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

151 Comments

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  1. Kick-Ass and Super

    • And Defendor.

    • Kickass and Super are nothing alike and came out over a year apart.

      • They came out same day same year the whole point of this s not that they are alike but similar concepts get the facts correct before you try to correct somebody okay bud ;)

  2. Independence Day and Mars Attacks!

    • Spoofs don’t count.

  3. I know they didn’t come out at the same time, but they are the same type of film.
    Blade and Underworld
    Vampires killing vampires.

  4. or what about TV shows? Spartacus and Game of Thrones..

    • What?! how? one of them is a book series, the other is loose history. Spartacus was in production hell for around a decade and Game of Thrones, (albeit being better) came together fairly quickly. AND they are completely different time periods. I don’t see how they can be compared at ALL.

      • They aren’t just different time periods, Game Of Thrones is fantasy set in a fantasy world that doe not exist. I can’t remember Spartacus having any Dragons in it. (^-^)

  5. Reminds me of a list I created on GoWatchIt a couple weeks back. I have a few that SR missed, like Tombstone and Wyatt Earp.

    Check it out here.
    http://gowatchit.com/lists/100/#/list/movie-doppelgangers-100

  6. I remember reading an article on the secrets of Hollywood a little while ago. One of them was that you can copyright a script, but you can’t copyright a concept. As a result, studios get scripts pitched to them, but rather than pay for the script, they go off and make their own movie with the same concept but a little differently. That’s why you get so many movies with the same concept coming out around the same time.

    I always wondered why this would happen. The article explained it for me. This article though, did not really do a good job at explaining why we get so may copy cat films. That films “just so happen to have the same concept” isn’t a very good explanation. That makes it seem like it’s basically a coincidence.

    Anyway, it was fun to see the films compared against each other, even though I would have liked a few of the films in the comments on the list as well. Thanks.

  7. I don’t know if it’s just me, but as a kid (I’m 23 years old) I use to LOVE ‘Volcano’ and you know what? I still do. I don’t know what it is, but Don Cheadle & Tommy Lee Jones are just awesome in it. On that note, I’m going to go watch it.

  8. I’ve always thought Linda Hamilton and Mark Hamill look very alike.

  9. Quite honestly and simply… You are way off with Deep Impact vs. Armageddon. D.I. has the better story, acting, effects, and as you stated, is scientifically more accurate. It is as if your only reason for picking Armageddon is for the money it made and the star power. Umm… Really? So, I guess that makes Twilight the best Vampire and Werewolf series of all time, too. Mindless post, guys. Almost as brain dead as Armageddon.

    • Deep Impact was boring. Tea Leoni is a terrible actress, and Robert Duvall was the only “astronaut” on the entire crew worth watching. Armageddon was a lot more fun, with Aerosmith’s soundtrack, Steve Buscemi going space crazy, and Bruce Willis chasing Ben Affleck with a shotgun. Who wouldn’t want to see more of that?

      • “Armageddon” was just plain awful.

        (IMO)

    • I agree with you 100%.
      Deep Impact is by far the better film of the two.

  10. How about Tombstone and Wyatt Earp? I preferred Tombstone.

    • Agreed. Tombstone was cooler. Wyatt Earp seemed to be for an older audience.

  11. Hmmm…Antz & A Bug’s Life…aha! Spoiler & Hint-City! We are finally getting Ant-Man and The Wasp! Right, rumor-mill???

  12. It seems like it happens more often with kids movies. Finding Nemo and that awful Will Smith fish movie, Megamind and Despicable Me (super villain turns hero). Someone else mentioned that some studios pass on a script but steal the concept. It would be interesting to know which ones of these pairs is the original and which is copycatter.

  13. What about Friends with Benefits and No Strings Attached? Or Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Observe and Report? Or Yes Man and Bedtime Stories?

    • Yes Man and Bedtime Stories???? WHAT?? but I SO agree with the other two. ESPECIALLY the first one. All those movies are great tho, (except Bedtime Stories, Disney dumber down Sandler), and they all have their own unique taste, but im surprised No strings Attatched and Friends with Benefits werent on this list in the first place.

  14. Another one would be Warrior and Here Comes the Boom. Well, as far as teacher turned MMA fighter anyway.

  15. Bruce Campbell was in a Hallmark movie?

  16. You forgot about:
    - KNIGHT AND DAY and THE KILLERS
    - 48 HOURS and LETHAL WEAPON
    - BABE and GORDY
    - MISSION TO MARS and RED PLANET (2000)

    I don’t think they’re copycats as they are just studios competing for the most dollars for the concept. One Studio hears that another studio is making a movie, and then they race to make a film based on the same concept. The first to release the film is first to the Box Office.

