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10 Great Movies Overshadowed by Similar and Bigger Movies Released in The Same Year

22 April 2016 | Features, Film Lists | by Shomo Sen

overshadowed movies

Ah, the movie business – where no idea is new and similar plots are practically everywhere. Yes, The Incredibles is Watchmen for kids, George Lucas has confirmed that Star Wars was heavily influenced from Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress. The Lion King can easily be seen as the animal version of Hamlet and there are so many action movies that share the premise of Die Hard that the phrase ‘Die Hard set in ____’ is a common trope by now (Speed is Die Hard on a bus, Air Force One is Die Hard on a plane and so on) .

Plot similarities aren’t restricted to the cinematic medium alone: James Cameron has confessed that The Terminator is inspired from Harlan Ellison stories, the first Pirates of the Caribbean film has a lot of similarities to a video game, and Quentin Tarantino; well, let’s just say that the plot similarities between his films and his favorite films are the stuff of legend.

However, sometimes the coincidences become a little too uncanny. On one hand, the plotlines resemble each other too eerily, but that is one thing: when you realize that the films were released in the same year, even the most indifferent movie lover will ask: what the hell? Can the coincidence in the following films be explained by ‘Somehow two groups of people had exactly the same idea at exactly the same time’? Could it be something else?

We might never know, but what is clear in these examples is that out of the pair, only one film reached iconic status and the other, not as much. One wonders whether the fate of these lesser-known films would have been different, had their more famous doppelgangers not existed.

 

1. 12:01 overshadowed by Groundhog Day (1993)

12 01

Coincidental premise: Man discovers that the same day is repeating for him, tries to do whatever it takes to break the loop and meanwhile, attempts to win the heart of his lady love.

Groundhog Day is obviously a timeless classic (pun intended) about cynical weatherman Phil Connors (effortlessly played by the one and only Bill Murray), who finds himself trapped in a time loop of the same day. But very few people have heard of 12:01, the ill-fated TV movie that was made in the same year and which had the misfortune of having a relatively unknown cast.

It’s an adaptation of a 1973 story and follows the misadventures of Barry Thomas, whose day endlessly restarts at one minute past midnight. He is also in love with scientist Lisa Fredericks, who is intimately connected with the reason the time loop occurred in the first place.

Beyond the obvious similarities between the two films, 12:01 is actually surprisingly good, with a scientific explanation to account for the reason the world has been frozen in time (if you have seen Groundhog Day, you know that the cause of the time loop is never mentioned).

In contrast to the bitter Phil Connors from Groundhog Day, 12:01’s protagonist is romantic, and his efforts to redeem his love are truly heartwarming. The makers of 12:01 actually believed their work was stolen by Groundhog Day, though in the last 23 or so years since the two films were released, it’s the Bill Murray version that has stood the test of time.

 

2. Antz overshadowed by A Bug’s Life (1998)

Antz

Coincidental premise: An ant that considers itself different from the rest of the ant colony, will go to great lengths to save his princess and eventually, the colony itself.

The similarities between these two animated ant capers were so obvious that a public feud resulted between two rival studios: Pixar and Dreamworks. Lasseter (A Bug’s Life) claims that at the time the Pixar film was being made, the story and plot ideas made quite a round in animation circles, and it’s not unusual for Katzenberg (Antz) to have known about them.

Whatever the truth may be, the two films are uncannily similar, though it was the Pixar film that eventually became more renowned. Antz has its own qualities – it’s less family-friendly and explores darker issues of society and totalitarianism, and also enjoyed a decent critical response in the long run.

 

3. The Thirteenth Floor overshadowed by The Matrix (1999)

The Thirteenth Floor

Coincidental premise: A man discovers, to his horror, that his present existence could be part of a virtual simulation.

Life as a simulation is nothing new as a thought. From Plato’s Allegory of the Cave to Harman’s Brain in A Vat thought experiment, mankind has always wondered about reality. 1999’s The Matrix made that thought a part of pop culture. The film spawned as much philosophical discussion as it did bullet time action sequences – a true masterpiece (and unfortunately, the only one) of the Wachowski brothers (oops, it’s actually the Wachowski sisters now).

