12 'Twin' Films From The 80s & 90s - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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12 'Twin' Films From The 80s & 90s

It's deja vu...

Twin films are movies with either the same or a very similar plot, both produced and/or released at around the same time by two different film studios. It's a phenomenon that, surprisingly, happens quite often, and there are variety of reasons as to why.

Sometimes twin movies deal with topical issues or significant anniversaries, resulting in multiple productions occurring concurrently. Other times they are just put down to two or more production companies investing in similar scripts around the same time, resulting in a race to distribute the films to audiences. Occasionally twin movies are said to be the cause of industrial espionage, sometimes in the case of executives moving from one studio to another and knowing what their previous employer was working on.Whatever the reason we've rounded up 6 pairs of twin films from the 1980s & 90s that you no doubt remember, but did you watch them both?

1. K-9 & Turner & Hooch
Both films feature a non-traditional police dog teamed up with an unsuspecting partner. Both films were released in 1989. Turner & Hooch, starring Tom Hanks, is likely remembered the best, thanks in no small part to its star, but the winner of the two, financially wise, was K-9.

Arriving in cinemas three months prior to Turner & Hooch, with both on a similar mid-teen million dollar budget, K-9 made $7 million more with a final worldwide gross of $78.2 million. But, if like me, you're one of those people who struggle to make it through anything featuring Jim Belushi, then it'll be Turner & Hooch you'll opt for on movie night.

2. Antz & A Bugs Life
Just how similar are these two computer animated feature films? Well, both are computer-animated films about insects, starring a non-conformist ant who falls in love with an ant princess, leaves the mound, and eventually returns and is hailed as a hero.

The story behind the two competing 1998 twin movies is an alleged case of industrial espionage, as we explored in detail here. Suffice to say, Pixar and Dreamworks probably weren't exchanging Christmas cards with one another that year.

Financially, Antz is said to have come in at an estimated $105 million budget, but it's rumoured that a lot of the final figure was actually paid in bonuses for completing the movie quickly and beating Pixar to release, retroactively added for accounting purposes, and it could've been produced for somewhere in the mid $40 million range without the incentives paid. With its final box office gross sitting at $178 million, that's about a four times return on investment if the alleged financial incentives are taken off.

A Bugs Life, on the other hand, cost a flat $120 million to produce and took $363 million. Three times it's production costs. But, really, it's legacy is so much more than that. The Pixar feel is more timeless, the character's are more connectable. A Bugs Life is the clear winner in this battle.

3. Iron Eagle & Top Gun
Two films from 1985, both about fighter pilots. Time, of course, would prove no contest between the battle for the skies, with Top Gun sending Tom Cruise's Hollywood star into the stratosphere, but alongside the similarities on film the reception to both productions among the critics was quite equal - both receiving initial mixed to negative reviews!

Iron Eagle took off first, arriving in the January of the year, four months before Top Gun. It flopped, unable to make back its $18 million production budget, stumbling $5 million short. Cruise's picture actually cost less to produce, $15 million, and scored more favourably in reviews thanks to its aerial sequences with audiences flocking in droves to see it. Top Gun went on to be the highest-grossing film of 1986, and currently has a worldwide gross of over $356 million!

Arriving on V/H/S whilst Top Gun was still in cinemas, Iron Eagle found a new audience and a hefty $11 million in home video sales, enough to justify a sequel (which was followed by two more films in the series). Top Gun would have to wait 35 years for its follow-up, the soon to be released Top Gun: Maverick.

Clearly you don't need telling who the winner is or which is the better rewatch, but Iron Eagle is not a bad film either. Neither picture has the best dialogue and although Top Gun has the edge in aerial cinematography, Iron Eagle still delivers some skillful combat sequences.

4. Robin Hood & Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves 
From Disney's animated version, Mel Brooks comical take, to the recent Taron Egerton starring release, there have been countless cinematic takes on the mythical legend of Robin Hood over the years, two of which arrived in 1991. One of which you might not have seen. And I think you probably know which one I'm talking about!

Robin Hood was released first into UK cinemas during May 1991. The British production directed by John Irvin starred Patrick Bergin as the titular character, Uma Thurman as Maid Marion, Edward Fox as Prince John, and a young David Morrisey as Little John. Although originally intended for worldwide theatrical release, Fox, who distributed the film, decided to preempt and capitalise on the marketing around the release of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves by airing it on their various televsion networks around the world just prior to the Kevin Costner feature debuting in cinemas.

