"Twin Films” are way more common than you may think. You know the ones, movies that have literally identical plots and are released within mere months of each other. With so many scripts being shopped around Hollywood on a constant basis, it makes sense that eerily similar films may get made at the same time. There are only so many amazing premises to go around! Plus, hey, it’s better than the slew of remakes and reboot films we get every year!
It’s clear, though, that when it comes to “twin films” there is always one film that comes out on top. Whether fans respond better to it, the cast chemistry is more believable, or it just comes out first there’s undoubtedly a victor in the twin film war! If you don’t believe me, just check out the box office earnings for these films that came out the same year and told the same damn story!
(All box office numbers are the domestic gross calculated via Box Office Mojo)
Armageddon Box Office: $201,578,182
Deep Impact Box Office: $140,464,664
Not only are these movies basically identical in plot, look at those movie posters! We almost thought they were for the same film. Both films tell the story of a doomed earth with a deadly asteroid heading straight for it. The big difference? Everyone remembers Armageddon; no one remembers Deep Impact! There were minor differences, and hugely different endings (no spoilers here!) but at their core, the two films were about the same exact thing. Clearly, fans responded to their fave telling of the story at the box office!
Warner Bros. / Fox
Neither of these films was a huge hit out the gate, but they had respectable audiences for an early-’00s chick flick! They also both starred It-girls from the early aughts: Mandy Moore in Chasing Liberty and Katie Holmes in First Daughter. Both films are about the same exact thing: a rebellious First Daughter who is tired of their strict, overbearing President father. The only real difference is the type of rebellion! Moore’s character takes a sabbatical from her life in Europe but Holmes’s heads to college for a bit of free-spirited fun. But guess what? They both fall for boys with ~ secrets ~ — actually the same secret in both movies! The plot wasn’t even original for that year, considering the Disney Channel Original Movie My Date With the President’s Daughter did first daughter rebellion right the first time!
Columbia / Warner Bros.
These movies may have the same premise, but one clearly came out on top! Both films focus on silly mall cops who have to contend with trouble in their malls. Kevin James plays the bumbling, dopey Paul Blart who fights a bunch of crooks who threaten to take over his mall. Seth Rogen also plays a mall cop trying to overcome trouble in his mall (this time a wild flasher) but with more of a stoner twist. It is a Seth Rogen movie! But, it’s clear that fans were only interested in one mall cop movie and that was Paul Blart!
DreamWorks / Buena Vista
Antz Box Office: $90,757,863
A Bug’s Life Box Office: $162,798,565
Who doesn’t love a movie about talking bugs?! Clearly, everyone was into these ant-centered epics in the late ‘90s. Both films follow the journey of an ant to save his colony from destruction from some villainous presence. Oh, and they capture the eye of a female ant along the way! There are some fundamental differences, though, between the two films. Antz is a Woody Allen film (he even voices the main character!) and gets a little intense for a kids film. A Bug’s Life, on the other hand, is a Disney-Pixar film with a bit of a lighter feel and bunch of different types of fun bugs. The clear winner here was A Bug’s Life, which netted way more money, an Oscar nomination, and areas of Disneyland and Disney World centered around the movie!
Universal / Miramax
To be honest, we didn’t even know Gordy was a thing since our childhood was dominated by only one piglet and that’s Babe. Babe was an adorable, pink little pig (that totally tricked us into thinking all pigs were super cute, FYI) that herds sheep and helps all her farm buddies. Gordy was trying to save his family from a slaughterhouse in a much darker telling of a piglet tale. The box office earnings clearly speak for themselves with Babe making about $60 million more than whatever the heck Gordy was. There’s a reason Babe is still the most popular little pig of all time!
Buena Vista / Yari Film Group
Apparently 2006 as a big year for movies about magicians! The two films both follow the lives of late Nineteenth Century magicians but only one is remembered today: The Prestige. The Christian Bale fronted film not only made more money but is undoubtedly the one people look back upon fondly whereas no one really remembers The Illusionist exists. While the plots differed a bit aside from the “magician struggling with demons” idea, it turns out audiences could only deal with one magical film that year!
