Robin Williams and the latter Haley Joel Osment, directed by Steven Spielberg. Bicentennial Man and AI both had $100 million budgets but AI made more money overall.
Olympus Has Fallen vs. White House Down (Both 2013)
Both of these are action films that focus on terror attacks on The White House. Even though White House Down made $205 million against the other’s $170 million, they both scored 48% and 50% on Rotten Tomatoes!
Since Olympus Has Fallen was made with half the budget, its sequel London Has Fallen was released in 2016. The third in the trilogy, Angel Has Fallen, will be released sometime in 2019. White House Down is fairly forgotten in film history today.
Mirror Mirror vs. Snow White & the Huntsman (Both 2012)
These two films both focused on stories surrounding Snow White and the classic tale. Julia Roberts starred as the evil sorceress in this remake, whereas Chris Hemsworth stared as one of the huntsmen in more of a fantasy and action retelling.
Observe and Report vs. Mall Cop (Both 2009)
The world loves dumb cop movies – and Seth Rogan and Kevin James know it. Both of these comedies are about a sterotypically overweight mall cop and their adventures. Weirdly, the Warner Brothers’ Observe and Report was considered a flop with $27 million, and Kevin James would win.
His Happy Madison/Columbia Pictures Mall Cop made a massive $183 million – earning itself a sequel in 2015. Seth Rogan would become a star in his own right, whereas James is largely in the background these days.
Friends With Benefits vs. No Strings Attached (Both 2011)
Both films focused on two friends who had casual, non-romantic sexual relationships with each other before ultimately falling in love. Strangely, No Strings Attached had the working title Friends With Benefits before they changed it.
Bizarrely, they both made $149.5 million and $150 million at the box office, although Friends With Benefits scored higher on Rotten Tomatoes – 69% vs. 49%. The stars from both films – Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis – eventually married after being friends.
Scary Movie vs. Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday The 13th (Both 2000)
2000 saw the backlash begin on horror films from the 1980s and 1990s. Both of these horror spoofs were released at a time where audiences were getting bored of conventional horror films.
Of course, Scary Movie went on to have four sequels spanning 15 years, whereas Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday The 13th vanished without much of a noise. Not even big stars like Coolio could save it at the box office.
Babe vs. Gordy (Both 1995)
Babe and Gordy are both family films about piglets, which is apparently exactly what 1995 needed. Whereas Babe was based on The Sheep-Pig by author Dick King-Smith, Gordy was a modest and original film financed by Miramax.
One was set on an English farm and the other was sensationalized in the United States. The box office results couldn’t be more different: $3.9 million vs. $254.7 million. I’ll let you guess which one made more money!
The Cave vs. The Descent (Both 2005)
These horror films were both set in cave systems where the human visitors were faced with deadly creatures. Amazingly, The Descent made $57 million on a $3 million budget – which is significantly better than The Cave.
Unfortunately for the latter, it made just $33 million against a $30 million budget. It appears that The Descent was more successful – leading to a sequel in 2009. Both films were fairly modest in their production and distribution, with no major actors cast in either.
Chasing Liberty vs. First Daughter (Both 2004)
Both these films are romantic comedies about a rebellious daughter of the President of the United States. They starred Mandy Moore and Katie Holmes respectively and shared many of the same plot points urrounding dating and crazy adventures.
Both were financial flops: They both made $10 million and $12 million – barely getting half their money back. It’s worth noting that this was an election year, so perhaps that’s what affected turn out?
Stealing Harvard vs. Orange County (Both 2002)
Stealing Harvard and Orange County are both comedies that focus on someone resorting to drastic measures to gain acceptance into a prestigious college. They starred Jason Lee and Tom Green, opposite Colin Hanks and Jack Black.
Whereas Orange County made a moderate amount of money – $43 million – Stealing Harvard was a box office bomb. It made half of its money back and never quite picked up an afterlife on VHS.
The Prestige vs. The Illusionist (Both 2006)
The Prestige and The Illusionist are both films about 19th-century magicians and their lives. Whereas The Illusionist was more of a romantic mystery film, The Prestige was more of a psychological thriller – thus attracting different audiences.
The latter beat the former in the box office, making $109 million vs. $87 million. They starred Hollywood names such as Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale, vs. Edward Norton and Jessica Biel. Did you catch one of these in theaters?
Turner & Hooch vs. K-9 – 1989
Both of these police films focus on human officers who get a dog for a partner. They both earned $71 million and $78 million respectively, but it was Tom Hanks’ outing that lasted in the nostalgic minds of audience goers.
K-9 received a negative score of 22%, whereas Turner & Hooch earned somewhat of a legacy. It is often mentioned in pop culture references and has become more popular after Hanks became more famous. There are no plans for a sequel.