10 Copycat Movies – Which Was Better?

Published 1 year ago by , Updated March 23rd, 2013 at 3:17 pm, This is a list post.

Which Was Better? 10 Copycat Movies

White House Down vs Olympus Has Fallen Antoine Fuqua's new film Olympus Has Fallen stars Gerard Butler as a Secret Service agent trying to single-handedly defeat a gang of terrorists who have taken over the White House. A few months later, Roland Emmerich's White House Down hits theaters. In it, Channing Tatum stars as a Secret Service agent trying to single-handedly defeat a gang of terrorist who have taken over the White House. If you have a feeling of Deja Vu, don't worry. It's only because you read virtually the same paragraph twice. You may be asking yourself, "Why would studios develop two movies with virtually identical plots and then have them come out within mere months of each other?" It's really not all that uncommon - in fact, you can probably think of a few right off the top of your head. To celebrate this interesting Hollywood phenomena, we've chosen 10 of our favorite copycat movies for a good old-fashioned face-off.

Deep Impact vs. Armageddon

Deep Impact vs. Armageddon movies

Deep Impact - May 8, 1998

Armageddon - July 1, 1998

The spring and summer of 1998 was a bad time to live on planet Earth. Not one, but two giant meteors were threatening to wipe out all of life as we know it!  Fortunately, both Deep Impact and Armageddon focused on one team's efforts to protect the planet from meteors. Neither film fared all that well with critics - Deep Impact has a middling 47% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while Armageddon earned an unimpressive 39%. However, both movies were pretty successful financially, with Deep Impact earning about $350 million and Armageddon raking in a whopping $550 million. So who wins? While Deep Impact is probably the more scientifically accurate movie, Armageddon was a bigger hit and has had more of a cultural impact (plus Bruce Willis), so we're calling this one for Armageddon. Winner = Armageddon.

Antz vs. A Bug's Life

Antz vs. A Bugs Life Antz - October 2, 1998 A Bug's Life - November 25, 1998 Many copycat movies are a product of pure coincidence - two studios just happen to be working on similar stories. However, that's not the case with the animated films Antz and A Bug's Life. The similarity of the two films - which each tell the story of an ant bucking the expectations of his colony to choose his own path - led to a well-documented falling out between Dreamworks' Jeffrey Katzenberg and Pixar's John Lasseter - with the latter accusing the former of idea theft (Katzenberg had left Disney a few years prior). Despite the acrimony between Dreamworks and Disney, both films actually fared well with both critics and audiences. A Bug's Life was the bigger box office success, earning over $360 million to Antz' $170 million. However, Antz earned a slightly higher Rotten Tomatoes score (95% vs. A Bug's Life's 92%). While they tell similar stories, Antz and A Bug's Life are light years apart when it comes to tone. Personally, I like the sharper, satirical humor of Antz to the more kid-friendly A Bug's Life. However, if we're going based on critical and financial success, the winner has to be Pixar. Winner = A Bug's Life.

Dante's Peak vs. Volcano

Dante's Peak vs Volcano Dante's Peak - February 7, 1997 Volcano - April 25, 1997 Movies about natural disasters are always popular territory for filmmakers, so it was no surprise when two different studios developed big-budget movies about volcanoes. Dante's Peak, starring Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton, tells the story of a volcano going off in a small Washington mountain town. Volcano, starring Anne Heche and Tommy Lee Jones, focuses on an underground volcano erupting in Los Angeles following an earthquake. While both movies were passable entertainment, Dante's Peak did better business at the box office, earning $178 million against a $116 million budget. Volcano cost less ($90 million) but also had a lower gross ($122 million). Critically speaking, Dante's Peak was a flop, earning a 29% fresh rating while Volcano was marginally better, earning a 44% rating. As much fun as it is to watch Tommy Lee Jones doing his grumpy man-in-charge routine, Dante's Peak takes the edge for being a bigger box office hit and for being a fun (albeit mindless) popcorn flick. Winner = Dante's Peak.

