The first trailer for Hercules: The Legend Begins starring The Twilight Saga’s Kellan Lutz was released this week! But wait, didn’t I just see photos of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson preparing for the same movie? That’s a DIFFERENT Hercules movie??? What the hell is going on?! With that question at hand, my open letter this week is to copycat films!
Dear Copycat Films,
What’s your deal? Seriously, I don’t get the whole “let’s make a movie that’s IDENTICAL to that one that’s being released in 2015 oh and let’s release it the same month, heck, the same day!!”. Peeps be cray, man. While each film might have EXTREMELY SUBTLE differences, you’re essentially telling the exact same story. I think you have some identity crisis issues to look into, dude. I feel like studio execs do this as a big prank on moviegoers. They’re all reclined in their $400 dollar IKEA desk chairs, in their corner offices, with their fancy complete box sets of Friends and The Harry Potter series, just cackling at all us idiots trying to remember which of the two films we actually wanted to see. A Bug’s Life! It was A Bug’s Life! Oh wait, maybe it was the one with the terrifying ant animation that’s not actually for children at all. Crap. TWO ANIMATED MOVIES STARRING CARTOON ANTS COMING OUT THE SAME YEAR?? Y U DO THIS TO ME MOVIE STUDIOS!?!?
Let’s take the two movies No Strings Attached and Friends With Benefits. First of all, we all know what each of those phrases means (not literally guys, come on) in the dating world. So, two people who are friends and who engage in a romantic relationship without the labels of boyfriend or girlfriend. Same concept, different phrasing. I’ve seen both of these movies but I only own one of them. Can you guess which one? The first one stars Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman (and…isn’t…great), the second stars Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake (and is better). Both of these films came out the same year, six months apart. SPOILER ALERT! (But I mean you’ve had a good 2 1/2 years to see these movies so…) Both films begin with the two main characters meeting, a connection sparks, they go home with each other “unintentionally”, they hash out the whole plot of the film: they both don’t want a relationship, then they hook up for a while, have a fight and then realize that they’re actually in love and they want to be together forevs. Classic, right? Yeah classic if it’s ONE FILM THAT DOES IT. I was really excited about No Strings Attached because I will forever love Ashton Kutcher (I DON’T CARE WHAT THE HATERS SAY) and of course, Natalie Portman (need I say more?). But No Strings Attached flopped (49% on Rotten Tomatoes…yikes) while Friends With Benefits soared (70%). Two films with the same exact concept but two completely different outcomes. The reason for the difference could really be anything, chemistry, casting, editing, writing, directing, etc. Whatever it was, it didn’t work as well as Friends With Benefits and the studio is now paying for it.
Maybe the issue is that studios have spies they send to other studios to get top secret info. Then the victim studio is unaware of the other making an identical film but has already poured so much money into the film that they can’t back out and they inevitably get screwed. While some studios are at fault, and we don’t know which one is the bad guy, we can’t ultimately blame BOTH studios for the copycats. Why not make something original instead of battling your competitors with the same concept movie dudes? Hollywood should focus on originality over undermining the competition and then everyone WINS!! Why can’t we all just be friends!? Other notable copycat films include: The Prestige & The Illusionist, Armageddon & Deep Impact, Babe & Gordy (both of those films win!), Chasing Liberty & First Daughter, Shark Tale & Finding Nemo (NO COMPARISON HERE GUYS OBVS), Mirror Mirror & Snow White and the Huntsman, Red Planet & Mission to Mars, Top Gun & Iron Eagle (we all know who won this matchup), Happy Feet & Surf’s Up (both awesome in their own right), The Truman Show & EDtv, The Cave & The Descent, Cop Out & The Other Guys (Will Ferrell wins everything), and most recently After Earth & Oblivion. There are definitely more but this letter is already too long, ugh.
I can’t really stop you copycat films and you’re really not so bad. As long as we keep getting awesome original content like Gravity and The Spectacular Now for example, I’ll continue to accept you for who you are.
Keep fighting the good fight!
Fraisia W. Logan
Check out the trailer for Hercules: The Legend Begins right now!