Monday, 30 May 2016

5 Times The Same Movie Came Out Twice In The Same Year

Right now the number one movie this year is a superhero film that pitted a morally righteous character in a red and blue suit against a powerless billionaire in an enhanced suit of armor. If that plot sounds familiar to you in anyway, it's because it's the exact same plot of the prior superflick, 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice'. Anyone who's seen both films can say that the similarities between the film are more than superficial. The plots both centre around an issue of superhuman responsibility and how dangerous it would be to leave such powerful people unsupervised.

This isn't a new phenomenon, in fact, there's a whole article on wikipedia about it. Every other year the movie going public has to suffer a sense of deja vu as different studios attempt to capitalize on the same market. Interestingly though, for all the similarities with the subject matter, the movies that come out are drastically different in tone, and more importantly quality. Here's a list of a few that I could remember of the top of my head.

It's like a color gradient but for tone. 

2012 was a packed year for movies. The Avengers assembled, The Hunger Games began, and Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy was concluded. That didn't stop not one, but two live action snow white adaptations from being produced.

The lighter of the two was 'Mirror, Mirror'. With a stellar cast including Julia Roberts, Nathan Lane and Sean Bean, the film was more in line with the Disney classic than the Grimm fairy tale. 'Snow White and the Huntsman' on the other hand, went for a much grittier fantasy tale, akin to that of Lord of The Rings or Game of Thrones (despite Mirror Mirror actually casting Sean Bean who was in both). Both films received poor to mixed critical reception, but both fared pretty well at the box office, more than doubling their budgets. Seeing as Snow White and the Hunstman was granted a sequel (prequel?), I guess there was an audience for it?

Maaaaaybe not.

Asteroid phobia was huge in the 90s.

This one has always been funny to me, because what you have is 'Deep Impact', a serious, gritty, emotional film, that focuses on humanity coming to terms with it's demise. It's a well thought out disaster movie, and it's got Morgan Freeman playing a black president. It kind of stings that every time there's a black president the world's gotta end but whatever.

And then you have Armageddon which is the most Michael Bay film that Michael Bay ever Michael Bayed. It's got Bruce Willis and his oil drilling, distinctly American crew, who get recruited to go up into space to stop an asteroid from hitting earth. It's filled with dumb moments like Bruce Willis chasing Ben Affleck for sleeping with his daughter, Steve Buscemi suffering space dementia, and my favourite moment, which is when Willis informs their recruiter Billy Bob Thornton, that their request for having saved the planet is that they don't ever want to pay taxes again, because they're just like you and me man. Who can't relate to that?

It's not better than 'Deep Impact' but if I'm picking one of the two to watch right now, I'll take the cheesy over the top 'Armageddon' over the morose 'Deep Impact'

It's a wonder the tagline for 'Friends With Benefits' isn't "And there are NO strings attached."

Full disclosure, I haven't exactly seen 'No Strings Attached' but both these casual sex comedies coming out in the same year, is doubly confusing considering both feature at least one of the cast from That 70's Show. Especially since they're cast members that were a couple in the show. Clearly these were just to fuel fan fiction flames.

What's interesting is that while 'No Strings Attached' has a 40% rotten tomatoes rating to 'Friends With Benefits' 70%, both films made near identical money, both clocking in at just under 150 million. Clearly there's a very specific audience for this type of film that is willing to see the same thing twice. Numbers don't lie people.

Hitchcock just looks mad that 'The Girl' exists.

This one is a damn shame because the better of the two is the one less seen. 'The Girl' was an HBO movie with Toby Jones as the infamous horror director, and the other had Hitchcock played by Anthony Hopkins. I'll be honest, of the two of those choices, Hopkins takes it, but when you watch the two films, it's clear 'The Girl' is a much better movie. Hitchcock is a bit confused as to what it's trying to be, while 'The Girl' is more confident and because it's made for HBO it didn't have to pull any punches, and is actually pretty disturbing at times.

Why it was decided to make 'Hitchcock' into a PG-13 film I'll never know. What audience below the age of 25 is gonna be jonesing to see a biopic about Alfred Hitchcock starring Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren?

Oh hey look it's Morgan Freeman again. 

Finally we have the infamous pairing of Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down. The year where the White House was attacked by two completely different directors. The thing is these movies aren't even different in tone. They both feature one man on a mission to save the president from inside the white house, with Die Hard-esque plot progression. Not only that, but the movies came out within a month of each other.

Like 'Snow White and the Huntsman', one of these movies got a sequel. 'White House Down' may have made 50 more million than, 'Olympus Has Fallen', but it was still followed by 'London Has Fallen' where it was revealed that the people behind the attack on the White House were out to destroy EVERY MAJOR LANDMARK. I'm assuming that's the plot, because I only watched the trailer. Nor did I see 'Olympus Has Fallen' or 'White House Down'.

I won't pretend that movies are made solely for their artistic merit. It's a business based on assuming what an audience wants, and then trying to sell it to them. When it's so clearly done for the sake of that business though, I get a bad vibe. I can't help but get that vibe when I see two movies that are pushing the same thing. That just says to me that it was probably rushed to beat the other movie from taking away that market. In which case, it doesn't sound like a good time for me at the movies, but it sure is fun to write about.

Thanks for reading. You can leave a comment below if you want, and here's an episode of the Take 4 podcast where we talked about disaster movies, which really and truly, a lot of these movies are.