Every year Hollywood is responsible for churning out a ton of different movies, so from time to time there are films that come out around the same time that have a similar tone or premise.
That phenomenon is called the Twin Film phenomenon and actually has it’s own page on Wikipedia, with hundreds of examples going back to near the dawn of filmmaking itself. With that in mind let’s break down the best examples of Twin Films with the Top 10 Examples of… You Guessed it, Twin Films!
10. Observe and Report (2009) vs. Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009)
Both Observe and Report and Paul Blart: Mall Cop were comedy films about mall cops that were released in 2009. The two films couldn’t be any more different as Observe and Report is considered a black comedy. Paul Blart was the much more successful of the films, spawning a sequel and helping show that Kevin James could carry a film on his own.
While Observe and Report is probably the biggest black mark on Seth Rogen’s career, it’s not a bad movie. It did get a decent amount of criticism for a sex scene that people said glorified date rape.
Rogen was open about how similar the film was, or rather the fact that people were saying that the two films were similar. He stated that because he was good friends with the fellas at Happy Madison.
They made sure to send pictures and updates to one another — for example, the uniforms the guards were wearing — to ensure they could have as many differences as possible between the two films.
However, because of dark tone of Observe and Report, Rogen insists that the two films are completely different.
9. No Strings Attached (2011) vs. Friends with Benefits (2011)
2011 was the year of the Romantic Comedy that surrounded on F*** Buddies. No Strings Attached was a film starring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher, who is no stranger to the Twin Film phenomenon starring in the first Steve Jobs related film (titled Jobs).
Unfortunately for Kutcher, while he looked a lot like a young Steve Jobs that film was mostly disregarded by both critics and the public. Kutcher has struggled to maintain the A-list status he had back when he was starring in MTV’s Punk’d. People don’t take him seriously and a lot of that comes from the stoner comedies he’s starred in.
Perhaps he saw No Strings Attached as a romantic comedy that could help him grow up along with his audience. Despite the fact that Friends with Benefits is the better known movie, they actually both performed well at the box office with nearly identical takes.
No Strings Attached brought in $149 million dollars at the box office while Friends with Benefits raked in $150.4 million. The latter film starred Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. What’s even more strange is the fact that Mila Kunis and Asthon Kutcher were both on That 70’s Show together and are now married and have children together.
8. Truman Show (1998) vs. EdTV (1999)
Before the explosion of reality TV at the beginning of this century, the idea of regular people being followed around by cameras was so crazy and unrealistic that people made movies about it. So, while the two films have wildly different plots, they were considered to be pretty similar thanks to trailers that didn’t really explain their differences very well.
When people saw the trailer for Truman Show, they thought that it was a comedy a lot like EdTV (which starred Matthew McConaughey) when it was more of a drama than anything. Truman Show was about a man who was raised from birth by a television studio, so his entire life is scripted and the only person that doesn’t know it is him.
The town he lives in is actually inside a gigantic studio (that’s visible from space) and the studio manufactures all sorts of drama and ways to keep him on the small island he resides in.
EdTV was more about a man who films his life 24/7 and while that seemed like a completely strange concept at the time (to the point that it took the world by storm, in the film) it’s something that we’re completely used to in 2017. One could actually blame these films for the birth of reality TV.
And if that’s the case, we should never forgive Carrey and McConaughey for the plague.
7. Despicable Me (2010) vs. Megamind (2010)
Both Despicable Me and Megamind were released in or around the Summer’s of 2010 and focused on supervillains who turned evil because of bad upbringing. They both end up being seduced to the good side to defeat an even worse bad guy.
Despicable Me is the first major feature from Illumination Entertainment — also known for this year’s Sing as well as The Secret Life of Pets and Hop. That film ended up bringing in almost $550 million at the box office against a $69 million dollar budget.
Megamind cost over twice as much — with its star-studded cast — at $130 million dollars. The Dreamworks Animation blockbuster made considerably less but was still successful, bringing in over $320 million dollars at the global box office. The film starred Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, David Cross and Brad Pitt.
Meanwhile, Despicable Me starred Steve Carrell, Kristen Wiig, Will Arnett, Russell Brand and Jason Segel. Despicable Me spawned a franchise with the third film being released this year and the Minions spawning their own franchise.
It turns out that both Illumination Entertainment and Dreamworks Animation are both subsidiaries of NBCUniversal, which means that they were copying their own stuff at the end of the day.
6. Capote (2005) vs. Infamous (2006)
Truman Capote was one of the most famous and influential writers of the 20th Century and his magnum opus was a book called In Cold Blood. It was a departure from the fiction that had made him famous; a true crime novel about the murders of the Clutter family that occurred in 1959 in the small farming community of Holcomb, Kansas.
When Capote learned of the murders — before suspects were named or captured — he decided to travel to Kansas and write about them. He was accompanied by his childhood friend and fellow writer Harper Lee, famous for writing To Kill a Mockingbird.
In Cold Blood is widely considered to be the first non-fiction book ever. Perhaps unlike most entries on this list, though, both of these films are good movies. But because the first release, Capote, had the Oscar-nominated performance from Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote, it overshadowed the Toby Jones version in Infamous.
Considering the fact that Hoffman won the Oscar for that role, it’s hard to say that it wasn’t the better movie but at least some did. Rex Reed, who is one of the more acclaimed movie critics even went so far as to say that they gave the Oscar to the wrong Capote in his write-up for Infamous.
