Twin Films

February 20, 2019
by Alanna Elling

Looks like a cool movie but I feel like I’ve seen it before. 


Have you ever gone to watch a movie and ten minutes into the movie you say to yourself “I could swear I’ve seen this movie before, but wasn’t Channing Tatum the one who saved the President?” Or maybe you say, “I’ve seen this before but I thought it was a comet that was going to hit Earth, not an asteroid.” If you have experienced this confusion, then you have been witness to a common happening in Hollywood. We’ll call it the Similar Movie Showdown.


It is a recurring theme in the world of movie-making that has gone on for years now, and will probably continue to some extent for years to come. Everyone has come across it at some point in their lives and it has caused for much confusion when discussing the great movie you saw…only for someone to tell you that you are thinking of the wrong actor/actress/plot line. Chances are the argument you had with someone over the subject matter was not that anybody was right or wrong. In fact, you both could have been right, just about different movies.


It has happened a number of times over the years, where competing studios have released similar products within close proximity of each other’s release dates, all so they could say “We did it first” or “We did it better”. Why does this happen you might ask? Well, there are a lot of factors that are involved really. What movies are made is really dependent on trends at the time. What is most popular and well-liked by the movie going audience? What it really depends on is what the studio thinks will make it the most money.


At first, it starts with studios trying to outdo each other in a particular genre, such as when 20th Century Fox released Star Wars – a movie that the studio really had no interest in making whatsoever, but much to their surprise crushed the box office for weeks after it was released. Well, of course Fox Studios competitor Paramount took notice of this and immediately followed suit by rushing to find a property they owned that they could put in production to compete and cash in on the new trend that was popular. That property was Star Trek, and the “sci-fi” feud continues to this day.


Now, while the fact that both take place in space is a shared similarity, any true fan will be more than happy to point out the differences between the two of them to you. As the years have passed, this practice became more profound to the point that competing movies have increasingly become even more similar to the point where it causes so much confusion that people can’t remember what movie that they saw. When this happens someone is going to lose money. Maybe even everyone.


There have been enough occurrences over the years of movies being too similar and causing such losses at the box office that with the cost of movies being ever more expensive, that many studios are thinking long and hard before risking on an investment into a copy or redo of a familiar subject, unless the cost of making it is low to begin with. In fact, the only studios that do make out good on doing very similar projects anymore are small fledgling studios that specialize in the direct-to-video films, which are only capitalizing on the word-of-mouth of the larger studios’ productions while duping unsuspecting viewers into watching something so terribly produced that it just makes the viewers wish they could get back the last 90 minutes they spent watching it…


The big problem with Hollywood these days is this…the studios fear originality. If any of them are to survive in this economy they need to be more open minded. They need to choose wisely what they invest in but not do a carbon copy to what another studio is already making. The best way to compete with others is to offer something different for the audience to decide on.


Be a leader, not a follower.


Written by Christopher Smyth

Have you ever noticed this phenomenon? What examples do you think of? Comment below!

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