11 times two strikingly similar films were released at the same time

  • 11 times two strikingly similar films were released at the same time

You might not have heard, but the two biggest superhero films of all time are being released this month and next.

Firstly, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice pits DC's iconic characters against each other, then next month, former allies Captain America and Iron Man have a big old falling out in Captain America: Civil War.

With two quite similar films coming out at the same time, we looked at other instances when that has happened, and it's been a lot more frequent than you'd expect...

"A group of friends have their party ruined by the end of the world"

This Is the End - June 2013 
The World's End - August 2013

Superbad and Pineapple Express creators Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg made the comedy in which the Hollywood comedy A-listers like James Franco, Jonah Hill and Seth Rogen played exaggerated versions of themselves in a party at Franco's house when a biblical apocalypse hits.

Equally esteemed filmmakers Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg polished off their Cornetto trilogy with the tale of five former school friends whose attempts to relive a famous hometown pub crawl goes to pot when they discover an alien invasion means they are humanity's only hope for survival.

Who won?

This is the End, stacked full of the Hollywood comedy elite, banked over $111 million at the box office compared to the British version's $44 million, but the rabid fandom of director Edgar Wright and stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost means that The World's End will stand the test of time.

"Can two beautiful people manage to stay friends despite having a bit of slap and tickle?"

No Strings Attached - January 2011
Friends with Benefits - July 2011

Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis are now married, but back in 2011 - when Kutcher was married to Demi Moore - the pair went up against each other as they engaged in a causal relationship with a friend of the opposite sex.

Mila Kunis hooked up with (now acceptable actor) Justin Timberlake, while for Ashton it was Kunis' Black Swan co-star Natalie Portman who he had an open relationship with, which ties everything up into a nice little package.

Who won?

While both performed fairly well at the box office, No Strings' mixed reviews mean that Benefits edges the victory.

"A man whose life is constantly monitored by TV cameras"

The Truman Show - June 1998
EDtv - March 1999

Back in the late '90s, Jim Carrey was Hollywood's biggest comedy star, so people were a bit taken aback when he starred in the drama in which he plays a Truman Burbank, a simple insurance salesman whose entire life has been recorded by hidden cameras for a TV show.

Meanwhile, less than a year later, Matthew McConaughey plays a video store clerk who agrees to have his entire life filmed for a TV show, which throws his life into chaos.

Who won?

The Truman Show bossed EDtv - greater box office return, critics loved it, it withstands the test of time and it has its started its own mental condition - The Truman Show delusion, in which patients believe their lives are staged plays or reality television shows.

"A chubby mall security guard takes his job more seriously than he should. Ha!"

Paul Blart: Mall Cop - January 2009
Observe and Report - April 2009

Adam Sandler's buddy Kevin James played the lead in Paul Blart: Mall Cop, a slapstick action parody when a gang of organised criminals put his mall under siege and Paul Blart has to stop the criminals single-handedly.

Two months later, Seth Rogen's Observe and Report came out, and while the trailers made it look like a similar silly comedy, it was a lot darker tale about a slightly-delusional mall cop who develops an unhealthy obsession with a store clerk as he tries to track down a flasher who has been terrorising the mall.

Who won?

While Observe may have been regarded as a better film, Paul Blart was a runaway smash at the box office, taking in over $183 million worldwide and it was given a dismal sequel too.

"A nineteenth century magician performs seemingly impossible tricks"

The Illusionist - September 2006
The Prestige - October 2006

Set in 1889 Vienna, The Illusionist stars Edward Norton starred as a magician who falls in love with a woman well above his social standing and uses his magic to free the woman from an impending violent marriage of convenience and undermine the stability of the royal house of Vienna.

A month later, Christopher Nolan-directed The Prestige came out, starring Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale as duelling magicians in late 19th century London who become obsessed with one-upping each other to create the ultimate stage illusion.

Who won?

Both performed well at the box office, The Illusionist made $87 million, while The Prestige bagged  $109 million (from a much larger budget), but due to the unwavering Nolan fanbase, The Prestige's popularity seems to have grown since its release.

"An Oscar-bait movie about famous British scientists"

The Theory of Everything - November 2014
The Imitation Game - December 2014   

Eddie Redmayne spent months perfecting his portrayal of Stephen Hawking to play the famed theoretical physicist during his life, meeting his wife Jane and his body slowly being overcome with motor neurone disease.

Shortly after, internet fave Benedict Cumberbatch played Alan Turing, a mathematician who, during World War II, cracked the code of the German's enigma machine, while fighting to conceal his homosexuality for fear of persecution.