However, not many audiences remember The Thirteenth Floor, which is basically a murder mystery that takes place with virtual simulations as its core. The film explores less action sequences and more science fiction elements like simulations within simulations and humans as programs. It’s worth a watch, and over the decades, has gone on to acquire cult status.

 

4. Megamind overshadowed by Despicable Me (2010)

Megamind-2010

Coincidental premise: Supervillain schemes to execute an evil plan, but has a change of heart.

Despicable Me is everyone’s favourite film featuring Steve Carell and minions, the beginning of a mega successful franchise whose fourth entry will release in 2017.

The film features Gru, a supervillain who, in his quest to become the most evil person ever, plans to shrink the Moon and ends up adopting three orphan girls to help in his scheme. He eventually warms up to them and decides to raise them, while the minions continue with their obsession with bananas. Kids and parents alike loved the film and the fandom doesn’t seem to be dying any time soon.

However, 2010 also saw Megamind, a not-bad-at-all animated film that wasn’t even remotely as successful as Gru’s adventures. Will Ferrell voices Megamind, a supervillain who realizes that life is boring after he defeats all the superheroes of Metro City. The story is an obvious parody of Superman’s tale, and has a lot of funny moments and characters. Though not probably as family-friendly as Despicable Me, both films feature a supervillain who eclipses the hero and has a change of heart.

 

5. Flight 93 overshadowed by United 93 (2006)

Flight 93

Coincidental premise: The events of the ill-fated United Airlines Flight 93 during 9/11.

Both films are so similar that a lot of audiences thought them to be the same film, with different versions. United 93 was made by the shaky camera master, Paul Greengrass, and won critical acclaim. Flight 93, on the other hand, was a TV film that never got the love it deserved, as it’s quite a good watch.

While Greengrass’s film is much more polished and focuses on the logistics of the event, the latter film makes us connect deeper with the passengers, and is definitely more human when it comes to the tense situations that unfolded on that fateful day.

 

 

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  • Ian Paul

    And what make any of these movies “great”?

    • Exactly! It’s not that they’re bad movies as they’re decent but there’s a reason that they’re overshadowed by other films. It’s because those other movies were better. And this is a list made by someone from advertising. Who are these idiots and who is the moron that fucking hires them?

      • fantail31

        No need for anger. Its opened up debate and thats the best thing any film geek can ask for.

        • Well excuse me if I’m a very passionate person on film who actually gives a fuck about movies rather than try and pretend that I know something.

          • Josh Jisco Schasny

            Anyone who has written for this site knows that the titles are not always representative of their own opinions on the articles themselves. It is usually the last thing that is done before publication. Sometimes it is not even the author’s original title. All snobbishness aside, it is a matter of preference anyways. You may care about film, sure. But claiming you are less a “pretender” about film is just pure arrogance. Whether you are in advertising or not, any Bill Hicks-like opinion on someone based on a two-sentence bio. They are at least writing about something they love (maybe in a different way than you), but they are sharing their passion nonetheless.

          • Many of these writers are hacks. I could do better but I don’t have the time and plus, it takes a lot of work to really figure these out. This list is bullshit as it has nothing of substance. It claims that this film is better but how? How? I may be a fucking snob but at least I can back that shit up. If you really want to come at me. Then make your own fucking list or otherwise, shut the fuck up and let those who really give a fuck about film do the fucking job and not let some advertising hack troll us frustrated intellectuals.

          • Josh Jisco Schasny

            I have written five lists for this site. We all have something to say and far be it from me to rag on someone who has an opinion on something. I like debate, and really your retorts are just as lacking in substance as what you claim to be a bad article. At least this guy wrote something. You just throw around words like intellectual and get all in a huff when someone disagrees. Oh well. Keep it up, I guess.

          • You really think he wrote something? Then you’re a fucking moron Armond.

          • Josh Jisco Schasny
          • What? Am I supposed to be impressed Ben Lyons?

          • Josh Jisco Schasny

            Nah. Just backing my claims as I step up. Anyways, further research into who you are yielded that you’re just a troll on this site with a film blog. Therefore, I am done with you.

            Here’s lookin’ at you, kid. Bye.

          • Oh… whatever Shawn Edwards.

          • Josh Jisco Schasny
          • You ain’t my type honey but I’m sure Michael Bay is Armond.

