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