Hollywood deja vu: 5 dueling movie plots
Updated On: Mar 28 2012 08:00:00 PM HST
Mirror, mirror on the wall, which of the new Snow White-themed movies will be the fairest of them all? When all is said and done, it's most likely that Walt Disney's animated classic "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" will remain as the film upon which all other Snow White movies will be judged.
But that at least hasn't stopped Hollywood from trying.
In a peculiar bit of timing, two Snow White movies will hit the big screen in as many months -- "Mirror Mirror," starring Lily Collins as Snow White and Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen this Friday; and "Snow White and the Huntsman" on June 1, starring new "Twilight" vamp Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth ("Thor") in the title roles, and Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen.
Of course, this isn't the first time movies with similar characters or themes have been released within close proximity of one another, and it likely won't be the last.
Here are five other films that also came in pairs ...
No. 5: "Dante's Peak"/"Volcano"
Move over Mount St. Helens: 17 years after the stratovolcano's catastrophic eruption in 1980 in the Pacific Northwest, two movies about magma were the hot properties in Hollywood.
In a break between his first and second James Bond films, Pierce Brosnan starred in "Dante's Peak" as a vulcanologist (shouldn't that role have gone to Leonard Nimoy?) in a fictional small town in the Pacific Northwest threatened by a looming volcano.
"Volcano," on the other hand, starred Tommy Lee Jones, and the film went for the whole can of beans by brewing a volcano in downtown Los Angeles. The latter apparently impressed Time magazine so much that the DVD's review blurb declared, "You'll Have a Hell-Lava Time!" (Maybe the magazine was just giddy over the real-life promise of the tagline of the film: "The Coast is Toast").
In the end, "Dante's Peak" and "Volcano" at the very least averted financial disaster and became moderate hits at the worldwide box office.
No. 4: "Mission to Mars"/"Red Planet"
Fulfilling movie fans' apparent need to voyage to the outer reaches, Hollywood created a space race in 2000 with its sights set on Mars.
There's no question that both films -- ''Mission to Mars" and "Red Planet" -- had the makings of hits. They each boasted solid casts: Tim Robbins, Gary Sinise and Connie Nielsen ("Gladiator") starred in "Mission to Mars"; while "Red Planet's" crew included Val Kilmer, Simon Baker (in his pre-"Mentalist" days) and "Matrix" star Carrie-Anne Moss.
In the end, however, the film's similar themes (manned Mars missions gone awry) didn't compel audiences, and both films ended up in the, well, red.
"Mission to Mars" made $60 million domestically against a reported $100 million budget, while "Red Planet" scored only $17.4 million domestically against its reported $80 million budget. Talk about two ill-fated trajectories.
No. 3: "Capote"/"Infamous"
Based on legendary author Truman Capote's research while writing "In Cold Blood," the films "Capote" and "Infamous" are near mirror images of each other, despite coming nearly a year apart.
Although "Capote" and "Infamous" were released in 2005 and 2006, respectively, film fans mostly remember the earlier one because of Phillip Seymour Hoffman's Oscar-winning portrayal of the title character -- a writer strikes up a close relationship with Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr.), in prison for taking part in killing of Kansas farm family in 1957. Catherine Keener also starred as Harper Lee, Capote's research assistant who went on to pen the literary classic "To Kill a Mockingbird."
The basis of "Infamous" was virtually the same -- except Toby Jones starred as Capote, Sandra Bullock as Lee and future James Bond star Daniel Craig as Smith. Despite the film's impressive cast, the film suffered from an inevitable "been there, done that" stigma in Hollywood and only saw a limited release in theaters.
No. 2: "No Strings Attached"/"Friends with Benefits"
Hollywood apparently was ready for a sexual revolution in 2011, deciding that it was time for not one, but two romantic comedies exploring the unforeseen emotional difficulties of two friends having "benefits" with one another.
First out of the gate was "No Strings Attached," a title that played on a term that implied two good friends (Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher) could have a sexual relationship without the word "love" ever entering the equation. Up next was "Friends with Benefits," where two friends (this time Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake) also struck up a similar agreement.
While "No Strings Attached" was the bigger box office hit, "Friends with Benefits" will probably be remembered longer not for what happened on-screen, but off. While promoting the film, Kunis accepted a YouTube invitation from a solider to attend the Marine Corps Ball, and Timberlake followed suit with a similar invite.
Both made good on their promises and attended with the ceremonies with their dates -- as friends (and presumably the mention of benefits weren't brought up).
No. 1: "Armageddon"/"Deep Impact"
Nothing gets Earthlings buzzing more than news of a "near-miss" by a giant meteor, and filmmakers Mimi Leder and Michael Bay helped paranoid moviegoers confront those fears in 1998.
While the two films were different in tone -- "Deep Impact" was straight-up serious, while "Armageddon" sprinkled some comedy in with the action -- the films were fundamentally the same: the U.S. takes initiative to fly shuttles toward an Earth-bound massive meteor, land on it and detonate it into particles before it has a chance at impact.
The similar themes didn't detract each film with becoming a hit with moviegoers. Of course, booming special effects and memorable casts didn't hurt. Morgan Freeman starred as the U.S. president and Robert Duvall as a space shuttle commander in "Deep Impact"; while Bruce Willis was the leader of a bunch of roughneck oil drillers in "Armageddon."
And while Ben Affleck took a hit, critically, for his acting opposite Willis in the latter, he got to have the last laugh years later for striking gold as director of such films as "Gone Baby Gone" and "The Town" (thus preventing a career Armageddon).
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