Every once in a while it happens: two movies hit theaters with the same exact title, but neither film is a remake, sequel, reboot or anything to the other. It happens more often when the earlier film was less successful, but it even happened to one of Alfred Hitchcock’s better films, which shares a name with a hip-hop biopic, and twice to a classic Jeff Bridges Western.
The Internet has plenty of articles pointing out this phenomenon, but are these name-sharing films really totally different? Even allowing for similarities that the titles require (any film called Employee of the Month is going to be set in a workplace, for instance), we found some unusual ties between them.
To keep our search to the most interesting results, we limited it to theatrical releases that had a Rotten Tomatoes score, with a couple of exceptions for very notable lead actors. Note that the international box-office figures are not adjusted for inflation: even so, the latter film is usually the more financially successful one. Here are 20 Pairs Of Movies With Identical Titles.
20. Delirious (1991) (2007)
Box Office: $5m to $>1m RT: 42% to 82%
1991: Soap-opera showrunner John Candy, in a power struggle with his co-producers, suffers head trauma which makes him hallucinate that he’s a part of his own show and realize he’s chasing the wrong woman.
2007: A drifter works his way up from homelessness to a career in show business by way of assisting a neurotic photographer (Steve Buscemi).
Strangely, both movies… fool the audience with scenes that seem to be real life but are actually television, and have a hapless lead who tries to win the love of a show-business diva and is nearly shot to death with a handgun.
19. Proof (1991) (2005)
Box Office: $>1m to $8m RT: 94% to 62%
1991: Irascible blind photographer Hugo Weaving takes pictures and has people describe them to him as a way of coping with his distrust of others and inability to judge the world without them.
2005: Gwyneth Paltrow tries to settle her mathematician father’s affairs and worries she’s inherited his madness; she may have also inherited a proof with great significance to modern math.
18. Flawless (1999) (2008)
Box Office: $4m to $5m RT: 43% to 55%
1999: Robert De Niro suffers a stroke and has to rely on the musical knowledge of a drag queen saving up for a gender transition (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to get his mobility and speech back.
2008: In the 1960s, Demi Moore, a diamond executive who’s hit the glass ceiling, gets entangled in a janitor’s plot to defraud the company (and Demi Moore, the actor, stages an ill-fated comeback).
17. Employee of the Month (2005) (2006)
Box Office: $>1m to $38m RT: 11% to 20%
2005: In this black comedy, Matt Dillon loses his job and fiancee in the same day, then gets caught up in a robbery at his old employer, then… then the story starts to feel like an improv comedy sketch that took a left turn somewhere.
2006: In this light office comedy, Dane Cook competes with an office bully for “employee of the month” title and a new hire’s (Jessica Simpson, of all people) heart, but risks losing his soul to get what he wants.
16. Fair Game (1995) (2010)
Box Office: $26m to $21m RT: 13% to 79%
1995: Cindy Crawford, a divorce lawyer, ends up handling a case that involves property important to former members of the KGB, which jeopardizes her life and leads a hunky cop (William Baldwin) to protect her. Sparks fly, naturally.
2010: A spy drama biopic that covers “Plamegate,” the outing of CIA spy Valerie Plame (played by Naomi Watts) and her subsequent marital troubles and struggles with the White House.
Strangely, both movies… feature the machinations of a Cold War-founded intelligence agency and the government behind it, putting an innocent yuppie woman (who’s ridiculously hot, because Hollywood) in the crosshairs.
15. Invincible (2002) (2006)
Box Office: $59m to $<1m RT: 54% to 71%
2002: This Werner Herzog film features Zishe Breitbart, a strongman who reveals himself as Jewish in pre-Reich Germany, surviving attempted smears from Nazis and their would-be collaborators.
2006: Mark Wahlberg stars as Vince Papale, a laid-off substitute teacher who begins playing football for the Philadelphia Eagles and changes their fortunes in a brief but notable career.