Buena Vista / Universal
We’re not gonna lie — we could deal with a third movie about an adorable pup helping out their policeman best friend. This is one “twin film” coincidence we’re actually cool with. Both films have cops enlisting man’s best friend to help solve some cases. Turner & Hooch is, of course, one of the most beloved Tom Hanks movie and the one everyone remembers from 1989. But, we can’t help but love K-9 too. Like we said — dogs doing anything is basically a recipe for movie success!
FilmDistrict / Sony
When you watch the trailers for these two films it’s almost impossible to tell them apart. Disgraced white men save the President amid explosions and kickass action scenes. The only difference is the actors they put in each film — Channing Tatum in White House Down and Gerard Butler in Olympus Has Fallen. It stands to question how political climate could have influenced two movies in one year to have a “save the President for mortal danger” plot! Both films performed fairly well, but Olympus Has Fallen clearly got the edge — and a sequel!
Sony / Lionsgate
The films have completely different types of leading men, different cinematography styles, and a bit of a different tone. But at their heart, these films have literally identical plots. Both movies focus on men trying to leave their dark, espionage pasts behind the but tragic events draw them back into the life. They’re both quiet men who turn out to be total badasses. The Equalizer made a bit more money (it’s that Denzel Washington magic!) but John Wick has gained a huge following and both films have spawned franchises!
Relativity / Universal
Unpopular opinion: live-action Disney princess movies are usually underwhelming and unnecessary. So when two focusing on Snow White came out in the same year it seemed like overkill. They both had interesting shifts in perspective, though, centering in on the plight of the Evil Queen and not just our heroine. Tonally the films couldn’t be more different, with Mirror Mirror affecting a lighter air and Snow White and the Huntsman taking the classic story in a grittier, darker direction. Maybe that darkness is why the film dominated at the box office and even got a sequel!
Warner Bros. / Sony
Buddy cop films are all the same. There, we said it. It doesn’t take away our love for them — but who can deny that they often have overwhelmingly similar plots? In both of these buddy cop films, two cops are complete opposites (usually one serious and one silly) have to work together on a case. They start out hating each other and then grow to love one another as partners and friends. Sure, it’s predictable, but both films make us laugh and The Other Guys even introduced us to the undying legacy of Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlburg making movies together!
Sony / Universal
What would happen to the Earth if it became uninhabitable? Both of these 2013 films ask that question as years after humanity leaves Earth humans to come back to explore what happened there. The only big difference is that in After Earth the don’t exactly mean to go to Earth, but in Oblivion, the expedition is intentional. Turns out viewers don’t actually want to see their home planet decimated and barren and neither film did great. To add insult to injury, After Earth is widely regarded as Will Smith’s worst role ever!
Paramount / Universal
There are some fundamental differences between these two films but they’re both about one simple thing: a villain becoming a good guy. Also, both of those villains have weirdly disproportionate bodies (Gru’s tiny legs in Despicable Me and Megamind’s well, mega big head!). The only big difference is how each villain turns themselves around and what their motivation is. Though both films made a good amount of money, it’s Despicable Me that has spawned an insane amount of sequels and spin-offs and given the world (for better or worst) the minions!
Sony / Paramount
The big theme of these films is actually kind of sad when you think about it: animals having to band together against the humans threatening their environment. In Open Season, the animals are trying to avoid hunters and Over the Hedge has en entire ecosystem in danger when a suburban neighborhood pops up while the animals were hibernating. At their core, both movies are telling us one big thing: humans are the biggest threat to animals that there is. Which is totally messed up! Neither have really gone down in the kids-movie hall of fame and maybe that’s for the best with these dark plots!
Paramount / Lionsgate
Who really needed a live-action Hercules film when the animated Disney version is definitely the definitive Hercules tale? Yeah, no one. And we definitely didn’t need two! But that’s what we got in 2014 and one definitely out-classed the other. While they both gave the backstory of Hercules’s life, it was Hercules starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson that made all money. Poor Kellan Lutz and his The Legend of Hercules just couldn’t get a leg up on The Rock’s powerhouse career. Both films were quickly forgotten but you know what wasn’t? Every single song from the animated version! Just sayin’.
Paramount / Sony
Personal aside: this was the first duo of films I remember seeing trailers for and wondering how they got away with making films that similar! Both movies are about a man and a woman who get sick of relationship ~drama~ and decide to get into a “friends with benefits” relationship and keep things strictly sexual. Obviously it doesn’t work out and they end up falling for each other in each film. Aside from the location, the jobs, and a few lines here and there, they are the exact same movie. Seriously. Exactly the same. Still, years later, I have no idea how they got away with it!