  17. How about Avatar copying its plot off of Dances with wolves………..

    • those movies were 19 years apart

    • Spot on.

    • or Avatar and Fern Gully: The Last Rain Forest. Though those were pretty far apart time-wise, as well.

      • Totally. I watched Fern Gully several times as a kid, and it is heavily reflected in Avatar.

    • Oh, and Pocahontas and also some movie about Atlantis too. There are apparently so many movies that Avatar ripped off – though no one says that these films ripped each other off.

  18. You forgot The Lion King copying the story of Kimba The White Lion. The latter being vastly better.

    • I don’t know about Kimba: The White Lion…but I’m 99.9% sure that The Lion King was a kid-friendly animalized version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet…which of course would pre-date Kimba.

      • Not if it wasn’t written before, no matter what it was based on.

  19. Perception vs Elementary, I couldn’t choose a winner though

  20. Should have left off Twister/Tornado; mockbusters aren’t really good examples. A better example would have been Skyline/Battle: Los Angeles, as the rivalry and accusations were well-documented. Plus, they’re actually closer in plot than Illusionist/Prestige.

  21. Don’t forget Jurassic Park & Carnosaur (the latter of which had the subtitle: “This ain’t no walk in the park”).

  22. Ohh… also The Matrix vs The 13th Floor. Both are about virtual reality computer worlds overlayed over the “real world”. 13th Floor was released after The Matrix, I believe (at least I saw it in theaters after I had seen the Matrix), and suffered for it, though it was a pretty decent film (and, I feel, a conceptual inspiration for Inception).

  23. The Incredibles (2004) and Fantastic Four (2005). I know they are almost a year apart but I always thought the coincidence was too striking because anticipation for the FF movie had started some years before; then enter scene left: The Incredibles movie- which IMO was the winner.

    • “The Incredibles” was basically a fantastic Four movie that slipped in the back door while Marvel and co were dragging their heels. It was also a much better movie.

  24. wow! is wonderful. it’s the inventor or very good and keep trying possibility

  25. Red Planet and Mision To Mars .
    Personally, I always liked Red Planet better.
    It was a bit more rumble and tumble ,action oriented.
    Mission To Mars was 2001 without Kubrick.

    • Personally, I found “Mission to Mars” to be a MUCH better, much more interesting film than “Red Planet”. I also preferred (quite a bit more) “Deep Impact” to “Armageddon” and DEFINITELY “Antz” to “A Bug’s Life” (among several reasons…ONLY 4 LEGS on the insects?!?).

  26. Antz was a betterfilm even though it looked horrible

    and obviously the prestige was better.

    not sure if some of these are copycats.

  27. Ha! I found two more.

    Sky High and Zoom:Academy For Superheroes.

    Sky High release in July of ’05,and Zoom was August of ’06,so the time difference isn’t that much of a stretch.

  28. Ok, Rob Frappier, PLEASE don’t be dumb as many people, when reffering to the Rotten Tomatoes score.
    People often say: ”This film has 65% score on Rotten Tomatoes, which is bigger than 64% that the other film has.”
    BUT THAT IS NOT THE SCORE – the percentages only show the PERCENT of the critics that LIKED IT.
    For example, if there were 10 reviewes, and 5 of them are positive, it will say ”50% of critics liked it” – BUT THAT IS NOT THE SCORE.
    The score is written BELLOW, as the AVERAGE RATING.

    Why am I bringing this up?
    Well, because you said that Antz has a better RT score, by having 95% (as opposed to A Bug’s Life 92%).
    BUT, if we see an average RATING on RT, we see that A Bug’s Life has a score of 7.9, as opposed to Antz’s 7.7.

    Please, if anyone is reading this, don’t just go to Rotten Tomatoes (for any film) and just look at the big percentage number – see the average rating too.

    • I pay no attention to Rotten Tomatoes…too often, their ratings are simply stupid. I STILL say “Antz” was a MUCH better animated insect film. Along with various other reasons, “Antz” had INSECTS; “A Bug’s Life” had deformed Pixar people (humanoids with something a little off). I enjoyed BOTH films, but A was the better film. ABL, in fact, was (to me) one of Pixar’s weaker films, only slightly better than “Cars”.

      We now return you to your daily Rob…

  29. I always thought Johnny Test was a crap-out imitation of Dexter’s Lab.

    • No, they are different conceptually as well as character-wise. Both, however, DO possess elements of the Frankenstein story (and/or other “mad scientist” tales).

    • Johnny Test is sort of like Dexter’s Lab in reverse: blond boy keeps invading his redheaded sisters’ lab and messing up their experiments.

      • Hmmm…actually, yes. That’s an excellent assessment.

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