          • Josh Jisco Schasny

            I thoroughly enjoyed our intellectual conversation. Full of middle school profanity and the inability to get my name right. You are a true spokesman (possibly woman) of your time. I’ll keep my troll food bag handy for you just in case you say any more idiotic things.

          • I’m trolling? Nigger… go fuck yourself.

          • Josh Jisco Schasny

            Well. There you go.

          • Yeah, go fuck yourself you white-trash faggot-ass, spic-chink-fucking, cock sucking Kartrashian. And take your bitch Michael Bay with you.

          • Josh Jisco Schasny

            Comments shared. Thank you for showing your true colors.

          • At least I’m not a phony like you.

          • Josh Jisco Schasny

            I find it hard to believe you are the author of the articles written on thevoid99. You have the tact and intelligence of a youtube commentor. Just the right amount of racism too. It was great chatting with you. Now kindly crawl back into your hole and do whatever you do. I am officially done.

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      • Ian Paul

        Yeah, exactly. All these are okay movies, I am just surprised he didn’t compare something like There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men. Both are modern westerns about crazy, violent, ambitious men who were nominated for Oscars. Hell, they were even filmed in the same location at the same time. And people complain that No Country for Old Men took away There Will Blood’s glory when most see it as the superior movie out of the two.

        • Johnny Al Lenn

          Despite all their similarities I don’t think those two qualify on the grounds of their very different premises and settings, something like the pairing of Deep Impact and Armageddon would probably fit it better, although it would differ from most of these in that the worse one was better remembered in that case.

  • John W. Thackery

    The one film that would actually

  • John W. Thackery

    Fail-Safe overshadowed by Dr. Strangelove? The one great film that would actually qualify for this list and you blew it?? Wow. This is an interesting premise for a TOC list but as others have stated, these movies were overshadowed for a reason. None of them are great with the exception of Antz– definitely better than ABL.

    • Johnny Al Lenn

      Didn’t Strangelove come out a few years after Fail Safe and wasn’t it pretty much a straight up parody of it, or am I thinking of another similar film?

      • John W. Thackery

        You’re probably thinking of a different film. Dr. Strangelove was based on a novel called Red Alert by Peter George, but it wasn’t satirical like the film. It was a serious take on the subject. The novel Fail-Safe was published afterwards and was virtually identical to Red Alert. So when Kubrick heard Fail-Safe was filming simultaneously, he and George filed a lawsuit against its production. The case was settled but one condition was that Fail-Safe must be released after Dr. Strangelove. They were both released in 1964, Strangelove was a hit. But Fail-Safe died at the box office since audiences couldn’t take the subject seriously following Kubrick’s biting satire. But it’s still an excellent film.

  • Unkle Dee

    interesting list. thanks, SHOMO SEN
    / p.s. stop bitching, people.

  • Hikarinokibuo

    olympus has fallen vs white house down anybody?

    • frank mango

      both shitty

    • Johnny Al Lenn

      Neither is great but if I had to choose I’d say Olympus Has Fallen, mostly on the grounds that I think it’s beyond idiotic to make action movies about people shooting each other and try to sell them to kids by not showing any blood. I’m pretty sure Furbies are far more intelligent than anyone in the MPAA.

  • Dimitri Poenaru

    The Illusionist was an absolute masterpiece. I enjoyed it more than The Prestige (although i liked that one too), and i also think it was better than Aronofsky’s The Fountain, which is also about magic and was released the same year.

  • Jacob Lyon Goddard

    I much prefer Rob Roy to Braveheart.

  • schwartzkoff

    The Thin Red Line (1998 film) overshadowed by
    Saving Private Ryan

  • Harzac

    Interesting list!
    I was surprise, I would say in Spain The Ilusionist was pretty famous and everybody watched it, but nobody knows The Prestige.

  • Bobby Calloway

    Interesting list. There’s one from way back in the 1950s. A famous women’s prison film called Caged was released on the same day as an independent film called So Young, So Bad about a girls’ correctional school. Both great dramas featuring some killer performances – but Caged is more film noir, while So Young, So Bad is straight up drama.

  • Nader Adel Ayad

    interstellar overshadowed by gravity