They are showdowns that didn’t need to happen — rival studios staring each other down, refusing to blink.
In 1998, Earth-snuffing asteroids got blown up in the nick of time by nuclear warheads, not once but twice, in Armageddon other Deep Impact. That same year, animated insects skittered onto movie screens in app other A Bug’s Life — and just a year earlier, dueling lava flows erupted in Dante’s Peak other Volcano.
And in 2013, Jesse Eisenberg starred in The doubleand Jake Gyllenhaal in enemyeach as a man tormented by his doppelganger (and wouldn’t you know that enemy was based on a novel called…wait for it… The double.)
Hollywood is not a big town. Everyone knows what everyone else is doing, and movies that cost millions of dollars require many people and many months of development. Yet they still ended up in ’87/’88 with four body-switching comedies: George Burns turned 18 Again!; fathers Judge Reinhold and Dudley Moore each switched places with sons in Vice versa other Like Father Like Son, respectively; and in big, an amusement park wish turned a little boy into Tom Hanks.
This is not, from a business standpoint, smart. One film will inevitably come out on top (only Big attracted substantial crowds in that mid-’80s body-switching smackdown) and arguably nobody emerges unscathed.
Here’s a (far-from-definitive) list of 50 conceptual twins that went head-to-head for no discernible reason.
Golden age identi films
PictureLux/The Hollywood Archive and Everett Collection, Inc./Alamy
The Scarlet Empress other The Rise of Catherine the Great (1934) — dueling Catherines Garbo and Dietrich
Jezebel other Gone With The Wind (1938/39) – antebellum hellions
Young Mr Lincoln other Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1939/40) — Abes in training
Oscar Wilde other The Trials of Oscar Wilde (1960) – where the wild things were
dr Strangelove other fail safe (1964) – atomic bombs away
Harlow other Harlow (1965) – blonde bombshell bio-pics
Yours, Mine & Ours other With Six You Get Eggroll (1968) – widowed parents marry and combine families
bloody mom other The Grissom Gang (1970/71) — Ma Barker, meet Ma Barker
Godspell other Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) – the greatest story ever told to music
Corvette Summer other stingray (1978) — drove my Chevy to the levee
The Warriors other The Wanderers (1979) – teen NYC gangs
The Howling, Wolfen other On American Werewolf in London (1981) — Owoooo!
Weird Science, Real Genius other My Science Project (1985) – teen geek comedies
Back to the future other Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) – teen time travel
Turner & Hooch other K-9 (1989) — Police officers and their pooches
The Abyss other Leviathan (1989) — underwater horror
Dangerous Liaisons other Valmont (1988/89) – based on the same epistolary novel
Twice told tales in the ’90s
Robin Hood other Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (1991) – Sherwood forestry competition
1492: Conquest of Paradise other Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992) – 500th anniversaries don’t come often
tomb stone other Wyatt Earp (1994) – gunfight at the same OK Corral
Priscilla Queen of the Desert other To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Love Julie Newmar (1994/95) — drag queen road trips
babe other Gordy (1995) — talking, live-action piglets
powder other phenomenon (1995/96) – Extra-Sensory Perception at work?
striptease other show girls (1995/96) – dirty (pole) dancing
kundun other Seven Years in Tibet (1997) – in-a-Dalai-Lama-da-vida
Volcano other Dante’s Peak (1997) – eruptive dysfunction
Armageddon other Deep Impact (1998) – great balls of fire
app other A Bug’s Life (1998) — animated insects
The Truman Show other computer (1998/99) – reality TV, but for real
TheMatrixexistence other The Thirteenth Floor (1999) — reality as computer simulation
Doubling down for the new millennium
red planet other Mission to Mars (2000) – Dueling Martian chronicles
Chasing Liberty other first daughter (2004) – teen White House romances
Capote other infamous (2005/06) — Truman Capote bio-pics
the prestige other the illusionist (2006) — 19th Century magician tricksters
happy feet other Surf’s Up (2006/07) — animated penguins
27 Dresses other made of honor (2008) — bridesmaid romances
Observe and report other Paul BlartMall Cop (2009) — overweight mall cop comedies
Despicable Me other megamind (2010) — animated supervillains
Friends With Benefits other No Strings Attached (2011) — flings gone right
Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) — live action Snow Whites
Lincoln other Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayers (2012) – aged Abes
The double other enemy (2013) — a man tormented by his own doppelganger
Olympus Has Fallen other White House Down (2013) – terrorism at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Collection Christophel and PictureLux/The Hollywood Archive/Alamy
After Earth other oblivion (2013) – apocalypse soon
This is the end, The World’s End other Rapture Palooza (2013) — apocalypses for laughs
Marguerite other Florence Foster Jenkins (2015/16) – cluelessly terrible opera singers
barry other Southside With You (2016) — young Barack Obama
RoughNight other girls trip (2017) — girlfriends carousing
RBG other On the Basis of Sex (2018) — Ruth Bader Ginsburg origin stories
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness other Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022) – multiple multiverses
Marvel Studios and A24