Smack Classix: Rise of the Doppelgangers

Smack Classix Week: Rise of the Doppelgangers

Smack Classix Week: Rise of the Doppelgangers

Doppel-what? Doppelganger, as in, a tangible double or look-alike of a living person. Last year millions of people used their celebrity Doppelgangers as their Facebook photos, remember?

Here at the Smack, we use Doppelganger to refer to a specific style of content collision in the film industry.

Dop*pel*gang*er [dop-ul-gang-er] n. 1) an event that happens when two different studios both release nearly identical films within the period of a single year 2) a Hollywood box office game of chicken

We’re about to see it happen with competing Sleeping Beauty projects, but it’s happened many times before.

Two of our most popular posts are Doppelgangers — Without Limits -vs- Prefontaine; and Armageddon -vs- Deep Impact.

We’re going to look at seven Doppelgangers this week to see if, like the Doublemint twins of yesterday, we can double our pleasure and double our fun.

Deep Impact -vs- ArmageddonSUNDAY:

Deep Impact (1998) -vs- Armageddon (1998)

It’s the End of the World as We Know It. Back in 1998, during the Year of Lewinsky, Paramount/DreamWorks got into a game of chicken with Touchstone. The result was two disaster films about comets that were about to crash into the Earth and destroy all life. Our poll between these two films has been virtually tied for years and now has over 1200 votes. Get the full Smackdown! →

The Prestige -vs- The IllusionistMONDAY:

The Prestige (2006) -vs- The Illusionist (2006)

Do you believe in that old-time film magic? Over the hundred-plus years since the laterna magica began projecting images, we’ve gone from films being seen as magic by themselves to films about magic. Then, in 2006, we got two doppelgangers, both excellent, about 19th century professional prestidigitators. You don’t need to be Harry Potter to know what to do with a wand. Get the full Smackdown! →

United 93 -vs- World Trade CenterTUESDAY:

United 93 (2006) -vs- World Trade Center (2006)

It’s been years, but if you close your eyes, all those horrific images are still with you. Both of these 9/11 films were released in 2006 during the run-up to the five-year anniversary of the events of that terrible day. At the time critics kept wringing their hands about whether or not it was too early to tell these stories. Looking back, the better question could easily have been what took so long? Get the full Smackdown! →

Wyatt Earp -vs- TombstoneWEDNESDAY:

Wyatt Earp (1994) -vs- Tombstone (1993)

A 30-second gunfight at the OK Corral in 1881 propelled sometime-lawman Wyatt Earp to legendary status as one of the West’s toughest badges, but it wasn’t until the early days of the Clinton Administration that two films both took aim at each other at high noon to tell the modern version of his story. Firing the first shot was Tombstone.  Then, mere months later, Wyatt Earp rode into movie theaters throughout North America.  Get the full Smackdown! →

THURSDAY:

Brokedown Palace (1999) -vs- Return to Paradise (1998)

Oh, to be young, independent, sexy… and rotting in some hellhole of a foreign prison. Around the time Bill Clinton was getting impeached for breaking the rules himself, Hollywood got in a game of chicken on two films about young American travelers who make some mistakes in judgment, run afoul of very strict drug laws and end up in nightmares they can’t wake up from. Get the full Smackdown! →

In Bruges -vs- The MatadorFRIDAY:

In Bruges (2008) -vs- The Matador (2006)

Two writer/directors have given us their film takes on hit men with existential doubts about their chosen profession who work out these issues sitting in touristy hotel rooms. Both films give us a veteran killer looking for friendship and morality in the twilight of his “career,” weave the loss of a child into the storyline, and deal with the assassin as the target of an assassin. Get the full Smackdown! →

Without Limits -vs- PrefontaineSATURDAY:

Without Limits (1998) -vs- Prefontaine (1997)

To this day when the major track running events are held, it’s a safe bet that plenty of people remember the gutsy runner who pretty much owned distance running back in the day, Steve Prefontaine. In the late 90s, Hollywood bizarrely made two films back-to-back about the legendary distance runner, and you may be tempted to go rent one of them to see for yourself what the fuss was all about. Get the full Smackdown! →

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1 Comment on Smack Classix: Rise of the Doppelgangers


  1. Long live the Doppelgangers! It’s about time somebody pointed out how studios keep making the same film time after time.

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