Hold Up: Are These Movies Actually The Exact Same Thing?

Winston Churchill starred in three movies in 2017. First came Churchill in June, a critically panned biopic that pictured a beleaguered Churchill, played by Brian Cox, awaiting the Battle of Normandy. About a month later, in July 2017, came Christopher Nolan's war epic Dunkirk, which takes place days after Churchill was sworn in as Prime Minister. Though Churchill is not actually in Dunkirk, his presence is felt. And though the battle of Dunkirk is not actually depicted in The Darkest Hour, a November 2017 movie about Churchill's early days, his looming presence is similarly palpable.
You could say this trio of Churchill, Dunkirk, and The Darkest Hour achieved a rare movie "triplet." More common, but equally uncanny, is when two movies "twin," a term for the phenomenon in which blatantly similar films come out within a short span of time, like when Antz and A Bug's Life, two animated films with essentially the same plot, premiered within a month of each other in the summer of 1998.
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Movie twinning happens all the time. Oddly enough, not one but two cartoons about yetis are coming out between September 2018 and September 2019. Did the studios conspire? Did they want to compete? Who knows. Here are movie history's most uncanny incidents of movie twinning.
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The Twin Movies: Dante's Peak (February 1997) and Volcano (April 1997)

The Similar Storyline: Years after Pompeii, we still haven't figured out how to make volcano-proof communities. Both of these movies feature towns at risk of being decimated in by a volcanic eruption.

The Favorite: Dante's Peak. Pierce Brosnan can a) Coo ABBA songs to me or b) Save me from a Washington volcano any day.

Pictured: Pierce Brosnan in Dante's Peak
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The Twin Movies: Deep Impact (May 1998) and Armageddon (July 1998)

The Similar Storyline: What can we glean from the fact that in the year 1998, two disaster movies about asteroids hurtling toward the earth came out? Maybe that our end of the world anxiety is nothing new. Armageddon was a bombastic Michael Bay affair, full of explosions and impressive special effects. Deep Impact is more subdued. The characters — with whom we develop quite an affinity for – are grappling with a collision that's years, not weeks, away. How do people's lives change with the knowledge of an impending disaster? That's the kind of existential threat Deep Impact is exploring.

The Favorite: Even if Deep Impact is a more emotionally affecting movie, Armageddon had a greater cultural impact. It's in the Criterion Collection, and it got an Aerosmith song.

Pictured: Bruce Willis in Armageddon
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Attila Dory/UA/Infinity/Baron/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock
The Twin Movies: Capote (September 2005) and Infamous (October 2006)

The Similar Storyline: Two movies, two depictions of the author Truman S. Capote in the year 1959. In this year, Capote traveled to Holcomb, Kansas, to investigate the murder of the Clutter family in their home by two men. His New Yorker article would eventually lead to a long book, In Cold Blood. In Capote (2006), Philip Seymour Hoffman is remarkable as a Capote drawn into a vortex of darkness through conversations with murderers. Infamous (2006) is a glimpse at another side of the author. Toby Jones plays a Capote entrenched the upper echelon of Manhattan society, who's more of a fish out of water when he travels to Holcomb, Kansas to investigate the trial.

The Victor: Capote, which is one of the most difficult and transportive films around.

Pictured: Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote
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The Twin Movies: Antz (October 1998) and A Bug's Life (November 1998)

The Similar Storyline: There have never been twin movies with similarities as stark as DreamWorks' Antz and Pixar's A Bug's Life, which came out within a month of each other in 1998. Both are literally about an ant that tries to impress a princess and then save his colony. The movies' similarities are no coincidence. DreamWorks and Pixar were in a race to produce their bug movie first.

The Favorite: Though Antz beat A Bug's Life to theaters, it's A Bug's Life that has remained golden.

Pictured: A Bug's Life
5 of 14
The Twin Movies: Finding Nemo (May 2003) and Shark's Tale (2004)

The Similar Storyline: Pixar and DreamWorks went head-to-head with these aquatic stories, just as they had with the A Bug's Life and Antz in 1998.

The Favorite: Finding Nemo, the movie that gave us friendly sharks, forgetful fish, and an unforgettable father-son relationship.
6 of 14
Jaap Buitendijk/Alcon/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock
The Twin Movies: Chasing Liberty (January 2004) and First Daughter (September 2004)

The Similar Storyline: It's no coincidence that two romantic comedies about presidential daughters sprouted up the same year as a presidential election (for a sitting president that had two daughters). The movies' plots are the same: The president's daughter feels trapped and decides to break free from her life of Secret Service and media appearances, à la Roman Holiday. In Chasing Liberty, Mandy Moore is the brunette daughter; in First Daughter, it's Katie Holmes. The takeaway: It's hard to have a whirlwind romance when you're the president's daughter.

The Favorite: Chasing Liberty, because she gets to run away with Matthew Goode. Swoon.