The Prestige vs. The Illusionist

The Prestige vs The Illusionist The Illusionist  - August 18, 2006 The Prestige - October 20, 2006; The Prestige and The Illusionist are both period dramas about magicians with two-word titles that start with "the." Besides that though, they actually don't share much in common. The former film focuses on the bitter rivalry between two magicians, while the latter film focuses on a forbidden romance and the resulting political intrigue it causes. Both movies were very well-received at the box office. The Prestige, which was directed by Christopher Nolan, managed to make nearly $110 million on a budget of only $40 million. The Illusionist was even more successful relative to its size, earning $87 million against a $17 million budget. Critically, The Prestige earned a 76% fresh rating, while The Illusionist earned a nearly comparable 74% fresh rating. In this case, picking a winner is pretty subjective. Both movies did well financially and critically, so it comes down to simple preference, which is why The Prestige is our winner. The way the movie unfolds like a magic trick, keeping you guessing the whole time, is a perfect example of the kind of complex and crafty narratives that Christopher Nolan does best. Winner = The Prestige.

Tornado! vs. Twister

Twister vs. Tornado Tornado! - May 7, 1996 Twister - May 17, 1996 As we discussed with Dante's Peak and Volcano, natural disasters are always a ripe subject for filmmakers, which is why these types of movies are often developed simultaneously. Sometimes though, it's obvious when one movie is cashing in on another. Such is the case with Tornado! and Twister. The former film, which is actually a Made-For-TV movie starring Bruce Campbell, came out a scant 10 days before Jan De Bont's blockbuster, perhaps as an attempt to cash in on the storm chaser craze. Given that it was a TV movie, however, there's really no way it could compete on any level with Twister. The Helen Hunt-Bill Paxton film was a huge hit with audiences, earning nearly $500 million worldwide, and was a moderate hit with critics, almost earning a fresh rating with a 58% score. Tornado! on the other hand is well...a Hallmark movie. Needless to say, Twister is the winner. Winner = Twister.

Why Copycats Are Here to Stay

White House Down Versus Olympus Has Fallen There's really no mystery to why similar movies get made. The bottom line is that movie studios are in the business of making money and the best way they can do that is to buy great scripts. Typically, great scripts start with a great concept. Both Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down just happen to have the same killer concept - "Die Hard in the White House." When they go to determine the release dates for the film, the studios will jockey for the best position to win over audiences, hoping that their movie will win out. There are plenty of other copycat movies out there, so feel free to keep the debate going in the comments. In the meantime, let us know what you think of our winners and losers, and tell us what White House movie you're more excited to see.
TAGS: olympus has fallen, White House Down

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  1. Antz vs A Bug’s Life made me laugh… Pixar, of course! :)
    but I can’t pick between The Prestige and The Illusionist because I love both equally!

  2. I just watched The Prestige again for the first time in a while. I forgot how good that film is. There’s a lot going on.

    “Are you watching closely?” indeed…

    • I can almost literally find something new in that movie that I didn’t catch the time before – every time I watch it. It’s my favorite Christopher Nolan film.

    • That final monologe draws me in everytime, makes me want to watch it again instantly.

    • Also, The Prestige pitted Wolverine vs Batman. I mean, come on!

  3. I hate to be hypercritical but there are numerous flaws with this article. First of all both of the white house movies were a direct ripoff of season 7 of 24. Jakc bauer did it first and best, nuff said! Number 2, antz was just about ants and bugs life had lotsa different kinds of bugs, its not a copycat at all. And comparing a tv movie called tornado to the massive cult classic twister is just shameful, that was such a stretch and it was so obvious that you were just so desperate to find another movie to add because you really didn’t put much thought into this article and obviously your overreliance on disaster flicks which of course there were numerous similar films that have occurred over time that it seems like you weren’t even trying which really just makes for some shameful and shoddy cinematic journalism. I’m afraid I’m going to have to throw a hundred rotten tomatoes at you. Good day. I said GOOD DAY!

    • The point was that these disaster movies are big budget disaster movies, which weren’t that common back then (it’s more the staple of TV movies), and that they came out in the same year and not “over time”.

    • I hate to be “that guy”, but if you’re going to criticize someone’s writing don’t start a sentence with “And” and then have that one sentence be half your paragraph. THAT, my friend, is poor writing…

      • Whoa sorry mr morris I didn’t know you had to be freaking shakespeare to leave a comment on a site about movies. I’m not writing a masters thesis on physics here pal. And to address the supernatural slash fiction fan above you, yourpoint is moot because the article failed to credit Jack Bauer. And everyone below this your examples are all poor to fair at best!

