Nine Pairs of “Copycat” Films

Tombstone/Wyatt Earp

After Philip Seymour Hoffman's Oscar win in Bennett Miller's Capote, I imagine the folks behind an upcoming movie called Infamous are pretty worried. Why? Because their film is, like the Miller/Hoffman project, about Truman Capote writing In Cold Blood. Oops! But while this phenomenon, where two features with strikingly similar storylines go into production at the same time, is unusual for the independent film world, it's a fact of life for a studio system notoriously lacking in original ideas. Here are nine pairs of the more memorable "copycats."

  1. Deep Impact (1998) and Armageddon (1998). Comet/asteroid threatens to obliterate Earth; brave astronauts set out to destroy it.
  2. Volcano (1997) and Dante's Peak (1997). Volcanos burble up from out of nowhere, threaten local populace.
  3. A Bug's Life (1998) and Antz (1998). Two computer animated movies about the trials and tribulations of an ant colony, with a nerdy ant becoming an unlikely hero.
  4. The Truman Show (1998) and EdTV (1998). Ordinary Joes have their entire lives captured on television.
  5. Without Limits (1998) and Prefontaine (1997). Two biopics about ill-fated long distance runner Steve Prefontaine. 1997 and 1998 were sort of the golden age of copycat films.
  6. Tombstone (1993) and Wyatt Earp (1994). Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday engage in a brief but legendary gunfight with outlaws at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona.
  7. 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992) and Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992). Boring reenactments in honor of the 500th anniversary of the explorer's "discovery" of the Americas. (Both titles even use colons.)
  8. Dangerous Liaisons (1988) and Valmont (1989). Adaptations of Choderlos de Laclos' novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses, about sexual corruption in 18th century France.
  9. Big (1988), Vice Versa (1988), 18 Again! (1998), and Like Father, Like Son (1987). Infamous quartet of body-swapping comedies (old guy becoming younger and/or young guy becoming older). Guess which movie came out on top.