Movie audiences usually believe that whatever drama or action they see on screen was created or captured for nothing but that story. Most of the time, they’re right. But sometimes, a director or studio realizes that it’s better for the vision, schedule, or budget to give existing footage a second life.
Here is Screenrant’s list of Movies That Stole Footage From Other Films.
The plots of Transformers and The Island couldn’t be farther apart: one is a story about alien robots at war, and the other is a vision of the future where clones of the wealthy are grown to be harvested for their organs. But director Michael Bay made sure the two movies would be forever linked, when he reused footage from The Island’s chase sequence in the third Transformers – with a deadly robot added on top. Exactly how anyone spotted the reused footage is beyond us, but once they placed the shots side by side online, Michael Bay’s critics saw it as a smoking gun that all the director’s films were cookie-cutter explosion-fests. If you ask us… it’s a pretty clever way of saving on stunts.
Modifying footage for a different film is one thing, but reusing the exact same explosion in two films in the same series is something else. No Star Trek fan will forget the moment when Captains Kirk and Sulu joined forces to take down a Klingon Bird-of-Prey in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country – which may have been the problem. In Star Trek: Generations just three years later, the exact same explosion was used to end its own climactic battle. Apparently the crew decided that building a brand new model just to blow it up wasn’t worth the time or money.
Ridley Scott had every intention of keeping Blade Runner’s ending unclear, and to keep fans guessing if the movie’s hero was a human or not. The studio, on the other hand, wanted a happy ending, where the hero and his new love escaped the overcrowded streets of future L.A. into sprawling countryside. The shots of Harrison Ford and Sean Young were easy enough – but the weather didn’t cooperate with the idea of a sunny send-off. That’s when Scott remembered Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining opened with the exact footage he was hoping for – so he took his pick of the hours of helicopter coverage, and called it a day. Making Blade Runner a Shining prequel, as far as we’re concerned.
George Lucas’ Star Wars prequel trilogy finally let fans see how the fate of the Jedi Order and the galaxy at large was decided, by bringing the movie’s heroes into the inner sanctum of the Jedi’s High Council. Each one of the alien Jedi Masters is memorable in their own way, but when production shifted from England to Australia between Episodes I and II, these bit players were suddenly a world away. Instead of filming the Council for another film, Lucas decided to use the exact same footage, using computers to cut and paste their reactions into different shots or positions. No wonder they didn’t do much talking.
A video game adaptation turning out to disappoint is nothing new, but Hitman was something different – or, it could have been. The director had some unique ideas for the story of a genetically-engineered assassin, but the studio thought audiences should actually see his origin story, instead of getting only hints. But with the studio looking to simply get the movie finished, Fox decided that instead of filming the scenes, they would just use footage from one of their previous shows, Dark Angel. Jessica Alba isn’t in the footage of children being trained for a life of murder, but the rest of the scenes are taken straight from the show’s pilot episode.
It’s crazy to think that a story as weird as Bill & Ted actually worked, let alone became a cult classic. As goofy as the story might have been, the people making the movie clearly had to know their history. They also knew their film history just as well. When the stars first take a trip through time, they land in Austria in 1805, getting a front row seat to Napoleon’s military campaign. If the footage looks a little too ambitious for the rest of the movie, it should. The shots are taken from War and Peace, starring Henry Fonda and Audrey Hepburn. Stealing scenes from another movie is usually frowned upon, but in this case, the joke is more than worth it.
So what do you think of our list? Did we miss any of your favorite cases of scene stealing or film thievery? Let us know in our comment section and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos like this one.