Sony / Focus Features
The end of the world = partying ‘til you die! Both of these films center on what would happen at the end of the world and it turns out it involves lots of drinking and a surprising amount of laughs. It also shows some of the funniest people in the world between both films having to basically be action stars as they try to fight off the apocalypse in hilarious and shocking ways. The “world is ending” craze of 2012 may be to blame for the twin films. Plus the fact that Seth Rogen and co. clearly just wanted to make a fun movie together that brought in all of your fave comedic actors (and Rihanna!) in one film. Maybe that’s why it made way more money than the funny but more modest The World’s End!
Warner Bros./Loews Inc.
These ones were separate years, but within 12 months of each other so we’ll allow it. Gone With the Wind is, without a doubt, the highest grossing film of all time if you adjust for inflation. For the ‘30s it did insane numbers, numbers that are higher than many movies that come out today! That movie and Jezebel both told stories about rebellious southern women during the Civil War era and were intentionally similar. After Bette Davis lost out for the main role on Gone With the Wind, the twin movie Jezebel was produced for her. Too bad for Davis, her film was completely overshadowed by the beloved Gone With the Wind and we’re going to be honest, we didn’t even know Jezebel existed because its twin is such a behemoth!
Columbia Pictures/Universal Pictures
These two films were released within a month of each other and kind of gave us “wild girls vacation” fatigue (except not really since they were both great!). While the plots were a bit different — Rough Night follows a bachelorette party and Girl’s Trip follows a group of adult friends who go on a trip to New Orleans — but they both deal with reuniting with your BFF’s that you don’t always get to see. While both movies were hilarious, we all remember what a huge sensation Girl’s Trip was and it introduced us to Tiffany Haddish, so it’s really the only crazy girls night movie we need!
Warner Bros./Marvel Studios
Two factions of superhero behemoths fight each other and try to determine what is best for the earth in a world where people with superpowers exist. While the plots diverge from that a bit in each movie, that’s basically the gist of what both of these comic book films are delivering. The main theme of both of these films is actually a valid one — how do we regulate superheroes? And how do we account for the damage they cause while “saving the world”? But, one film did it so much better. Despite making quite a bit at the box office, Batman vs. Superman just didn’t have the nuance or grasp of what it was trying to say the way Civil War did. Plus, those DC films just don’t compare to the MCU! Sorry, not sorry.
Walt Disney Pictures/Universal Pictures
On the surface it’s simple to see why these films are alike: anthropomorphic animals. They walk, talk, get jobs, and ,in general, act like people. But the films also dig into the idea of trying to break the mold and prove to others that you’ve got what it takes. In Zootopia, a lowly bunny is trying to prove she has the guts to be a cop in a tough city. Whereas the animals in Sing are all trying to prove themselves as singers. It’s easy to see why these two are beloved by kids and parents — they both have great themes of going after your dreams and that anything is possible.
It turns out 1973 was the year to bring the theater, and Jesus, to the big screen! Both of these movies are about the words and teachings of Jesus Christ. But unlike that other popular Jesus Christ film, The Passion, these two movies depict the religious figure in a lighter way and are full of great music! If you are any kind of musical theater geek, then both of these films hold a special place in your heart. This is a case of twin films being a good thing because it meant more secular sing-songy goodness for the kids who turned into the Broadway stars of today to fawn over!
American International Pictures/Warner Bros.
You may think these two films have little in common besides their horrifying content, but they’re actually closer in content than you may assume. Both are based on books, based on “true stories,” and about a house/hotel that drives the patriarch of the family nuts. While it’s debatable whether the events that these films are based on actually happened in these paranormal and spooky ways, there’s no denying that both of these films are hugely influential. The Amityville Horror may have made more money but both of these films have spawned other films highly inspired by them and helped usher in an amazing era for horror films!
20th Century Fox/Cannon Film Distributors
We don’t blame you if you’ve only heard of one of these “twin films.” Porky’s is revered as one of the premiere “dirty comedies” EVER. Whereas The Last American Virgin is...not. Porky’s pretty much invented the “teens wanting to get laid” genre that has given us films like American Pie and Superbad. Unfortunately, at the time, the world wasn’t ready for two horny teen films and The Last American Virgin faded into obscurity.
