25 Movies With Similar Plots Released the Same Year

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Though Hollywood studios develop films separately, sometimes movies that are eerily similar will be released in the same calendar year. 

1. and 2. Deep Impact (released May 8, 1998) // Armageddon (released July 1, 1998)

During the summer of 1998, Dreamworks and Touchstone Pictures released two rival asteroid disaster movies: Deep Impact and Armageddon, respectively. One movie showed how families and modern civilization would be affected by an asteroid collision, while the other was a loud, action-packed thrill ride from director Michael Bay. Although astronomers called Deep Impact more scientifically accurate, Armageddon was selected to be in the prestigious Criterion Collection, which is reserved for (in their own words) "important classic and contemporary films."

3. and 4. Olympus Has Fallen (released March 22, 2013) // White House Down (released June 28, 2013)

In 2013, two different movie studios released two different films about terrorist groups invading and taking over the White House. Released in March 2013, Olympus Has Fallen featured Aaron Eckhart has the captured president with Gerard Butler as the Secret Service agent who re-captures the White House and saves him from certain doom. That year's other save-the-prez effort, White House Down, featured Jamie Foxx as the president with Channing Tatum in the role of a Secret Service hopeful tasked with keeping him safe. Although White House Down had a wider summer release, Olympus Has Fallen saw higher box office returns.

5. and 6. Dante’s Peak (released February 7, 1997) // Volcano (released April 25, 1997)

In 1997, Universal Pictures' volcano thriller Dante’s Peak raked in an impressive $178.1 million at the box office worldwide. A few months later, Twentieth Century Fox released Volcano which also featured—you guessed it—a volcano. That flick grossed $122.8 million internationally, proving that the country's thirst for seeing mountains go boom can't be satiated with just one movie.

7. and 8. Gordy (released: May 12, 1995) // Babe (released: August 4, 1995)

Believe it or not, in 1995 two talking-pig movies competed for family box office dollars. In May, Miramax released Gordy, which followed the adventures of a pig trying to find his family after they were taken away to be slaughtered. A few months later, Universal released Babe, which revolved around a sheep-herding pig. Babe blew Gordy out of the water: It earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture and Best Director, beat out Apollo 13 for the Best Visual Effects Oscar, and would eventually spawn a sequel, Babe: Pig in the City. The world is still waiting for a Gordy sequel. 

9. and 10. Saving Private Ryan (released: July 24, 1998) // The Thin Red Line (released: December 23, 1998)

For the 71st Academy Awards, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominated two World War II films for Best Picture and Best Director. While Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan followed the invasion of Normandy on Omaha Beach and the war's Atlantic Theater, Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line focused on the Battle of Guadalcanal in the South Pacific. Neither took home the Best Picture Oscar—that went to Shakespeare in Love—but Spielberg wound up winning Best Director.

11. and 12. Chasing Liberty (released January 9, 2004) // First Daughter (released September 24, 2004)

In 2004, Warner Bros. released the Mandy Moore vehicle Chasing Liberty, which told the story of the President of the United States’ 18-year-old daughter and her misadventures overseas. Later in that election year, First Daughter opened in theaters with Katie Holmes in the lead role. Turns out two movies about the president's progeny were two too many: Both films flopped big at the box office.

13. and 14. Mission to Mars (released March 10, 2000) // Red Planet (released November 10, 2000)

Disney's 2000 release Mission to Mars was based off of a Tomorrowland ride that had closed in the early '90s. Still, Disney felt that a film adaptation could be profitable based on the success of the 1997 made-for-TV movie inspired by the Tower of Terror ride. They were somewhat redeemed, as Mission to Mars proved to be a moderate success. However, the other Martian movie from released that year, Red Planet, was an outright bomb. Its first-time director, Antony Hoffman, never directed a major motion picture again. Maybe he should pitch something around It's a Small World.

15. and 16. Mirror, Mirror (released March 30, 2012) // Snow White and the Huntsman (released June 1, 2012)

The iconic Snow White fairy tale saw two live-action movie adaptations in theaters back-to-back. The first, Mirror, Mirror, was from the visionary Indian director Tarsem Singh.The other was Snow White and the Huntsman, from first-time director Rupert Sanders, which took a dark and gritty approach to the Brothers Grimm fairy tale. The latter benefited from the cheating scandal between star Kristin Stewart and Sanders, which dominated the tabloids around the movie's release and spurred it to a $396.5 million worldwide box office return.

17. and 18. No Strings Attached (released January 21, 2011) // Friends with Benefits (released July 22, 2011)

Warning: This might get confusing. In 2011, Paramount Pictures and Screen Gems released two rival movies about casual sex. The first was released in January and was originally titled Friends with Benefits, but was then renamed No Strings Attached after director Ivan Reitman and screenwriter Elizabeth Meriwether learned a similar movie with the exact same title was going to be released later in the year. In July, that film was released and boasted a similar plot featuring two friends having casual sex and later falling in love. Appropriately, both films experienced similar box office returns.

Interestingly, NBC aired a new TV series called Friends with Benefits later in 2011 with a similar plot to the aforementioned movies. The single-camera comedy was unceremoniously canceled after five weeks.

Congratulations, now you never have to think about those movies and TV shows ever again.

19. and 20. The Illusionist (released: August 18, 2006) // The Prestige (released: October 20, 2006)

During the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, director Neil Burger premiered The Illusionist, about a 19th century social-climbing magician played by Edward Norton. Later that year, director Christopher Nolan released a separate movie about two competing 19th century magicians called The Prestige. The Illusionist and The Prestige were both nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography but were made to disappear by Pan's Labyrinth.

21 - 25. DeepStar Six (released January 13, 1989) // Leviathan (released March 17, 1989) // Lords of the Deep (released April 21, 1989) // The Evil Below (released July 1, 1989) // The Abyss (released August 9, 1989)

Throughout 1989, moviegoers were treated to five competing films about deep-sea crews stationed underwater that find something mysterious and monstrous in the depths. DeepStar Six, Leviathan, Lords of the Deep, The Evil Below, and The Abyss all married elements of science fiction and ocean horror, but only James Cameron’s The Abyss experienced both critical and monetary success.

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February 10, 2014 - 11:00am
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