Two similar movies that have the misfortune to be coming out within several months of one another are nothing new in Hollywood.
One of the most famous instances occurred in the summer of 1996 when two dueling disaster movies, “Armageddon” and “Deep Impact,” arrived on the movie scene within two months of one another. “Impact,” which was released on May 8, saw Earth under attack from a giant comet, while “Armageddon,” coming out on July 1, found the planet threatened by an asteroid. “Armageddon” grossed $201 million domestically, coming in ahead of “Impact”'s $140 million, and “Armageddon” was better received by critics, scoring 42 to “Impact"'s score of 40 on the website Metacritic.
Last year saw another instance of dueling ideas when two movies based on the Brothers Grimm princess tale "Snow White" were released, though the takes on the legend were markedly different from one another. “Mirror Mirror,” a comedic take on the heroine and her rivalry with her stepmother, came out March 30, while “Snow White and the Huntsman,” a fantasy battle epic that saw Snow don armor and lead an army against the wicked queen, hit theaters June 1. “Huntsman” won the box office battle with a domestic total of $155 million to “Mirror Mirror's" $64 million, and the critics liked it better, too – “Huntsman” garnered a score of 57 on Metacritic, while “Mirror Mirror” averaged a 46.
So what similar concepts are facing off this year? Seventeen years after the alien invasion movie “Independence Day” famously destroyed the White House, the home of the Commander-in-Chief is under threat again. The movies “Olympus Has Fallen” and “White House Down” will find a group of enemies taking over the venerable residence, putting the president in peril. “Olympus” is coming to theaters March 30 and stars Gerard Butler as a former Secret Service Agent who is inside the building and helps outside forces with the crisis, while “Down” will star Channing Tatum as – wait for it – a Secret Service Agent.
Actor Rick Yune of “The Man with the Iron Fists” will play a North Korean terrorist in “Olympus,” while “Zero Dark Thirty” actor Jason Clarke will play the head of the invading group in “Down.” President duties are taken on by Aaron Eckhart in “Olympus” (he plays President Benjamin Asher), while Jamie Foxx of “Django Unchained” is our leader in “Down” as President James Sawyer.
Which will triumph? First doesn’t always mean better in terms of release dates (both the disaster movies and Snow White films battles above prove that), but there’s always the danger that audiences will view a second similar movie as a copycat. (Both movies moved up their release date – “Olympus” was originally scheduled to come out in April, while “Down” was slated first for November.)
And maybe after this, Emmerich will leave the White House alone for a little while.