In one of the more memorable running jokes in Judd Apatow's Knocked Up, Seth Rogen and his stoner friends have a great idea for a website: Fleshofthestars.com will let users know exactly when and in what film actresses have appeared nude. There's just one problem: Mr. Skin already existed, much to Rogen's chagrin.
Roommate Jay Baruchel tries to cheer him up, claiming that in past instances of similarly-themed restaurants, websites and even films have happily co-existed. Alas, it's all for naught, and the dream of a cash cow website was dead on arrival.
It is a fact, though, that over the years films have sparked imitators, wannabes and accidental plagiarism. Most of these can be written off as mockbusters - cynically titled OnDemand direct and Redbox releases hoping to prey on the unassuming or ill-informed shopper (Snakes on a Train, Sharknado and most late-period Roger Corman works fall into this category). On other occasions, the stakes are a little higher.
This phenomenon has been a burden for major studios during Blockbuster summer releases, each one competing to outdo the other. For every Turner and Hooch, there's a K-9. For every Die Hard, there's a Toy Soldiers. So which ones actually won their respective bouts? That can depend on numerous factors including but not limited to budget, release date, cast, script and just how many variations on the same theme audiences were willing to tolerate.
10. Olympus Has Fallen vs. White House Down
Rotten Tomatoes: 49%/50%
We're just going to come right out and say it: Any film starring Gerard Butler could easily replace him with an Artificial Intelligence just starting to learn human emotion, but just can't seem to grasp certain aspects.
But in this, the day of the Big Explosive Summer movie, Olympus Has Fallen staked a lot of its success on the bankability of its lead, Butler's Secret Service Agent with a chip on his shoulder fighting back a band of terrorists hellbent on kidnapping President Aaron Eckhart (if Morgan Freeman didn't make his paycheck appearance, Fallen was well on its way to being the whitest action film of all time). Fallen is the first in a series that has no reason to continue - exhausting its premise before the first sequel turned the series into Jingoism: The Movie.
That's why we prefer its sister film, White House Down. Gone were the insensitive racial overtones, replaced with a group of villains so generically evil one of them is James Woods. Both films drew negative comparisons to Die Hard, with its tightly enclosed setting and hostage situation.
But if Fallen was a cheap Die Hard wannabe, Roland Emmerich's White House Down opened up the landscape a bit, using even the White House lawn. Its actual cinematic spiritual twin might be more favourably viewed as a Die Hard With a Vengeance clone. Both are overblown and absurd, but Emmerich had already proved himself a capable orchestrator of disaster.