Who won?

Both films were praised by critics and both raked in the nominations at the big award shows; while The Theory of Everything scored well below The Imitation Game at the box office, Eddie Redmayne picked up the Best Actor award at the Golden Globes, BAFTAs Oscars - so perhaps Theory by a nose.

"OMG! A volcano is erupting; people need to escape the spewing lava!"

Dante's Peak - February 1997
Volcano - April 1997

At the height of his Bond popularity, Pierce Brosnan played a Dr Harry Dalton, a geologist who is called to check a dormant volcano named Dante's Peak, which proves to be not so dormant and it erupts prompting evacuation and Dalton desperately trying to outrun the lava.

Around the same time, Tommy Lee Jones played the head of Los Angeles' Office of Emergency Management who discovers a massive volcano brewing underneath the city's La Brea tar pits which will potentially destroy the city unless he comes up with a plan to stop the lava.

Who won?

Both grossed over $120 million at the box office, as Dante's Inferno has remained more well-known than its volcanic rival; plus it attempted to be based on scientific accuracy, so that's something.

"How about, like, an animated tale about an ant?"

Antz - October 1998
A Bugs Life - November 1998

Animation studio DreamWorks - founded in 1994 - released their first feature film Antz in 1998 with Woody Allen playing a neurotic ant trying to win the affection of a princess that he is in love with.

Meanwhile, Pixar released their second feature film at virtually the same time about an ant who recruits a ragtag bunch of bugs to save his colony from greedy grasshoppers.

Jeffery Katzenberg, who was responsible for getting Pixar's first film Toy Story greenlit had been sacked from Disney and started making Antz for DreamWorks.

Pixar were furious when they found out that DreamWorks were developing Antz, as Katzenberg knew what their next project was before he left and accused them of ripping off their idea.

Who won?

While both went down well with critics and in the box office, Bug's Life managed to bank $200 million more than Antz, and is much better remembered thanks to Pixar's impressive catalogue of films.

"Oh no, the White House is under attack! We need an someone to step up and save the day"

Olympus Has Fallen - March 2013
White House Down - June 2013

Both considered "Die Hard in the White House" but obviously nowhere near as good (as the original, at least) in which terrorists attack the White House and  it is up to a Secret Service agent (or hopeful Secret Service agent in White House Down).

In OHF the president is Aaron Eckhart and the agent is Gerard Butler, in WHD it's Jamie Foxx as president and Channing Tatum as his saviour with the films full of shootouts, action and a largely similar storyline.

Who won?

A tough one to call, both have a largely similar review score on Rotten Tomatoes, both achieved similar opening weekends and total box office gross; Olympus' lower budget meant its profit secured it a sequel in the form of London Has Fallen, so it's probably that one.

"An asteroid heading towards Earth will destroy the planet unless it is destroyed!"

Deep Impact - May 1998
Armageddon - July 1998

In Deep Impact, Morgan Freeman played President Tom Beck who learns that a giant meteorite that will wipe out everyone on Earth is headed towards the planet and the crew of a spacecraft set out on a mission to blow up the meteor with nuclear bombs while it is still in space, which ultimately becomes a suicide mission.

In Michael Bay's Armageddon, Ben Affleck and Bruce Willis are deep-sea oil drillers sent into space to split the meteor in two before it enters the Earth's atmosphere and destroys all life; their mission turns out to be a suicide mission for some, but not others.

Fun fact: When Ben Affleck suggested to director Michael Bay that it'd be easier to train astronauts to drill rather than training drillers to become astronauts, Bay told him to "shut the f*ck up."

Who won?

While Deep Impact is regarded as the better film, the combination of box office success, Aerosmith's 'Don't Want to Miss A Thing' and all of the other stuff means that Armageddon is better remembered eighteen years after its release.

"Legendary superheroes fight each other with plenty of explosions and CGI"

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - March 2016
Captain America: Civil War - April 2016

DC are finally getting in on the success that Marvel have been enjoying for the past few years with their 'shared cinematic universe' as the pit iconic comic book superheroes Superman and Batman against each other.

Meanwhile Marvel are extending their grip over the superhero market as they are splitting up the Avengers as Captain America and Iron Man and their crews are facing off against each other for the first time.

Who will win?

It will be a matter of time, but if the early hearsay is to be taken seriously then Dawn of Justice won't be as successful as DC are hoping and Marvel's superheroes will continue to streak ahead of their rivals.

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