14 Times Movies With The Same Plot Were Released in the Same Year


The Big Picture

  • Movies with similar themes released in the same year often face competition in terms of critical reception and box office success.
  • Examples like “Armageddon” and “Deep Impact” or “Antz” and “A Bug’s Life” demonstrate how movies with comparable stories can co-exist.
  • The quality and popularity of rival movies can vary, but it’s always interesting to see how they compare when released within the same timeframe.

An entertaining phenomenon in the world of cinema is when two very similar movies get released in the same year. Perhaps both are chasing the same kind of trend, or responding to some idea or premise that’s popular for its time, or it could well just be coincidental, in some cases. Whatever the reason, it happens surprisingly often, leading, quite naturally, to a sense of competition regarding critical reception and box office takings.

Each of the following pairings represent examples of this happening, and can all be seen as rival movies released in the same 12-month window, telling comparable stories or dealing with very similar themes. It’s certainly arguable that time has been kinder to some than others, yet certain movies caught in one of these double-ups have been able to co-exist, which is admittedly always nice to see.

‘Armageddon’ and ‘Deep Impact’ (1998)

Broadly speaking, Armageddon and Deep Impact are both movies that deal with huge asteroids approaching Earth, and posing a danger to all of humanity. Furthermore, both have narratives involving missions to destroy planet-ending asteroids before they collide with Earth, though admittedly, things branch off after that.

Armageddon is a little goofier and more outlandish, having a crew of oil rig workers trained to become astronauts in a short amount of time, while Deep Impact has more qualified astronauts given the dangerous outer space mission. Still, there are plenty of similarities between these two blockbusters, and enough to make the fact that both came out in 1998 pretty amusing. For those who like their sci-fi movies mixed with the disaster movie genre, both movies are probably worth checking out.

‘Antz’ and ‘A Bug’s Life’ (1998)

Computer-animated movies about ants

Antz & A Bug's Life - 1998

1998 wasn’t just the year of rival asteroid movies. It was also the year that saw the release of two animated movies about adventuring ants battling other insects. One was Antz, which follows one worker ant getting wrapped up in a war against a termite army, and the other was A Bug’s Life, which is about one worker ant enlisting the help of circus performers to help defend his colony against brutish grasshoppers.

It’s safe to say that even though the latter isn’t one of Pixar’s most beloved movies, it is the better of these two 1998 ant-centric movies, being a fun and kid-friendly take on Seven Samurai or the Three Amigos. Neither are absolutely essential computer-animated movies by any means, but if you have to watch one, it’s better to go with A Bug’s Life., as neither the voice-work of Gene Hackman nor Sylvester Stallone can save Antz.

‘Chasing Liberty’ and ‘First Daughter’ (2004)

Chasing Liberty-First Daughter
Image Via Warner Bros/20th Century Fox

The only thing worse than a movie flopping is a movie flopping twice, which is what happened when First Daughter and Chasing Liberty were both released in 2004. The pair are almost interchangeable, and tell the story of Presidential daughters who long to free themselves of the constraints of the White House and the Secret Service agents that constantly follow them.

Our first daughters both attempt to break free and live their own lives, but inadvertently fall in love with a man who turns out to be a Secret Service agent covertly protecting them. After moviegoers and critics alike had shown their distaste for Chasing Liberty, First Daughter‘s release date was pushed to be slightly further away, but it didn’t help how the film was received when it finally did release, which was also to terrible reviews and a rebuke from the audience.

‘The Illusionist’ and ‘The Prestige’ (2006)

Illusion-centric movies

The Illusionist & The Prestige - 2006

It was a magical time to be a fan of magic-related movies in 2006, it seems. Both The Illusionist and The Prestige have stories set towards the end of the 1800s, with each centering on magicians who get involved in complex, twist-filled stories that emphasize mystery and intrigue throughout.

Granted, The Illusionist does place more of an emphasis on romance, and the cards are stacked in The Prestige’s favor owing to the fact that its cast contains Michael Caine, but both movies are generally considered quite good. Most would say The Prestige has the edge, but both have enough to offer to make devoting time to each a worthwhile endeavor.

