The Hollywood Ark

Hollywood is like Noah’s ark.

“You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive.” Genesis 6:19-20

Similarly, Hollywood puts movies out in twos.  Pairs of similarly-themed movies release within months or even weeks of each other and offer the public two slightly variant versions of a single story with wildly different casts.  The difference is that Noah was charged with life.  He gathered two of every bird, animal, and ground creature with the specific mandate that they be “kept alive”.  Hollywood functions as Bizarro World Noah wherein they release two of every movie and then stand to the side of the arena and place bets as to which will triumph in the death battle over box office supremacy.  And, as with Highlander, there can be only one.  Noah preserved life.  Hollywood likes to pare existing life options down to a sole victor.

Let’s peruse the evidence, shall we?  

1997
Dante’s Peak vs. Volcano

Both were large scale disaster movies.  Both imagined what would happen if an urban populated area were threatened by unexpected volcanic action.  One imagined a small mountainside town threatened by an active volcano.  The other imagined the La Brea tar pits exploding with molten lava while Wilshire Boulevard and subway lines carried lava in a devastating sweep across LA.
Dante’s Peak: total gross $178 million
Volcano: total gross $122.8 million


1998
Deep Impact vs. Armageddon

Both were, again, large scale disaster movies.  Both imagined what would happen if Earth faced obliteration by way of asteroid smack-down.  Both involved scenarios wherein Earth sends astronauts to drill and detonate the asteroids before impact.  One imagined a vaguely scientific-based half-success scenario in which Earth suffered mega tsunamis and many perished.  The other imagined Bruce Willis single-handedly saving all of Earth to a soundtrack of Aerosmith.
Deep Impact: total gross $349 million
Armageddon: total gross $553.7 million


1998
Antz vs. A Bug’s Life

Both were animated features about insect life featuring star-studded voice casts.  One involved an individualist and neurotic Woody Allen-voiced ant wanting to be more than a worker.  The other involved an individualist and heroic Dave Foley-voiced ant trying to deliver his colony from the oppression of a grasshopper gang led by Kevin Spacey.  One was Dreamworks and the other Disney/Pixar.
Antz: total gross $171.8 million
A Bug’s Life: total gross $363.4 million


2006
The Prestige vs. The Illusionist

Both were movies about magic and the magicians obsessed with their craft.  Both involved sexy assistants and clever rivalry.  One primarily revolved around passion for the ‘prestige’ and the art of the illusion itself.  The other primarily revolved around romantic love and the obtaining of it using any means.  And only one featured David Bowie as Nikola Tesla.  (Advantage The Prestige.)
The Prestige: total gross $109.7 million
The Illusionist: total gross $87.9 million


2009/2010
The Taking of Pelham 123 vs. Unstoppable

Both were movies about runaway trains.  One featured a NY subway hijacking and the other featured the accidental uncoupling of a railway train.  Both were directed by Tony Scott.  And both starred Denzel Washington.  What happens when the Highlander goes up against himself?  There can still be only one.  But my god it’s a close fight.
The Taking of Pelham 123: total gross $150.2 million
Unstoppable: total gross $167.8 million


2011
Friends with Benefits vs. No Strings Attached

Both were movies about friends who fuck.  Both featured extremely photogenic heterosexual couples.  Both featured the development of feelings after multiple casual trysts.  Both featured split ups after misunderstandings.  And both featured the previously platonic fuck buddies hooking up romantically and living happily ever after.  There is literally no difference between these films in any way except casting.  And even then one featured Mila Kunis and the other featured her real-life partner Ashton Kutcher.  THESE ARE THE SAME FILM.
Friends with Benefits: total gross $149.5 million
No Strings Attached: total gross $147.8 million


2013
White House Down vs. Olympus Has Fallen

Both were movies about one man versus a terrorist take-down of the White House.  Both starred burly actors as former soldiers in the right place at the wrong time.  Both featured destruction of the White House and surrounding areas.  One imagined the attacking terrorists were part of disgruntled radical political groups.  The other imagined the attacking terrorists were North Korean.  One was reviewed by me thusly: “Gerard Butler, having previously saved Sparta with only 300 men, decides that 299 of those men are extraneous to saving America.”
White House Down: total gross $205.3 million
Olympus Has Fallen: total gross $161 million
(Note: Despite these numbers, White House Down is considered a box office flop and Olympus Has Fallen has already spawned a sequel: London Has Fallen.  And you thought the story of Noah was baffling.)


And lest we neglect all the other notable movie pairs, let us have a moment of reflection for the lesser of each duo, the one you don’t know and haven’t seen, the one who lost in the great boxing ring that is Hollywood:

Snow White and the Huntsman vs. Mirror Mirror
Happy Feet vs. Surf’s Up
Capote vs. Infamous
Finding Nemo vs. Shark Tale
Mission to Mars vs. Red Planet
Tombstone vs. Wyatt Earp
Turner & Hooch vs. K-9
Dangerous Liaisons vs. Valmont

 

- Corinne Simpson