Back in January, when Paramount Pictures announced the official greenlight for a Ghostbusters reboot with an all-female cast, it seemed to piss off a whole lot of idiot men. Some guys just couldn’t wrap their tiny, little brains around the idea that a movie they held dear with such childhood nostalgia could be changing (a.k.a. evolving) so drastically. When the brilliant casting choices of Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Cecily Strong, and Leslie Jones were announced, you’d think someone told these meninists that someone was peeling the decal of Calvin pissing on a Prius logo right of their trucks. As if the Real Ghostbusters cartoon or Bobby Brown’s cameo in Ghostbusters 2 didn’t already tarnish the comedic genius of the original movie.
But, whether it was in response to this absurd testosterone-centered whining or just a profit-minded follow-up, it seems Paramount has now put a SECOND new Ghostbusters movie into pre-production. This one stars Channing Tatum and, for lack of a better word, is shaping up to be an “all-male version” of the reboot. Other than being completely embarrassed by my gender’s lunacy, I also see this decision as a real weird business move. Having two different Ghostbusters movies come out in the same year and allowing both to live separately in different (or really the same) worlds, feels so awkward and confusing I can’t help but think it could sink both films before they’re even shot. But this dilemma got me thinking: The phenomenon of releasing two different movies with the same subject around the same time is nothing new (although Ghostbusters would be rare since they’d be from within the same studio). It’s happened numerous times in history, where two production companies race to get their film out first, only to cloud the marketplace simultaneously and confuse moviegoers into a state of, “Fuck it, I’m seeing neither.” It also usually creates a dichotomy where one is just purely better than the other. Like when a family has twins.
I figured now would be a good time to list off some of these same twin movie examples and talk about just how dumb it was that so many of these identical flicks were made while we’re still waiting for another MacGruber movie. Get ready to see double as we recall some of the movie industry’s weirdest coincidences.
Antz & A Bug’s Life (2003)
In my mind, this one always pops up first since two animation studios spent YEARS working on a movie about insects, yet didn’t do the research to release them far enough apart to avoid comparisons. Clearly, A Bug’s Life and Pixar won this war in the same way that Britney Spears beat out Willa Ford, but, in retrospect, that’s a real shame. Antz is a children’s cartoon that stars the voice of Woody Allen, which, yes, is kinda problematic considering the age of his most recent bride and the alleged molestations he’s committed, but it’s still worth noting since I don’t think anyone saw Annie Hall and thought, “This dude is animated gold.” Antz is also a dense metaphor for differing governments around the world (mostly focusing on Communism vs. Democracy) and is just an overall better movie than A Bug’s Life. I see how it’s not as marketable or able to become a Disneyland ride (I can’t imagine “featuring the voice of the man who brought you The Purple Rose of Cairo” interesting many young’ns), but with the recent success of layered kid’s movies like The Lego Movie and Up, you have to think Antz was both ahead of its time AND too late. Especially since an equally neurotically Jewish Albert Brooks would later become everyone’s favorite paternal fish in Finding Nemo. Timing is everything and Antz was stuck under a magnifying glass and the sun right from the jump.
Armageddon & Deep Impact (1998)
Both movies depicted the end of the world by meteor, but in reality, the only disaster was Deep Impact’s performance (and lessened significance) against Jerry Bruckheimer’s slow-mo, high budget version. Not that either attempt did shabby at the box office (Armegeddon netted $553 million, Deep Impact $349 million), but it seems like people only remember the top earner, boasting names like Willis, Affleck, Buscemi, Billy Bob, and Owen Wilson in its cast. On the other hand, Deep Impact cast tiny and delicate Elijah Wood to save the world. Though, it did feature Morgan Freeman as the nation’s tested president well before “Yes, we can” was a thing. So maybe Armageddon won the race, but Deep Impact helped race…ism.