‘Olympus Has Fallen’ and ‘White House Down’ (2013)

“Mr. President, look out!” movies

Olympus Has Fallen & White House Down - 2013

Two movies about the White House being taken over by terrorists were released in 2013, and not only that, both had similar titles, too. Olympus Has Fallen sounds a good deal like White House Down, to the point where it can be hard to differentiate them.

Indeed, both play out a bit like Die Hard if it was set inside the residence/workplace of the President of the United States, with Gerard Butler playing the hero in the former, and Channing Tatum being the hero of the latter. Furthermore, Aaron Eckhart is the President in Olympus Has Fallen, and Jamie Foxx is the President in White House Down. Beyond trying to associate certain actors with each one, it’s honestly hard to remember which one is which.

‘Dante’s Peak’ and ‘Volcano’ (1997)

Movies about how scary volcanoes are, pretty much

Dante's Peak & Volcano - 1997

Just like fans of asteroid-related movies were spoiled for choice in 1998, fans of movies about volcanoes had a good year in 1997. This was because two big-budget disaster movies about such natural disasters came out that year: Dante’s Peak and Volcano (funnily enough, neither were released during the summer movie season).

The former’s set in Washington and tries to be a little more scientifically accurate than most disaster movies, while the latter’s set in California and isn’t afraid to be more of an over-the-top popcorn flick. There are differences, sure, but given both are about volcanoes and saw their release in 1997, it’s hard not to mention one without bringing up the other. As for picking a winner? Neither’s particularly amazing, but Volcano does feature Tommy Lee Jones, whose presence is always appreciated.

‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ and ‘Mirror Mirror’ (2012)

“Modern” adaptations of a familiar story

Hunstman-Mirror Mirror
Image Via Universal Pictures/Relativity Media

While Snow White adaptations are numerous, from the classic Walt Disney animated film to more modern adaptations like Sydney White, it’s rare for two adaptations to come out so close together. Tonally, the two films are very different; Mirror Mirror re-tells the story more traditionally, replete with elaborate costumes and beautiful scenery, while Snow White and the Huntsman opted for a darker twist on the classic fairy tale.

Apparently, this was just what audiences wanted from the familiar tale, and they flocked to see Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth battle Charlize Theron‘s evil queen to the tune of nearly $400 million worldwide – double what Mirror Mirror had acquired during its theatrical run.

‘Red Planet’ and ‘Mission to Mars’ (2000)

2000 was supposed to be the future and all

mission to mars-red planet
Image Via Warner Bros./Buena Vista Pictures

After the Y2K crisis ended in a fizzle, it seems Hollywood believed that humanity’s next step would be making it to Mars. The year 2000 saw two dueling films about sending astronauts to our neighboring planet, but both films fizzled on the launchpad, struggling to find an audience and receiving a poor critical response.

Brian De Palma‘s Mission to Mars potentially broke even, while Red Planet became a spectacular failure, losing a significant amount of money for Warner Bros due to increasing VFX and set costs and multiple release date changes alongside reports of on-set feuding between stars Val Kilmer and Tom Sizemore which allegedly resulted in a physical altercation between the two. If only they had sent Matt Damon instead, maybe they would have found more success.

‘Kick-Ass’ and ‘Super’ (2010)

Dark and violent vigilante movies

Kick-Ass & Super - 2010

Superhero movies had become steadily more popular throughout the 2000s, and then come 2008, two of the year’s biggest releases (Iron Man and The Dark Knight) both represented the genre at its peak. With that popularity came increased incentives to push superhero movies in darker, more satirical directions, in turn deconstructing and subverting genre conventions.

As such, it’s not too surprising that two movies that did just that — Kick-Ass (directed by Matthew Vaughn) and Super both came out in the same year. Both are dark, violent, and quite funny, and deal with ordinary people who lack superpowers nevertheless adopting the superhero lifestyle. Kick-Ass was more popular, but the low-budget Super might be more amusing in hindsight, given its writer/director, James Gunn, went on to direct Guardians of the Galaxy several years later.