Strangely, both movies… are true-life tales that fudge important events (the details of Eagles games are muddled, and Breitbart died in 1925, not 1933 as the movie depicts). Both are sports movies about older star athletes who fell into their glory days as a second career.
14. Man of the House (1995) (2005)
Box Office: $40m to $21m RT: 14% to 9%
1995: A friendly defense attorney (Chevy Chase) tries to woo single mom Farrah Fawcett and bond with her son, who stubbornly mistrusts and sabotages him. The poster (seen above) features some questionable cultural appropriation.
2005: A lonely Texas Ranger (Tommy Lee Jones) poses as an assistant cheerleading coach to protect a group of cheerleaders who have witnessed a murder.
13. Crossroads (1986) (2002)
Box Office: $6m to $57m RT: 79% to 14%
1986: Ralph Macchio (The Karate Kid), a music student at Julliard, befriends an old bluesman, breaking him out of an old folks’ home to take him to Mississippi and learn his secrets. They meet up with a runaway who breaks Ralph’s heart, which teaches him even more of the blues.
2002: Three teenage girls (including Britney Spears and Zoe Saldana) accompany one hunky male love interest for Britney on a long trip with three different goals, becoming a musical trio along the way.
Strangely, both movies… are musical dramas about discovering your talent and take journeys through the Deep South, funded by performances after the money quickly runs out, while a secondary character in each achieves her dream of getting to Los Angeles.
12. Notorious (1946) (2009)
Box Office: $24m to $45m RT: 97% to 51%
1946: A government agent (Cary Grant) and the daughter of a Nazi spy (Ingrid Bergman) with a questionable past work together to bring down a Brazilian ring of Nazis in the postwar period, but at great risk to Bergman’s life. One of Alfred Hitchcock’s early classics, with a famously long, taboo-breaking kiss.
2009: This musical biopic covers the life and early death of Christopher Wallace, AKA the Notorious B.I.G., a life full of drug dealing, musical glory, death threats and jealousy.
11. Bad Company (1973) (1995) (2002)
This once we’re doing a threefer, since all three of these movies are too notable to overlook.
Box Office: $<1m to $4m to $69m RT: 91% to 27% to 10%
1973: Jeff Bridges, a pious Ohioan dodging the Civil War draft, falls in with a rough crowd in this unromantic Western.
1995: Two former CIA agents, a femme fatale and a reluctant mole, plot to murder their boss and take over his corporate espionage company, but make the mistake of trusting one another.
2002: In the last film to be shot in the World Trade Center, Chris Rock poses as his own twin brother to foil an Afghan bomb plot (yeah, that was uncomfortable). Anthony Hopkins is his supervisor.
Strangely… the male lead of each film spends most of the movie lying about who he really is. The first two involve main characters turning on and killing each other; the last two involve the CIA (sometimes called the “Company”).
10. Crash (1996) (2005)
Box Office: $3m to $101m RT: 58% to 75%
1996: A man, his wife, his lover and his guru all pursue a fetish for cars and car crashes, which ultimately reinvigorates his marriage but may prove fatal. The film came out in NC-17 and R-rated versions.
2005: A black police detective, his criminal younger brother, the white DA and his spoiled wife, a hardworking locksmith, a black director and his wife, and a racist white cop and his rookie partner all figure into intersecting Los Angeles stories focusing on, naturally, race. The movie begins and ends with a car crash.
9. Bad Boys (1983) (1995)
Box Office: $9m to $141m RT: 89% to 43%
1983: Sean Penn is a roughneck sent to juvie who comes of age as he realizes the cost of the violent road he’s headed down.
1995: Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are cops trying to recover some drugs stolen from police custody, which threatens the whole narcotics division with scandal and a resulting shutdown.
Strangely, both movies… are debut films, featuring Penn’s first star role, Smith’s first action star role (and second star role after Six Degrees of Separation), Ally Sheedy’s first role (in the former film) and Michael Bay’s first directing job (in the latter).