Prefontaine & Without Limits (1997/1998)
There were TWO biographical movies made about Olympic runner Steve Prefontaine, yet only one about Abraham Lincoln. Chew on that for a second. Honestly, I didn’t see either of these movies, so I can’t comment on which one is better, but I will let you know that this type of excess is ridiculous. Unless both movies are 5 minutes long, each describing in detail how he was the first athlete to get free product and an endorsement from Nike (he was), then save me the time. I imagine two sets of film executives just screaming at each other on the phone, “YOU ALSO HAVE A PREFONTAINE MOVIE! FUCK YOU! STOP MAKING YOURS!” Then they’d both hang up, sigh and ask, “What am I doing with my life? It’s a running movie.”
Capote & Infamous (2005/2006)
TWO movies about Truman Capote in 365 days, but not one about Marvin Gaye yet. Another thing to ponder. The pair reminds me of how supermodel Giselle Bundchen has a twin sister. It can’t be easy being the twin sister of a woman who’s considered one of the world’s best looking women in the world. Both are attractive, but one is clearly better looking. Capote was the Giselle and Infamous was the other sister whose name I’m too busy to Google right now. The late Phillip Seymour Hoffman played the lead character in Capote, earning him an Academy Award for the turn, while the voice of Dobby the House Elf from the Harry Potter movies played the author in Infamous. This just wasn’t a fair, or sensible, fight to have in the first place.
Big, Vice Versa, 18 Again! & Like Father, Like Son (1988/1988/1988/1987)
Body switching movies are no new thing, but in just 365 days, we encountered a rare movie quadruplet where four flicks depicted an older man and younger teen exchanging bodies. It’s just insane. Big saw American treasure Tom Hanks morph into a teenager; Vice Versa involved Judge Reinhold and Fred Savage swapping; 18! Again allowed George Burns to become a much younger, creepy cigar smoker; and Like Father, Like Son paired Kirk Cameron and Dudley Moore for the trade. LITERALLY THE SAME MOVIE. FOUR TIMES. At least Lady Gaga waited 30 years to fully imitate Madonna. There’s only one GREAT film in the bunch and that’s Big, catapulting itself into classic status for me, while the other three were basically garbage cans.
Here are some rapid-fire twin movies since there have been THAT many over the years and I want you to understand this epidemic in bulk:
United 93 & Flight 93 (2006)
Did we NEED two competing 9/11 films? Ironically, I completely forgot about both these movies.
The Prestige & The Illusionist (2006)
This is a real bummer, since the onslaught of magician movies in 2006 buried both these motion pictures, and The Prestige is an AMAZING movie. It’s Christopher Nolan’s best movie. No, it’s not one of the Batmans, nerd.
Dante’s Peak & Volcano (1997)
Two blockbuster volcano disasters movies were released in 1997, yet not one since. That should tell you how these fared. Volcano is about the La Brea Tar Pits exploding, which is regionally funny because everyone in Los Angeles knows nothing cool ever happens at the La Brea Tar Pits.
Chasing Liberty & First Daughter (2004)
Twin movies about dating the daughter of the United States President? THAT’S THE MOST SPECIFIC SHIT EVER. How do two studios create that same exact premise and not see it coming? In high school, if I thought someone else in my class was going to wear a San Antonio Spurs Dennis Rodman jersey, then I wouldn’t wear mine. I don’t want to look like fucking twins. That’s embarrassing. These people are spending millions of dollars on their jerseys and looking like best friends on the 1st day of classes. Shaking my damn head.
Mirror, Mirror & Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
Two retellings of the classic fairy tale Snow White came out 3 years ago, proving that unoriginality also exists while recycling. These both ate poisonous apples.
Platoon & Full Metal Jacket (1986/1987)
Only one was sampled on 2 Live Crew’s “Me So Horny” though.
Top Gun & Iron Eagle (1986)
I think we all know how this battle ended up, Goose.
Showgirls & Striptease (1995/1996)
Not mad at these two though. Helped me get through puberty.
The list goes on and on. And with two live action Jungle Book movies on the horizon, it doesn’t look like things will change any time soon. So when someone complains that Hollywood lacks creativity and originality, tell 'em they’re right and keep walking. It’s just not an argument you can win in the long run. All you need to do is Google Gremlins, Critters, and Ghoulies and you’ll slowly open a Pandora’s Box you’ll never be able to close again.