‘Fyre Fraud’ and ‘Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened’ (2019)

Two Fyre Festival documentaries for the price of one

Fyre Fraud & Fyre_ The Greatest Party That Never Happened - 2019

Two very compelling and entertaining documentaries about the same subject were released in 2019. One was Fyre Fraud, which was released on Hulu on January 14, 2019, and the other was Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, which was released on Netflix just four days later (January 18, 2019).

Hulu may have just beaten Netflix when it came to releasing an amusing and cringeworthy documentary about the disaster that was 2017’s fraudulent Fyre Festival, but the Netflix one ultimately ended up being more popular. Still, both are fairly close when it comes to quality, and if you enjoyed one and just want to engage in a little more schadenfreude, you might as well watch the other. Perhaps two semi-comedic documentaries about comically disastrous recent events are better than one.

‘Friends With Benefits’ and ‘No Strings Attached’ (2011)

Movies about being friends with benefits with no strings attached

Friends With BenefitsNo Strings Attached
Image Via Sony Pictures Releasing/Paramount Pictures

Back in 2011, relationships between two friends that also have sex but stay “just friends” were apparently all the rage, with Hollywood producing two romantic comedies with the same plot. The two films are so similar it is hard to distinguish between them. They both star two good-looking singles (Friends with Benefits boasts Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, while No Strings Attached stars Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher) who decide to embark on a strictly physical relationship but before long, they realize that casual sex might not be so casual.

It seems audiences had trouble separating the two as well, as the films have almost identical star ratings on IMDb, and both made around $150 million at the box office. This same plotline would feature yet again – but this time in real life – and with a star of each film! Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher were long-term friends for years after starring on That ’70s Show and are now married. Talk about life imitating art!

‘Despicable Me’ and ‘Megamind’ (2010)

In 2010, it seems that everybody wanted to rule the world

Despicable Me and Megamind
Images Via Universal Pictures / Paramount Pictures

In 2010, two computer-animated kids movies starring well-known comedians would go head-to-head; one would go on to spearhead its own franchise filled with sequels and spinoffs, and the other would be known as an underrated gem. That’s right– Illumination’s Despicable Me and DreamWorks’ Megamind debuted a mere four months apart! The Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy co-stars, Steve Carell and Will Ferrell, star in these computer-animated tales about these self-appointed villains whose plans for taking over the world lead them to discover what they’ve been missing.

For Gru (Carell) in Despicable Me, it takes adopting three orphan girls to melt his aspirations for world domination. Meanwhile, for Megamind (Ferrell), training his replacement archenemy (Jonah Hill) and falling for Roxanne, voiced by Tina Fey, makes him realize he can be the hero. You’d think it would be exhausting rooting for these anti-heroes back-to-back, but both movies are hilarious yet surprisingly heartfelt.

‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ and ‘Captain America: Civil War’ (2016)

Superheroes fighting other superheroes

Batman v. Superman & Captain America_ Civil War - 2016

Superhero movies had become all the rage by the 2010s, after ascending in popularity throughout the 2000s. On both the MCU and DCEU sides of things, things got very ambitious in 2016, as the year saw two monumental releases about heroes clashing: Captain America: Civil War for the MCU, and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice for the DCEU.

It’s pretty obvious which heroes clashed in the latter, but in the former, it was primarily Iron Man and Captain America, with certain members of the Avengers picking sides before things got heated/physical. Civil War did better than Dawn of Justice critically and commercially, meaning that ironically, two “versus” movies fought each other in 2016, with one ultimately coming out on top. When it came to the DCEU tackling this kind of story, the results here were regrettably messy.

‘Hercules’ and ‘The Legend of Hercules’ (2014)

Doesn’t take a genius to work out who these two movies are about

Hercules & The Legend of Hercules - 2014

It’s not clear who was asking for not one, but two live-action Hercules movies in 2014: whether people wanted it or not, that’s what the world did indeed get that year. Hercules got mixed reviews and starred Dwayne Johnson in the titular role, while The Legend of Hercules got significantly worse reviews and had Kellan Lutz in the lead role.

It was the case where the better-reviewed movie also did better at the box office, though it’s also safe to say that neither is particularly well-remembered nor held up as any kind of classic today. Hercules-related movies already peaked in 1997 with the Disney animated film – why bother trying to go the distance against perfection?


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