20th Century Fox/New Line Cinema
Hold up, in 1984 there was two big reasons to never sleep again?! Did we really need multiple films about dangers infiltrating our dreams and being able to kill us? Definitely not. It turns out viewers agreed since Dreamscape was largely forgotten. Both films divert a bit in the plot, with Dreamscape focusing on a study of sleep disorders that allows a government agent to realize the terrible things he can do with this technology. A Nightmare on Elm Street is, of course, the story of Freddy Krueger who can pop into your dreams and kill ya dead. Like I said — you’re never going to want to sleep again after seeing these movies! Only one of them has spawned an entire horror franchise, and it all started with Freddy killing a young Johnny Depp!
Warner Bros./Empire Pictures
What the heck is Ghoulies?! Excuse us for not knowing, since Gremlins was the overwhelming hit and let’s be real — we all wanted Mogwais after seeing it! Both films are about crazy little destructive monsters who start wreaking havoc on the world. The only big difference is that the Gremlins start out as cute little beasts. Maybe that’s why the Ghoulies wasn’t as big of a hit — we didn’t fall in love with their adorable faces before they started acting like nutcases! Gremlins will forever go down as one of the biggest creature features of all time, and it still makes us question even feeding ourselves after midnight!
Universal Pictures/TriStar Pictures
Time traveling was the thing in the ‘80s apparently. But there’s probably only one of these films that you know about! Back to the Future created one of the biggest movie franchises of all time. Peggy Sue Got Married kind of faded away when it came up against a behemoth like Michael J. Fox’s classic film. The big difference between the films is the intention in the past. Marty and Doc in Back to the Future try hard not change anything (but, obviously, fail a little bit!) whereas Peggy Sue (Kathleen Turner) takes advantage of her trip to the past and actively tries to change things up a bit. Box office numbers — and worldwide fandom — never lie, Marty McFly is the king of ‘80s time travel!
Paramount Pictures/TriStar Pictures
Top Gun is the movie that put Tom Cruise on the map after he played fighter pilot Maverick. But this wasn’t the only fighter pilot epic of the ‘80s and during the same year Iron Eagle was released. The film was more of a straight drama than Top Gun which injected romance and action heroism to the mix. That may be why the adventures of Maverick and Goose are still remembered to this day — and are getting the remake treatment in 2019!
20th Century Fox/Orion Pictures
These films are both about men who, after being injured in traumatic accidents, are not left to die but instead turned into half-human, half-robot walking, talking weapons. Superhero cyborgs are nothing new in cinema, but the genre took off with these two concurrent films in the mid-’80s. In RoboCop, a police officer is injured on the job and is used as an excuse to test out some burgeoning robotics technology that turns him into the titular RoboCop. The Vindicator, on the other hand, is about a scientist who nearly dies but is instead reborn as a cyborg. So, yeah, basically the exact same thing. It’s the idea that RoboCop presented that struck a chord with moviegoers, though, and ended up spawning several sequels.
Gramercy Pictures/Warner Bros.
Both of these films are based on the exact same real event. They both center on the murder spree couple Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate went on in the ‘50s. While the style and tone of each film is a bit different they both tell the same basic chain of events. They also both star Juliette Lewis as Fugate! Can you get more similar than that?! Natural Born Killers had Quentin Tarantino, Oliver Stone, and then-TV star Woody Harrelson all involved which likely contributed to its success.
Warner Bros./20th Century Fox
Apparently everyone really wanted to make Robin Hood movies in the early ‘90s (heck, The New Adventures of Robin Hood, a TV show, would premiere before the decade ended!). Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves starred Kevin Costner as Robin and the film was a critical and commercial success, even earning some awards winnings and nominations for the music! Robin Hood was a British import that followed the life of the notorious bandit who stole from the rich to feed the poor. It was Costner’s iteration that ended up dominating the box office and fans attention, though!
20th Century Fox/Columbia Pictures
Universal Pictures/New Line Cinema
Gramercy Pictures/Paramount Pictures
Miramax Films/Lionsgate Films
New Line Cinema/20th Century Fox