The concept of ‘twin films’ lands somewhere between coincidence and creative bankruptcy, because there’s always an air of suspicion when two virtually identical projects head into development and then production at almost exactly the same time, and it’s not as if there’s only been one or two isolated incidents, with the phenomenon dating back decades.
1985 saw cinema’s two biggest action stars head down the one-man army route and mow down countless henchmen in Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo: First Blood Part II and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Commando, oddly specific buddy cop dog comedies K-9 and Turner & Hooch both landed in 1989, a pair of Christopher Columbus epics arrived in 1992, Scottish historical adventures Braveheart and Rob Roy faced off in 1995, Dante’s Peak and Volcano dealt with disaster, Armageddon and Deep Impact tackled the end of the world, White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen put the president in peril, and the list goes on and on.
One of the more unique showdowns came in 2006, when Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige and Neil Burger’s The Illusionist released within two months of each other, telling mysterious stories with thriller elements and love triangles revolving around 19th Century magicians. The latter fared worse from a critical and commercial perspective, but only just, with 2% on Rotten Tomatoes and less than $22 million at the box office separating them.
The plot follows Edward Norton‘s Eisenheim, who gains fame with a series of impressive tricks, only to find himself at odds with a violent royal rival, both of whom are in love with the same woman. It’s a completely different film compared to The Prestige despite the superficial similarities, and if you want to find out for yourself how it turned out, The Illusionist is now streaming for free on YouTube Movies.
Source: Giant Freakin Robot