Seeing Double: almost identical films released at the same time

These are clashes that didn’t need to happen – rival studios staring at each other, refusing to blink.

In 1998, Earth-killing asteroids were blown up in the blink of an eye by nuclear warheads, not once but twice, in Armageddon and deep impact. That same year, animated insects appeared on cinema screens in Antz and The life of an insect – and just a year earlier, dueling lava flows erupted in Dante’s peak and Volcano.

And in 2013, Jesse Eisenberg starred in Doubleand Jake Gyllenhaal in Enemyeach as a man tormented by his double (and wouldn’t you know that Enemy was based on a novel titled…wait for it… Double.)

Hollywood is not a big city. Everyone knows what everyone else is doing, and movies that cost millions of dollars take many people and many months to develop. However, they still found themselves in 87/88 with four body-changing comedies: George Burns shot 18 Again!; fathers Judge Reinhold and Dudley Moore each switched places with sons in Vice versa and Like father, like son, respectively; and in Big, an amusement park wish turned a little boy into Tom Hanks.

It is not, from a commercial point of view, smart. A film will necessarily come out the winner (only Big drew sizable crowds in this mid-’80s body-switching smackdown) and arguably no one comes out unscathed.

And even….

Here’s a (far from definitive) list of 50 concept twins who clashed for no apparent reason.

Identity Films of the Golden Age

Tom Hanks in Turner & Hooch and Jim Belushi in K-9.

(PictureLux/The Hollywood Archive and Everett Collection, Inc./Alamy


Courtesy of NPR)

The Scarlet Empress and The Ascension of Catherine the Great (1934) — Catherines Garbo and Dietrich duel

Jezebel and carried away by the wind (1938/39) – pre-war hells

Young Mr. Lincoln and Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1939/40) – Abes in training

Oscar Wilde and The Oscar Wilde Trials (1960) – where the things were Wilde

Dr Strangelove and Fail-safe (1964) – Atomic Bombs Away

Harlow and Harlow (1965) – blonde bombshell bio-pics

Yours, mine and ours and With Six you get Eggroll (1968) — widowed parents marry and merge families

bloody mom and The Grissom Gang (1970/71) – Ma Barker, Meet Ma Barker

divine spell and Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) – the greatest story ever told in music

Corvette summer and Ray (1978) – drove my Chevy to the levee

The Warriors and the wanderers (1979) – New York teenage gangs

The Howling, Wolfen and A American Werewolf in London (1981) – Owoooo!

Weird Science, True Genius and My science project (1985) – teen geek comedies

Back to the future and Peggy Sue got married (1986) – teen time travel

Turner & Hooch and K-9 (1989) – policemen and their pooches

the abyss and Leviathan (1989) – underwater horror

Dangerous Liaisons and Valmont (1988/89) – based on the same epistolary novel

Tales Told Twice in the 90s

Robin Hood and Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (1991) – Sherwood Forestry Competition

1492: Conquest of Paradise and Christopher Columbus: the discovery (1992) – 500th Birthdays Don’t Come Often

tomb stone and Wyatt Earp (1994) – shooting at the same OK Corral

Priscilla queen of the desert and To Wong Foo, thank you for everything, I love Julie Newmar (1994/95) – drag queen road trips

baby and Gordy (1995) – talking piglets live

Powder and Phenomenon (1995/96) – Extra-sensory perception at work?

Striptease and Showgirls (1995/96) – dirty dancing (pole)

Kundun and Seven years in Tibet (1997) – in-a-Dalai-Lama-da-vida

Volcano and Dante’s Peak (1997) – Eruptive Dysfunction

Armageddon and deep impact (1998) – big balls of fire

Antz and The life of an insect (1998) – animated insects

The Truman Show and EDtv (1998/99) – reality TV, but for real

The matrixeXistenz and The thirteenth floor (1999) – reality as computer simulation

Doubling for the new millennium

Mission to Mars and Red Planet were both created in 2000.

Mission to Mars and Red Planet were both created in 2000.

(AJ Photos/Alamy


Courtesy of NPR)

red planet and Mission to Mars (2000) – Martian Dueling Chronicles

looking for freedom and first daughter (2004) – White House teen romances

Hood and Infamous (2005/06) – Biographies of Truman Capote

Prestige and the illusionist (2006) – 19th century magician tricksters

happy feet and Surf (2006/07) – animated penguins

27 Dresses and Made of honor (2008) – bridesmaid romances

observe and report and Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009) – overweight mall comedies

Despicable Me and Megamind (2010) – animated villains

Friends with benefits and No strings attached (2011) – flings turned out good

Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) – Snow White Live

lincoln and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer (2012) – Aged Abes

Double and Enemy (2013) – a man tormented by his own doppelganger

Olympus has fallen and white house down (2013) – terrorism at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Girls Trip and Rough Night came out in 2017.

Girls Trip and Rough Night came out in 2017.

(Christophel and PictureLux Collection/The Hollywood Archive/Alamy


Courtesy of NPR)

After Earth and Oversight (2013) – apocalypse soon

It is the end, the end of the world and Rapture-Palooza (2013) – apocalypses for laughs

Daisy and Florence Foster Jenkins (2015/16) – terribly terrible opera singers

barry and South side with you (2016) – young Barack Obama

restless night and Girls trip (2017) – girlfriends partying

RBG and Based on gender (2018) – Ruth Bader Ginsburg Origin Stories

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Everything everywhere all at once (2022) – multiple multiverses

Both Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Everything Everywhere All at Once are multiverse-centric.

Both Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Everything Everywhere All at Once are multiverse-centric.

(Marvel Studios and A24


Courtesy of NPR)

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