        • The writer had more than enough reason to compare Tornado! with Twister. It’s not hard to find movies that come out in pairs. Look at Mirror, Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman. I remember Missions To Mars and Red Planet came out near each other, as well, if by a few months.

          • yeah I thought this article was really cool. There are tons of movie pairs. Nice job on pointing out snow white and mirror mirror @schuyler! That one was fairly recent I can’t believe they omitted it. haha funny story: So last year my 13 yr old brother goes to what he thinks is going to be an action movie about thor with an axe, but they went to mirror mirror instead! haha wrong snow white movie, he totally hated it… that one always gets me.

        • My point isn’t moot, because you are missing the whole point of the article. This isn’t about copying things that came out years ago (like said 24 season), but about movies that were made at the same time, concurrently. I know the concepts of time, linearity and the simultaneity of events are hard to grasp for you, but you can trust us on this one.

      • A reply focused mostly on criticizing people’s silly grammatical mistakes now-a-days sounds like a 12 years old kid trying to win an argument by continually swearing on the internet.

    • Nice That 70s Show reference.

      • I think it was a Willy Wonka reference, but they did it on 70′s show referencing Willy Wonka. Either way, Gene Wilder ftw.

  4. Thought I would see Paul Blart vs. Observe and Report, both being mall cop movies. Observe and Report would be the winner.

    • I agree with your winner. I expected something like this instead of a TV movie comparison.

  5. You forgot Mission to Mars vs. Red Planet!

    • Yep… would have chosen that over Twister/Tornado.

  6. Chasing Livery & First Daughter, The Truman Show & EDTV, and Mirror Mirror & Snow White and The Huntsman….also in 1989 you had five moves about a team going on an under water missions but I can only think of two of them off the top of my head The Abyss & Leviathan

    • *Chasing Liberty*

    • Iron Eagle vs. Top Gun
      Wyatt Earp vs. Tombstone

  7. Prestige and Insomnia were Nolan’s best films. He should go back to doing smaller scale stuff like that

    • Sorry, but Nolan has Interstellar next. I don’t know how much that movie will cost, but don’t yell at me for it!

      • You both present paltry arguments, I’m going to have to dissuade this entire conversation and render it kaput in the garbage as the french would say.

        • I’m not arguing, I’m just saying. OK?

        • dude @the commentaterer if you can’t win either of them over with your argumentative skills then don’t try to dazzle them with your big words, thats just thinly veiled bs.

    • I love the Prestige. Recently saw Insomnia, and while I thought it was a great movie, I also thought it was by far Nolan’s worst film. Just doesn’t compare to TDK trilogy, Inception, Prestige, Memento, and even Following, IMO.

  8. What about Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Lincoln? Both were different takes on the same the character. That’s about the same stretch as using that TV movie comparison.

    • I thought Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was a prequel to Lincoln?

    • I’m afraid that you sir are gravely mistaken. That was a very disrespectful comment about our nations greatest president, I hope you are ashamed of yourself. Now good day…I SAID GOOD DAY!

      • Lol +1

        • Dude, Grover Cleveland was our nations greatest president. Everyone knows that.

          • Especially with all the work he did for kids on Sesame Street.

            • o_O

  9. No Strings Attached vs Friends With Benefits

    • Im glad im not the only person who thought that was missing from the catagory

  10. Paul Blart: mall cop vs observe and report

    • Someone already said that you unoriginal halfwitted hack! Besides your both wrong those were oscar caliber french fries (sp?)!

  11. looking ahead to the future, The World’s End (Aug. 23, 2013) will own This is the End (June 14, 2013) , as funny as the trailer was. Edgar Wright anyday over Seth Rogen

    • We are unsure exactly the worlds end will be about. All we know is its a pub crawl to a bar called worlds end. It could very well be a monster movie lol

  12. Madagascar vs. The Wild

  13. I explained this to a friend once. Their response was how would you know…I simply said watch the show Entourage.

    • Well said. Entourage FTW.

