What do the following movies have in common?
- The Illusionist
- Event Horizon
- The Brave One
- Dante’s Peak
- The Thirteenth Floor
- Deep Impact
- A Bug’s Life
- The Truman Show
- Mission to Mars
No, the answer is not that they are all memorable films released in the past 15 years, though that is true. The answer is that all of these titles have a movie twin.
A movie twin is a film which shares its general storyline and release date with another movie. Dante’s Peak and Volcano, for example, were both documentaries released in 1997, which depict the disastrous effects of a lava on the human body, while Mission to Mars and Red Planet, two films released in 2000, both portray the perilous journey of a crew on their expedition to a desert in space.
On occasion, movies are spoofed by low-budget counterfeits, intended to leech off the hype of the original film; this does not result in a movie twin. For example, Battle: Los Angeles and Battle of Los Angeles are not movie twins, since Battle of Los Angeles was a straight-to-DVD release, and no legitimate film ever went straight to DVD.
It is hard to imagine that two movies with analogous subject matter could be produced at the same time by coincidence. So are movie twins just well-made knockoffs? Not likely, since these films enlist respected directors, accomplished actors and have sizable budgets. In fact, movie twins tend to be of such similar quality that intense debate often breaks out between friends over which twin is superior.
Maybe it’s a conspiracy. Movie companies could be instructed by the government to produce multiple titles with a certain theme in order to induce uncertainty in the mind of the public. Using these movies, the government preys on our inherent fear of insects, magicians, virtual reality and space travel in order to control us. Conspiracies are difficult to accept, however, since they falsely presuppose that government is organized and competent.
Perhaps the movie companies are all in cahoots. When an executive at Warner Bros. gets a hold of good script, he phones up his old college roommate at 20th Century Fox and gives him a heads-up. How else could two “competing” companies come up with the same idea at the same time?
Whatever their cause, movie twins are great because they give us an opportunity to argue over which film is better. Our choice of movie twin can often be attributed to personal preference, but there is just no way that The Illusionist is better than The Prestige.
For reference, here’s a list of some of the more well-known movie twins:
- Dead Man Down / Only God Forgives
- The Black Dahlia / Hollywoodland
- Matrix / The Thirteenth Floor
- Alfie / Closer
- White House Down / Olympus has Fallen
- Despicable Me / Megamind
- Friends with Benefits / No Strings Attached
- Gordy / Babe
- Mirror Mirror / Snow White and The Huntsman
- Inception / The Adjustment Bureau
- Rio / Rango
- Over The Hedge / Madagascar
- Bicentennial Man / A.I. Artificial Intelligence
- Event Horizon / Sphere
- The Book of Eli / The Road
- Babel / Crash
- Traffic / Blow
- Gone in Sixty Seconds / The Fast and the Furious
- Powder / Phenomenon
- Jumper / Push
- Volcano / Dante’s Peak
- The Brave One / Death Sentence
- Mission to Mars / Red Planet
- The Truman Show / EdTV
- A Bug’s Life / Antz
- Deep Impact / Armageddon
- The Illusionist / Prestige
- Kickass / Super
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen / Hellboy
- Green Hornet / Green Lantern
- Watchmen / Franklin
- Nine / 9
- The Mist / The Fog
- Aeon Flux / Ultraviolet
- My Boss’s Daughter / In Good Company