8. The Island (1980) (2005)
Box Office: $16m to $163m RT: 40% to 40%
1980: An innocent man (Michael Caine) and his estranged son fall victim to a lost colony of pirates. While his son flirts with the pirate life, he struggles to free them both, finally becoming as savage as they are to do so.
7. The Aviator (1985) (2004)
Box Office: $>1m to $208m RT: N/A to 87%
1985: Pilot Christopher Reeve and his spoiled passenger Rosanna Arquette struggle to survive after crashing on an island of roving wolves, and fall for each other along the way.
2004: The life of Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio), whose brilliance in plane design and film production led him to massive success in business and high-profile celebrity romances, but was slowly eclipsed by his obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Strangely, both movies… begin in the 1910s and feature disastrous crashes the pilot nevertheless walks away from. Both also had real-life inspirations, as Reeve based his performance on Charles Lindbergh.
6. Moulin Rouge (1952) (2001)
Box Office: $>1m to $179m RT: 75% to 76%
1952: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec lives out his days as a deformed but brilliant artist, but is unlucky in love and lets the wrong girl get away.
2001: A writer falls in love with a performer also desired by a nobleman in this musical tale of love versus class.
Strangely, both movies… besides, naturally, being about the Moulin Rouge, the nightclub focus of 1890s Paris, are also tragic love triangles that end with a major character dying of disease. Yet the stories aren’t based on each other at all and Toulouse-Lautrec is very different in each: in the first, he’s tormented and deeply unhappy; in the second, he’s a wise and apparently successful mentor.
5. Deja Vu (1998) (2006) RT: 65% to 55%
Box Office: $6m to $181m
1998: A chance meeting on the White Cliffs of Dover leads two people, both already in relationships, to feel they are meant for each other.
2006: Denzel Washington uses a special “time window” to investigate and ultimately prevent a terrorist bombing that killed/would have killed hundreds of armed forces servicepeople and their families.
4. Heat (1987) (1995)
Box Office: $34m to $187m RT: N/A to 86%
1987: Burt Reynolds is an ex-mercenary pulling odd jobs suited to his talents (taking a dive in a bar fight, teaching a wimp to be tough), trying to save up enough money to leave Las Vegas for Venice, but cannot unless he overcomes his compulsive gambling.
1995: Career criminal Robert De Niro forms a strange bond with police detective Al Pacino though each is willing to kill the other. Though wily, De Niro is on the run from both Pacino and rival criminals.
3. Twilight (1998) (2008)
Box Office: $15m to $402m RT: 59% to 48%
1998: Paul Newman, a detective in his twilight years, has to come to terms with the fact that his old friends have manipulated him away from solving a case from two decades ago.
2008: A teenage girl falls for an immortal vampire, attracting the attention of his family, who approve, and a nomadic vampire, who hunts her for sport. Also, the vampires sparkle for some reason. Don’t pretend like you haven’t seen this.
2. Gladiator (1992) (2000)
Box Office: $8m to $458m RT: 25% to 76%
1992: James Marshall is forced to fight in underground boxing to pay off his father’s gambling debts, but the brutality of the ring is too much for the friends he makes and almost too much for him.
2000: Russell Crowe is a loyal Roman general reduced to the gladiator’s ring by imperial treachery, who wins the people’s hearts enough to make a play at revenge.
1. The Avengers (1998) (2012)
Box Office: $49m to $1.5b RT: 5% to 92%
1998: Two British spies track down and foil a weather-controlling madman who wants to hold the world for ransom in this tribute to the classic British television series.
2012: Faced with the threat of a mind-controlling god on Earth, Nick Fury assembles a team of superheroes (familiar from Marvel comics and, in most cases, other movies) to take him down and block his master plans.
Strangely, both movies… involve weather control, an elite off-the-books spy organization, and a resourceful redhead in a skintight black catsuit.
What examples have we missed? Do let us know in the comments!
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