  14. Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman comes to mind.

  15. Killers vs Knight and Day

  16. Gremlins and Critters? Or was Critters later?

  17. You forgot to compare Lincoln with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

  18. This list could be much more extensive with more recent films such as “Mirror Mirror” and “Snow White and the Huntsman”, “Friends with Benefits”
    and “No Strings Attached”, and “Observe and Report” and “Paul Bart: Mall Cop” and I am sure horror flicks, parodies and satires, or something can also fall under this category.

    Similar films with very similar premises, yet can differ greatly in tone and execution. Some are sheer coincidence, others seem to may have been “corporate espionage” (haha). If you add this to number of sequels, prequels, spin-offs, reboots, remakes, etc. It is really hard to come up with a fully original realized idea, or at least it seems so. I guess what I am trying to say is that it is very interesting to see how execution and creative teams can really make a film feel different even when it is not in the most basic essence.

    I think we all want original films but there is sometimes cases interesting to see how the same premise could potentially end up completely different on screen and all allow debates and analysis such as these comparisons. That is art for you, minus the business-aspect of course.

  19. Independence Day vs. Mars Attack!

  20. The Abyss, Leviathan, Deep Star Six

    All released the same year. All underwater scifi movies.

    • Yeah it was 1989 there are also two more under water sci-fi films realsed but there mes escape me at the moment

      • Ah I remember now Lords of The Deep and The Evil Below were the other two

        • i don’t remember either of those, but the other 3 yes, the abyss being the winner of that melee imo

    • true, but Leviathan and Deepstar Six (both, by the way, terrible guilty pleasures of mine) are much closer stylistically and from a content point of view, so they’d probably make the better pairing.

    • My choice between Armageddon and Deep Impact will ALWAYS be Deep Impact. It is, by any definition, a far superiour film. If I hadn’t been at the theatre with a girlfriend’s young son to see Armageddon, I’d have walked out. As it was, he was highly enthusiastic about the movie, so I kept my yap shut.

      I far prefer Dante’s Peak over Volcano, though I own both DVDs.

      And like some of the previous posters here, I think there are many more films that would have made better pairings.

  21. The phantom menace vs home video of son playing with light sabre. The winner is… the home video as it had a plot that made sense and no jar jar binks

    • Clap. Clap. Clap. Meesa thinks you ar quite correct!

    • +1000

      • Your son has a f***ing LIGHTSABER?! And you LET HIM PLAY WITH IT?! Consider Child Protective Service notified.

        P.S. Where can I get a lightsaber of my own?

  22. The phantom menace vs any allotment. The winner?? well one of them has a plot

  23. “DREDD” Vs “The Raid: Redemption”

    “Dredd” is made first, but releases after “Raid” and suffers for it. It still irks me so.

    • Why would that “irk” you? Both were awesome films and should be enjoyed on it’s own merits and not on how much money they made.

      Plus,I don’t think that The Raid had any impact on how Dredd did at the box office,considering that it didn’t have a wide release here in the US.

      • It only “irked” me because I was constantly reading forum posts like… “This is a rip off of The Raid” etc…. I know it had no impact of “Dredd’s” failure at the US box office.

        It desrved to do better, and that’s what really bugs me.

  24. What about the dark night and the dark knight? Or twilight and buffy season 8.

  25. Little Women and Richie Rich both released on December 21, 1994. THE EXACT SAME DAY! Plot overlap: none. Coinciednce? I think not!

  26. Tombstone and Wyatt Earp was one of the first copycat scenarios I came across. Was kind of freaky to me at the time. Also in comics waay back then, it was X-men and Doom Patrol. Caused some tension between both major comic groups. Do I need to say the winner?

  27. Boy do I hate Rotten Tomatoes. It is the worst thing to happen to cinema. I am so glad I saw these movies in the ’90s before RT other critic sites reviewed them.

  28. Who remembers Dangerous Liaisons and Valmont ?

  29. This makes for interesting reading. A deviation from copycat films to copycat iconic comic characters. Some interesting revelations here http://www.cracked.com/article_17299_6-famous-characters-you-didnt-know-were-shameless-rip-offs_p2.html Just came across it and thought I should share.

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