'Armageddon' / 'Deep Impact'
With buzz mounting for Netflix’s documentary “Fyre,” about the disastrous music festival of the same name, Hulu stunned everyone this week with the surprise release of its own film exploring the same event, “Fyre Fraud.” Their release just days apart may mark one of the shortest durations between different projects featuring the same subject matter, but it’s far from the first time that two (or sometimes more) Hollywood storytellers have created - much less pitted against one another - dueling films. As audiences decide which “Fyre” film they prefer, we assembled a list of some of the most notable “twin” films in cinema history, from the early 1960s to the present day.
'Dr. Strangelove' / 'Fail Safe' (both 1964)
As the Cold War continued to escalate in the early 1960s, Stanley Kubrick and Sidney Lumet took dramatically different approaches to depicting our existential fears about nuclear war. Kubrick’s darkly satirical romp quickly became a classic, but Lumet’s quietly cultivated a passionate following, earning its place in Hollywood history as a compelling, if perhaps no more credible political thriller.
‘Like Father, Like Son’ (1987) / ‘Big’ (1988) / ‘Vice Versa’ (1988) / ‘18 Again!’ (1988)
The late 1980s were a big time for wish fulfillment movies, which is probably the only real explanation for why there were not just two but four (!) body-switching comedies in a two-year span. Penny Marshall’s “Big” was by far the most successful, but with the likes of George Burns, Judge Reinhold, Dudley Moore and a red-hot “Wonder Years”-era Fred Savage in the others, there were plenty of wishes fulfilled no matter where your appetites laid.
‘Dangerous Liaisons’ (1988)/ ‘Valmont’ (1989)
It’s hard to imagine the great Milos Forman making a lesser of any two films about the same material, but Stephen Frears’ “Dangerous Liaisons” adapted Christopher Hampton’s novel first, and to so much tremendous commercial and critical success - including seven Oscar nominations - that Forman’s version, even starring Colin Firth, Annette Bening and Meg Tilly, could unfortunately not find a similar audience.
‘The Forbidden Dance’ / ‘Lambada’ (both 1990)
“Fyre” and “Fyre Fraud” are being released three days apart. These two films attempting to capitalize on the lambada dance craze came out on the same day, thanks to Menahem Golan and his cousin Yoram Globus, who split acrimoniously after forming Cannon Films and decided that this of all trends would be the hill to live or die on.
‘Dante’s Peak’ / ‘Volcano’ (1997)
Pierce Brosnan took time off from playing James Bond to star in “Dante’s Peak,” about a volcanic eruption in a fictional Washington city, while Tommy Lee Jones continued to enjoy his post-“The Fugitive” stardom as a first responder dealing with lava unexpectedly exploding out of the La Brea Tar Pits. Brosnan’s film beat “Volcano” to screen by two months, but interest continued to flow, and both ended up being commercial successes.
‘Deep Impact’ / ‘Armageddon’ (1998)
The end of the world couldn’t come soon enough in 1998, thanks to these two films where an asteroid threatened to reduce Earth’s populations to ash. Michael Bay tackled the material with a predictable abundance of spectacle (and absence of substance), while Mimi Leder’s film delivered a slightly more thoughtful, resigned take on what some might do if faced with the prospect of their inevitable, inescapable demise.
‘Capote’ (2005) / ‘Infamous’ (2006)
These two films probably face the most contentiousness among audiences and critics over which is better - Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s Oscar-winning turn as the iconic novelist, or Toby Jones’ performance as Capote writes his famous true-crime book “In Cold Blood.” Either way, their casts are both top-notch - Catherine Keener, Amy Ryan and Chris Cooper appearing in the former, and Sandra Bullock, Daniel Craig and Jeff Daniels in the latter - and both offer unique windows into his life and work.
‘Mirror Mirror’ / ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ (2012)
Another instance where it’s not altogether clear why a particular story became such a hot property, but the Grimm fairy tale “Snow White” gets two wildly different treatments from directors Tarsem Singh and Rupert Sanders. Also another instance where both projects attracted major talent - “Mirror” starred Lily Collins, Julia Roberts and Armie Hammer, and “Snow White” featured Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth - but only one, the latter, received a sequel, though it dispensed with its would-be damsel for a decidedly more action-packed adventure.
‘Jobs’ (2013)/ ‘Steve Jobs’ (2015)
When it comes to dueling biographies of Steve Jobs, Joshua Michael Stern’s film had the advantage of starring Ashton Kutcher, who looked almost shockingly like the tech pioneer. But the other, written by no less than Aaron Sorkin and directed by Danny Boyle, had pretty much every other advantage, including a cast led by Michael Fassbender and which included Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels. And yet, even though Sorkin’s version netted him a Golden Globe and Oscar noms for Fassbender and Winslet, as far as audiences were concerned, both kind of came and went like a generation of iPhone without enough upgrades.
‘The Jungle Book’ (2016) / ‘Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle’ (2018)
Jon Favreau’s 2016 front-runner is technically a remake of the 1967 Disney animated film and not a direct adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s book of the same name, but both went into production at the same time, and Warner Brothers was evidently so shaken by the success of its predecessor that Andy Serkis’ film was shelved and eventually sold off to Netflix, despite a cast that very much rivals Favreau’s - Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, and Benedict Cumberbatch squaring off against Bill Murray, Christopher Walken and Scarlett Johansson.