Maybe they hoped to spoil the latter's box office, or maybe they just hoped to recoup their investment with the extra publicity. If it was the former strategy it certainly didn't work as Prince Of Thieves banked close to $400 million and remained in theatres for six months - thanks in no small part to that bloody awful Bryan Adams song (admittedly, the phrase "bloody awful" could be applied to just about any Bryan Adams song but, again, you know the one I'm talking about) and a brilliant turn from Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham.

The winner of the two and the best on rewatch is clearly Prince Of Thieves. It's cheesy as hell but great fun at the same time. A thoroughly enjoyable family movie that has stood the test of time and, I'd argue, is probably the best cinematic take on Robin Hood.

5. 1492: Conquest of Paradise vs Christopher Columbus: The Discovery
Both released in 1992, to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Columbus' voyage, with neither making the journey to box office paradise.

1492: Conquest of Paradise was directed and produced by Ridley Scott and starred Gérard Depardieu as Christopher Columbus, with Sigourney Weaver as Queen Isabella I. The film opened in US theaters on 9th October 1992, just prior to Columbus Day, where it failed to find an audience. Debuting at No. 7, it ultimately grossed far below its $47 million budget. However, the subsequent home video release saw it reach a worldwide gross of $52 million.

Christopher Columbus: The Discovery was directed by John Glen, and proved to be the last project developed by the father and son production team of Alexander and Ilya Salkind (best known for the Superman films that star Christopher Reeve in the title role). Again, the film was not a commercial success, debuting at #4 in the August of that year but only grossing $8 million against its $45 million budget.

The Discovery starred Marlon Brando as Tomás de Torquemada, Tom Selleck as King Ferdinand V and Georges Corraface as Christopher Columbus (a role that was originally intended for Timothy Dalton). But talent does not necessarily equate success, and Tom Selleck was awarded the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor (beeting Marlon Brando to the prize, who was also nominated in the same category), with the film receiving another four Golden Raspberry Award nominations including; Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst New Star (Georges Corraface) and Worst Screenplay (Mario Puzo).

Although neither Columbus film is great at all, and I couldn't recommend watching either of them today, the behind-the-scenes production troubles on Christopher Columbus: The Discovery, the series of elaborate financial mishaps and its subsequent failure at the box-office brought about an emotional falling-out between Alexander and Ilya Salkind and the dissolving of their film-making partnership. For that reason it makes The Discovery a sad footnote for the once great production team.

6. Armageddon vs Deep Impact
Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 impacted Jupiter in July 1994, providing the first direct observation of an extraterrestrial collision of Solar System objects, and generating a large amount of coverage in the popular media of the day.

The nest day, aspiring screenwriters across the world, all thinking they had a unique idea, sat at their respective typewriters with glee.

The result of the comet's collision saw a barrage of similar apocalyptic themed movies go in to production, all arriving together a few years later.

Doomsday Rock (1997), Asteroid (1997), Judgment Day (1999), and Tycus (1998), all featured a global catastrophic risk centering around an impending impact event that threatens to end most or all life on Earth. Joining those four features were two similar 1998 movies that received the most attention at the time; Armageddon and Deep Impact.

The two films vary in tone a lot, with Deep Impact being a serious affair with melodramatic brooding, and a cast displaying a palpable sense of impending doom through the majority of the film, on both a global and a more intimate family scale.

Armageddon, meanwhile, goes straight for the Summer blockbuster popcorn flick and does not try to be anything more than that. I'll go in to bat for Armageddon any day of the week. It's utter nonsense but any film with an on-form Bruce Willis drilling an asteroid in space has to be worth watching, right?

At the box office, both films did solid business. Deep Impact arriving first in May 1998 to mixed reviews grossed $349 million, against a budget of $80 million. Armageddon was released for the July 4th weekend among a barrage of entirely negative reviews. The Michael Bay directed film had the last laugh though, finishing with a worldwide total of $553.7 million, and becoming the highest grossing film of 1998 worldwide on its $140 million budget.

Dollar for dollar, Deep Impact gave the better return rate. It may be the critics choice of the two but its sombre tone and difference in ending doesn't make it exactly the best choice of rewatch material midway through a year like 2020! Armageddon, regardless of its similar catastrophic risk, is the one that I'll plump for any day of the week. Pure nonsense, but it doesn't try to be any more than entertainment. And we all need that in our lives.

Can you name any other twin films? Let us know in the comments below.

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