Pictured: Mandy Moore and Matthew Goode in Chasing Liberty
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The Twin Movies: The Prestige (2006) and The Illusionist (2006)

The Similar Storyline: Both of these movies aim to make magicians cool again — and actually succeed. The period pieces center on turn-of-the-century European magicians who use magic to further their ego, win over girls, and make audiences go, "Ooooh, aaahhh."

The Favorite: Maybe a controversial decision, but we're going to go with the Christopher Nolan movie, The Prestige. The movie is fueled by twists, turns, and a pretty compelling inter-magician game of one-upmanship.

Pictured: Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman in The Prestige
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The Twin Movies: No Strings Attached (January 2011) and Friends With Benefits (July 2011)

The Similar Storyline: Both of these rom-coms are concerned with the very millennial quandary of casual dating. Is it possible for two best friends to act like boyfriend and girlfriend, but not be boyfriend and girlfriend? Funnily enough, real life couple Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher each starred in one movie, making the entire twin movie thing more complicated. Also, Kunis and Natalie Portman, who had starred in 2010's Black Swan, are the romantic leads in these movies. Squint your eyes, and they're the same movie.

The Favorite: Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake win with Friends With Benefits.

Pictured:
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Universal/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock
The Twin Movies: Jobs (August 2013) and Steve Jobs (August 2015)

The Similar Storyline: Only two years after the Apple mogul's death, the biopics started pouring in. 2013's Jobs casts Ashton Kutcher from a Reed college drop-out right up until the unveiling of the iPod in 2001. The movie was criticized for glossing over Jobs' life, as if it were a "best hits" reel. Steve Jobs goes deeper into a narrower period in Jobs' life: the time before the launches of three seminal projects.

The Favorite: Steve Jobs, for being the more sophisticated portrait of a difficult but endlessly fascinating figure.

Pictured: Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs
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The Twin Movies: Marguerite (September 2015) and Florence Foster Jenkins (May 2016)

The Similar Storyline: Florence Foster Jenkins was a socialite who really wanted to sing — but really wanting to sing doesn't mean you actually can. Still, the real-life heiress was determined to devote her fortune to pursuing a career in song. Both movies are based on Foster Jenkins' life, but the Meryl Streep-led vehicle, Florence Foster Jenkins, did far better at the box office.

The Favorite: Florence Foster Jenkins — we are still amazed by Streep's performance as the deluded heiress, and Hugh Grant's as her patient husband. But we feel for the people behind Margeurite, who found out about their competition only a month before release. "One month before the shooting of Marguerite, I heard about [Florence Foster Jenkins]," said the movie's writer-director Xavier Giannoli in March 2016. "For me, it was terrible."

Pictured: Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant in Florence Foster Jenkins
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Michele K. Short/Universal/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock
The Twin Movies: Rough Night (June 2017) and Girls Trip (July 2017)

The Similar Storyline: In the summer of 2017, two groups of women went on riotous trips. They laughed. They fought. And in the case of Rough Night (2017), they accidentally killed a stripper.

The Favorite: Absolutely Girls Trip. Was there ever any question?

Pictured: Tiffany Haddish in Girls Trip
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Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock
The Twin Movies: Churchill (April 2017), Dunkirk (June 2017), The Darkest Hour (November 2017)

The Similar Storyline: 2017 was the year of Winston Churchill and WWII in the movies. Churchill and The Darkest Hour were biopics examining Churchill at different points in his tenure — Churchill in 1944, The Darkest Hour in 1940. Then, Dunkirk depicted the Battle of Dunkirk in May 1940, which takes place over the same time span as The Darkest Hour.

The Favorite: Both Dunkirk and The Darkest Hour received Oscar nods. Gary Oldman walked away with Best Actor for his work as Churchill. I guess it's a tie.

Pictured: James D'Arcy and Kenneth Branagh in Dunkirk
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Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock
The Twin Movies: Goodbye Christopher Robin (October 2017) and Christopher Robin (August 2018)

The Similar Storyline: Christopher Robin, the little boy in Winnie the Pooh, was a real person! The character was based off the son of Winnie the Pooh author A. A. Milne. In both movies, Christopher grapples with his fictional legacy. Goodbye Christopher Robin is a straight biopic, whereas in Christopher Robin, Pooh, Tigger, and Piglet revisit a grown-up Christopher to teach him how to live well again.

The Favorite: Christopher Robin, because Pooh has a starring role.

Pictured: Domhnall Gleeson and Will Tilston in Goodbye Christopher Robin
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The Twin Movies: Smallfoot (November 2018) and Abominable (November 2019)

The Similar Storyline: Within a calendar year, you'll be able to see two depictions of what a yeti might look like. In Warner Brothers' Smallfoot, out in September, Channing Tatum plays a gigantic yeti determined to leave his enchanted mountaintop and find proof of a mythical race called "smallfoots," also known as humans. Then, exactly a year later in September 2019, Chloe Bennet will play Yi, a Yeti separated from her family, in Dreamworks' Abominable. A group of kids helps her on the 3,000 mile journey home.

The Favorite: It's too early to tell, but Smallfoot looks quite hilarious.

Pictured: Smallfoot
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