Nathan Macintosh

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Same movies at the same times. Huh?


It doesn't happen every summer, but sometimes if you're lucky – like seeing a shooting star or seeing somebody refuse seconds at a buffet – you'll see it. And when you see it, you'll be shocked, wondering how such a ridiculous mistake could have been made. Two movies that are basically the same in theatres at the same time. How could this be? Does anybody here know the giant mistake they've made!?
"Hey, guys. Do you know that you have two of the same movie playing here?"
"Huh? No. There's no way."
"There is! Look! End of the world movie, and another end of the world movie!"
"...I can't believe. I'm calling Hollywood."
This summer, it appears to be Oblivion and After Earth. Not exactly the same, but close. One is Tom Cruise as a serviceman stationed on an abandoned Earth. Morgan Freeman is around doing something. The other is Will Smith and his son who crash land on Earth one thousand years after all humans have left the planet. So – not IDENTICAL, but two movies in theatres at the same time that are both about characters being on an abandoned Earth?

The posters for these movies even look similar. Tom Cruise head beside Morgan Freeman head. A broken down Earth behind them. Will Smith head beside Will Smith son head, a broken down Earth behind them. Which team will save Earth? Or get off of Earth? Or just deal with the broken down Earth that they have found better than the other team? This happens a decent amount. You'll go to the theatre and see a poster for a movie you swear has already been made.
"'Huge Mother's Apartment'? Huh. That sounds a lot like 'Big Momma's House'. Hmmm, the tagline for the movie says, 'This Movie Is Nothing Like Big Momma's House'. Well, I'm sold!"

Why would Hollywood put out two of the same movies at the same time? Maybe it happens because they want two actors for the same movie, and instead of telling one no, they just write one for him as well.
"You gave WHO the part? But I had promised it to this guy!"
"I'm sorry. I had to make a decision today. I gave it to this guy."
"Well, you're gonna be up all night writing another romantic comedy about two bus drivers because my actor has got to be in one. I promised! How can I promise him a romantic comedy about two bus drivers and not deliver?"
"Well how the hell will I write another romantic comedy about two bus drivers?"
"Different routes? Duh."
"...No wonder you drive a better car than me."

Maybe they just wanted to see what the movie would be like starring two different groups of actors. Ever talked with someone about what it would be like if Sylvester Stallone, or another actor, starred in Jurassic Park? Or some other movie? The ol' "imagine if Arnold was in Police Academy?" conversation. Hollywood is playing that game but actually putting the movies out!
"I've got a movie about magic that Edward Norton is going to star in. It's gonna be big."
"Huh. I wonder what it would be like if Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman starred in it?"
"What? But you haven't even seen the one with Edward Norton yet."
"And I'm sure it'll be great, but hey, Christian and Hugh! Change a few words in your script and I'll get them on the phone."

Hollywood could just be putting out two of the same movie to pit actors against each other. Maybe it's to see who can draw more money. Just put two actors in identical movies at the same time and see which one an audience will go to see.
"These are both very talented men. Who do you think audiences would rather see save a city from a meteor?"
"Huh. I'm not sure. We could put both of them in a movie about meteors and see which one does better at the box office?"
"Wait, make TWO movies about a man saving a city from a meteor, see which one does better at the box office, then reward the actor with the higher grossing film by putting him in ANOTHER movie where he saves a city from meteors?"
"...Do you have a better idea?"
"...You know what? I actually don't. Ah, it really upsets me that I don't."

From asking around, apparently this is done because one movie studio doesn't want another movie studio to have a hit movie that they don't have. So movie studios buy up any type of script that they know other studios have bought up. Your studio buys a script about demonic robots? Another studio will buy a similar script. What's ridiculous is that while one studio puts theirs into production, the other studio gets jealous and does the same thing.
"Huh, starting production on your 'murderous car in small town Iowa' movie starring Liam Neeson? Well, I guess it's time to start production on our 'vengeful motorcycle in medium sized county' movie starring Jason Statham. We'll see whose vehicle does better this summer."

There are many examples of these movies. Here are a few.

Deep Impact / Armageddon. In one movie, Bruce Willis lands on a meteor and blows it up. In the other, Morgan Freeman is the president and the meteor hits earth. One teaches you that Bruce Willis is a hard ass inside or outside the ozone layer, and the shows you that Morgan Freeman would not make a good President.

The Prestige / The Illusionist. One of these movies about magic stars Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman. Hugh can't figure out how Christian does his tricks and it is driving him crazy. The other stars Edward Norton where he uses magic to win the love of an old flame. Both out in 2006, both at the same time. That's too much magic.

Dante's Peak / Volcano. This pairing could be the best. In Volcano, Tommy Lee Jones lives in LA when a volcano erupts. I would say that he stops it, but how the hell do you stop lava? In Dante's Peak, Pierce Brosnan is chilling on Dante's Peak, which is apparently the second most desirable place to live in America. But it's about to erupt! What will he do? Use his good looks to look at the volcano and say, "Not today, eruption! See how good I look!"

Who knows what the next great pairing of the same movie will be, but you can believe that it's coming.


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