In Hollywood, all you need is an idea. Often, though, that idea doesn’t even need to be any different from the next guy’s. Witness the upcoming and uncannily similar White House Down and the Olympus Has Fallen, both about attacks on the US President. And those are by no means the only rival movies to face off in recent years…
This week saw the trailer debut for White House Down, a typically preposterous-looking explosion-fest from Roland Emmerich, the director who previously brought us Independence Day, 2012 and ngghh, Godzilla. Starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx, White House Down is all about a cop protecting the President in the face of a titanic assault on the titular dwelling.
Whoa, hold on! That movie already exists, doesn’t it?
Indeed, Olympus Has Fallen, starring Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman and Aaron Eckhart as the Prez, came out in the US last week, to surprisingly buoyant box office.
We’ll find out how White House Down measures up when it goes on release in June. But in the meantime, here are five other episodes of when competing movies went head-to-head…
5. The Hot Zone & Outbreak (1995)
A commercial and critical hit, Richard Preston’s true-life Ebola virus book The Hot Zone seemed a dead cert for the big-budget Hollywood treatment. The film rights were duly snapped up by 20th Century Fox, and the future Sir Ridley Scott was signed up as director. A blockbuster thriller, it seemed, had been born.
However Warner Bros. set to work on its own Ebola movie, Outbreak. And as The Hot Zone collapsed in a mess of rewrites aimed at pleasing Scott and his heavyweight stars, Robert Redford and Jodie Foster, the path was cleared for Dustin Hoffman and his pestilent monkey pal to power their way to box office glory.
4. Deep Impact & Armageddon (1998)
Proving that rival movies CAN happily coexist: in the summer of ‘98, Dreamworks and Disney both flung giant asteroids at us poor blighters here on Earth, and we LOVED it!
Both flicks became stonking great hits, as audiences once again showed that they adore looming doomsday scenarios and tub-thumping triumphalism of the human spirit in equal measure.
3. Capote & Infamous (2005 & 2006)
With the thunder of his 1996 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma having been stolen by the previous year’s Clueless, director Douglas McGrath came even more of a cropper with Infamous, his chronicle of Truman Capote exploring the murder case which formed the basis of 1966 bestseller In Cold Blood.
For while he had a stellar cast on his side, including Sandra Bullock, Daniel Craig and Toby Jones as the legendary society wit, McGrath’s movie had been beaten to the punch by the previous year’s Capote, which covered the exact same ground and even secured a Best Actor Oscar for its leading man, Philip Seymour Hoffman.
2. Skyline & Battle: Los Angeles (2010 & 2011)
‘Alien ships attack Earth cities’ is so hoary a basis for a movie that it’s hard to claim any proprietary rights over it. Nonetheless, Sony Pictures was left spitting nails in 2010, when it launched a lawsuit against Universal Pictures and Relativity Media’s Skyline, claiming that film cribbed from its own upcoming Battle: Los Angeles.
With the Strause brothers, who directed Skyline, having also worked on Battle: LA via their Hydraulx special effects house, it seemed there might be something in the claim. However Sony eventually dropped the lawsuit, while both movies were panned all the way from Antwerp to Antarctica and back again.
1. Mirror Mirror & Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
“How do we beat that other project?”
That, according to Mirror Mirror screenwriter Jason Keller, was the primary thinking behind Relativity’s update on the Snow White story, as it faced up to the challenge of Universal’s Snow White and the Huntsman.
Turns out they needn’t have bothered, as despite getting into cinemas ahead of its rival, the Julia Roberts-starring Mirror Mirror was shunned by audiences, allowing the fantasy adventure of Snow White and the Huntsman to bring home the bacon.
Any rival movies that we’ve missed? Tell us on Twitter – #5FTW