Sometimes when a major blockbuster movie is released it is accompanied by a hastily produced budget knock-off - a mockbuster! So at the time a new 'Transformers' movie arrives at the multiplex you might also see a direct-to-DVD 'Transmorphers' film popping up for sale! Not only is the title similar but the cover is often created in a way which may lead some people to think they are buying the $200million real deal and not the $200 bargain bin version.
It's a practice that has become more and more common over the last decade, with certain studios (*cough* The Asylum *cough*) seemingly producing nothing but these films in an attempt to piggy back on the success (and marketing power) of the real thing. So we've gathered up 25 prime examples of these mockbuster movies, all of which should probably come with a buyer beware warning...
Scoring 1.7 on IMDB, Transmorphers was universally criticised when released in 2007 to tie-in with the Michael Bay movie. However...
The 2009 sequel (which is actually a prequel) got itself a few favourable reviews upon release.
Enough to propel it to a rating of 2.2!
First Pacific Rim, then Atlantic Rim, I'm holding out for English Channel Rim.
Snakes on a Train
I'm not going to lie, some years ago this one had me fooled. I honestly thought it was a sequel to Snakes on a Plane.
And then I started watching it!
Pirates of Treasure Island
Oh Lance Henriksen, why?
Released just one week before Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, and sinking to Davy Jones Locker levels within the first few minutes.
Alien vs Hunter
The first of three 'Alien' movies in our list, and one of the closest knock-offs I think you'll find. In cover design only that is. I mean, it's not like the Alien vs Predator movies were high class entertainment or anything, but when compared to Alien vs Hunter (which scores a massive 1.5 on IMDB) they are almost masterpieces of cinema.
Having sat through this and the previous mockbuster I can tell you that there is no way Alien Origin deserves to rank higher on IMDB than Alien vs Hunter (1.9 compared to 1.5). Truly one of the worst films I have ever seen.
Aliens vs Avatar
Our third and final 'Aliens' mockbuster cleverly takes the titles from two of James Cameron's best movies, and then delivers something that has absolutely no resemblance to either of them at all.
In Aliens vs Avatar "six college friends find themselves caught up in a cat and mouse hunt with a race of creatures who possess the ability to transform into anything from which it has consumed DNA."
As the cover clearly allows you to infer!
Because Salvation wasn't bad enough.
The Day The Earth Stopped
Let's be honest, the remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still was pretty crap, so you'd have to go to some length to make a worse movie.
Well hello The Asylum!
20th Century Fox threatened legal action over this one, but never followed through with it. Possibly because watching the two back to back makes the Fox version appear to be apotheosis of movie making.
After The Amazing Bulk reached the dizzy heights of 2.3 on IMDB, the other Avengers were fair game for the mockbuster genre.
2011's Almighty Thor is so bad I found myself actually rooting for Loki, hoping he would kill Thor as soon as possible so that the movie would finally end. It never did.
Although none of the Avengers rip-offs come anywhere near to the rip-off-ness of this one...
Yeah, there's some iron in there, some cadmium, maybe a bit of tin and a smidgin of zirconian.
I Am Omega
Thanks to NoLongerARegisteredUser for this one. In 2007 I Am Legend became the third feature-film adaptation of Richard Matheson's 1954 novel of the same name (following 1964's The Last Man on Earth and 1971's The Omega Man), so naturally it needed its own mockbuster.
That came in the form of I Am Omega (starring Mark Dacascos), which was rushed into production and released direct-to-DVD a month prior to I Am Legend (starring Will Smith) arrived in theaters, and partially used the earlier The Omega Man (starring Charlton Heston) title.
Sometimes mockbuster title logic makes your head hurt.
Kiara the Brave
Even Disney isn't safe from the mockbuster. In fact, they are one of the most 'mocked'...
These two movies are not at all similar.
In the 2008 Disney Pixar film an old man uses thousands of small balloons to lift up his house.
In the 2008 Toyland Video production an old man uses one large balloon to lift up his house.
The Frog Prince
It's a tricky one this, as Disney often adapt classic fairy tales and children's stories which are in the public domain, but there is clearly a fine line when a low budget version is released around the same time as the Disney version, and the cover artwork is remarkably similar.
In fact, back in 1993 Disney felt that line had been crossed, and filed a lawsuit against Good Times Entertainment claiming that the packaging of their animated movies were created to fool consumers into thinking they were the Disney releases. The case in point then was for Aladdin, and surprisingly Disney lost!
Ever since a multitude of mockbusters have been released direct to DVD at about the same time the Disney film hits cinemas. Like this...
Originally titled The Legend of Sarilla, and released theatrically three weeks prior to Disney's Frozen. The French-Canadian movie sunk without trace, but was rebranded for its DVD release to capitalise on the massive Frozen phenomenon...
This really was one step too far for Disney, who lodged a lawsuit once again regarding the artwork, although this time it's pretty clear that the title logo is an almost identical copy.
Can you imagine any poor child getting this as a present, waiting to sing along with Elsa, Anna and Olaf, only to discover a story about three young Inuits setting off in search of a promised land to save their clan from starvation.
Let it go!
Chop Kick Panda
Disney aren't the only one with animated mockbuster issues.
With a running time of just 41 minutes you'd be upset if you mistook this one for Dreamworks hit movie.
The Amityville Haunting
First Asylum Executive: "Hey, I know. Let's just change the word 'horror' to 'haunting'."
Second Asylum Executive: "Genius idea!"
First Asylum Executive: "Hey, I know........."
Originally called Zombie Massacre, this low budget Italian movie was rebranded to capitalise on the promotional power of World War Z. As the back cover will tell you, the action takes place in a "quiet little town in the middle of Eastern Europe", Romania to be exact.
Not exactly a global apocalyptic threat.
Battle of Los Angeles
Potential tag line: Because mockbusters don't use abbreviations!
Hansel & Gretal
Arriving on DVD at the same time Hansel & Gretal: Witch Hunters was released theatrically, this cover would lead you to believe that you are at least getting some kind of horror movie. The synopsis says:
"In this modern retelling of the classic horror tale, teen siblings are enslaved by a psychotic recluse within her gruesome house of horrors in the woods."Don't expect too much "gruesome" - it's a PG!
Sunday School Musical
Obviously neither movie was made for my demographic, but I kinda love the idea of "Mockbusters for God".
How about Pope Fiction, Godfellows or Deity Hard!
Age of the Hobbits
Not all mockbusters get away with mockbustering! As Age of the Hobbits proves.
The original working title for this movie was Lord of the Elves, but The Asylum changed it to Age of the Hobbits. Clearly a much better mockbuster title, although Warner Bros were not impressed, sending a cease-and-desist order. The Asylum responded by changing their promotional material for the US release...
...but refusing to take the word Hobbit out of the title.
Not content with that Warner Bros took The Asylum to court claiming that they were "free-riding" on the worldwide promotional campaign for Peter Jackson's films.
Can you guess who won? Clue: Age of the Hobbits ended up being rebranded and released as...
Temporarily blocked from release, The Asylum decided there was no way they could afford to throw away the $375 they had spent on making the movie (!) so just put it out under a different name, and also ended up going back to that working title of Lord of the Elves for its UK release.
And finally, there are times when a mockbuster might be a good thing...
AE (Apocalypse Earth)
No Jaden Smith you say? I know which one I'm watching!
Have you got a favourite mockbuster?