Reed stated that Hoffman was doing an impression while Jones became Capote.
5. Batman v. Superman (2016) vs. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
2016 was the year of superhero infighting and also a huge year for DC/Warner Brothers as Superman and Batman were shown on film together for the first time in history. On the other side of things, Captain America: Civil War, a film was about 8 years in the making.
While it did make some sense from a plot standpoint, BvS was less well received than Civil War. If you watch both movies, though, you’ll notice that they have a ton in common from a plot perspective.
Both films show how the death of a billionaire’s parents shape their worldview. Both films deal with the collateral damage from an event. And both films deal with a puppet master, whose goal is to pit heroes against one another because he can’t beat them on his own.
There’s like seven or eight more striking similarities but because Civil War is so much more coherent — with over ten films leading up to it — you don’t really notice the similarities until they’re pointed out to you.
4. The Zodiac (2006) vs. Zodiac (2007)
Perhaps the most famous author of unsolved serial murders ever, the Zodiac killer terrified the Bay Area in Northern California during the 60’s and 70’s while taunting both the police and the media.
Both films were released about 9 months apart from one another. The second film is so much better known that it sort of swallowed up the previous one. The first film, titled The Zodiac, cost $1 million dollars to produce while the second film titled Zodiac cost $65 million dollars.
Both begin similarly, focusing on the shooting of two teens Darlene Ferrin and Mike Mageau at a lovers’ lane in Vallejo California — Ferrin died while Mageau survived. The first Zodiac film focuses mainly on one of the main detectives in the case, Police Detective Matt Parish and his “obsession” with solving the case.
The second flick focuses on the entire police effort and the relationship that the Zodiac killer had with the press — at one point even threatening to kill the crime reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, Paul Avery. The second film made a serious case for the identity of the killer.
3. United 93 (2006) vs. Flight 93 (2006)
There’s perhaps no part of the horror that was September, 11th 2001 that sounded more like a script to a movie than the events of United Flight 93. That was the flight that was reportedly crashed in a field in Pennslyvania after a group of passengers stormed the cockpit after learning of the fate of the other hijacked planes.
They attempted to overtake the hijackers and hopefully land the plane themselves — with the help of a pilot who happened to be onboard. One of the films was a made-for-TV event (Flight 93) while the other was a major motion picture (United 93).The films are pretty much the same thing just with different production values.
The motion picture version was released to general critical acclaim upon release and made $76 million dollars against a budget of just $15 million. As with any film based on historical tragedies, these films weren’t without some controversy, especially considering how soon they were released after the events themselves.
For example, in the film United 93 one of the passengers is seen as somewhat of a coward, arguing for appeasement over action. That character was based on a real man, Christian Adams, whose widow didn’t help with the production of the film because it was too emotionally painful for her.
While the actor defended the character, it’s probably not a great move to make someone look like a coward during one of the worst events in the history of a country for no other reason but to create tension in a movie. Either way, both films are done very well and are extremely hard to watch, even coming up on 20 years after the events depicted.
Regardless of where you stand on whether or not the US government shot down Flight 93, of if there was even a Flight 93 to begin with, these are very powerful films and are important viewing for anyone that was too young to experience 9/11 firsthand and want to know what the nation felt that day.
2. Prestige (2006) vs. The Illusionist (2006)
As you’ve seen, 2006 was really the year of the Twin Film, with the aforementioned Zodiac and Flight 93 films. But it really hit the ball out of the park with two movies that focused on 19th century magicians in Europe. Still, the two films were much different.
The Prestige was about a rivalry between “two” magicians (Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman’s characters, with Bale actually playing a set of twin brothers). Meanwhile, The Illusionist was a fictional version of what is known as the Mayerling Incident — the murder of the Crown Prince of Austria and his lover.
While both films aim to keep their audience guessing until the very end it’s The Prestige that really nails this, incorporating some sci-fi or magical elements through technology while The Illusionist does it through Eastern mumbo jumbo.
The Illusionist made almost $90 million against it’s $16.5 million dollar budget while The Prestige made $110 million against it’s $40 million dollar budget. Do yourself a favor and watch both films. They’re worth it! Just, not back to back.
1. Finding Nemo (2003) vs. Shark Tale (2004)
You may be wondering why two animated films about anthropomorphic sea creatures top this list. It’s because it’s just one example of many in which it appeared Dreamworks was copying Pixar Animations stories.
From A Bug’s Life and Antz, Wall-E and Robots, The Wild and Madagascar, Monsters Inc. and Shrek, there seemed to be extremely similar films coming out between the two competitive studios for many years (around the beginning of 3D computer animated films).
Considering the amount of time and money that go into films like that you’d think that the two studios would do everything possible to differentiate from one another. Perhaps it was a safer bet for Dreamworks to followvup Pixar’s films with something similar.
When a studio greenlights a script, other studios get wind of the general premise. Maybe that’s why Dreamworks films come out a few months or a year after a Pixar flick. However, that’s really not the “Why?” but rather the “How?” in the equation.
Either way, it appeared to have worked for them initially. And while they’ve branched out to do more “original” work, it was always quite the “coincidence” back in the day to see movies that always felt like cheap rip-offs.