The concept of ‘twin films’ is regularly rooted in coincidence, but sometimes there’s a more cynical reason for two almost identical projects to enter development and subsequently hit theaters round about the same time. Hollywood is all about jumping on bandwagons after all, but more often than not there’s only one winner.
Think Antz and A Bug’s Life, Deep Impact and Armageddon, Volcano and Dante’s Peak, and The Prestige and The Illusionist as just a few notable examples. The summer of 2013 repeated the phenomenon once again, as a pair of blockbusters that could broadly be described as ‘Die Hard in the White House’ hit theaters within three months of each other.
On paper, most folks expected White House Down to comfortably defeat Olympus Has Fallen, given that the latter came from cinema’s master of disaster Roland Emmerich at a cost of $150 million and packed serious star power in the form of Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx. Meanwhile, journeyman Antoine Fuqua helmed Olympus, which featured Gerard Butler, a reliable action hero in his own right but not quite an A-lister.
To the surprise of many, not only was Olympus arguably the better film, but it went on to turn a bigger profit and launch a franchise that’s still going strong today. Meanwhile, White House Down flopped after managing to earn just $205 million at the box office, proving there was only one winner when it came to defending the President against a terrorist attack at all costs.
White House Down has largely been lost to the sands of time, but it’s experiencing something of a resurgence on Hulu, where it’s managed to ascend as high as third place on the streamer’s most-watched chart.