Sibling Rivalry: Same Idea, Different Screen
Over the years, a number of movies and tv series have been produced almost simultaneously that have a very similar premise (though the execution will naturally be distinct enough not to infringe on intellectual property).




Movies

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) vs. Fail-Safe (1964) - Oops!  We just accidently dropped a bomb on Russia!

Buck Rogers (1979) vs. Flash Gordon (1980) -
Big screen adaptation of a classic serial sci-fi hero.  World's supply of lycra is depleted by the costume department.


An American Werewolf in London (1981) vs. The Howling (1981) - Werewolves, oh my!

Caveman (1981) vs. Quest for Fire (1981) - Early humans grunt their way through a script (nearly) devoid of English dialog and discover fire along the way.

Missing in Action (1984) vs. Rambo (1985) - Back to 'Nam to kick ass and take names off the wall memorial.

My Science Project (1985) vs. Real Genius (1985) vs. Weird Science (1985) -
High school guys are unrealistically amazing in science.

Iron Eagle (1986) vs. Top Gun (1986) -
Fighter jets go vrrrooooooooommmm!  Shoot, shoot!  Plot?  Not really.

Near Dark (1987) vs. Lost Boys (1987) - A teenage boy falls in with a bad bunch of leather-clad vampires while his much younger sibling remains a human in constant peril until the older brother is restored to humanity.


Like Father, Like Son (1987) vs. Big (1988) vs. Vice Versa (1988) - Alternate takes on Freaky Friday with guys in the lead (except in Big he simply becomes an adult without swapping with anyone else).

The Abyss (1989) vs. DeepStar Six (1989) -
Forget going to space, dive to the bottom of the ocean to have alien encounters!

Turner & Hooch (1989) vs. K-9 (1989) -
Cop with a dog for a partner.  Hilarity ensues.


Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992) vs. 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992) - The story of the (re-)discovery of America exactly 500 years earlier.

Three of Hearts (1993) vs. Threesome (1994) - Love triangle co-starring a Baldwin brother and one of the girls from Twin Peaks.  See also Two Girls and a Guy (1997) (No
Baldwins in this one, but yes, Heather Graham was in Twin Peaks too: second season.)

Volcano (1997) vs. Dante's Peak (1997) - Volcano, lava, and a female lead of ambiguous/undetermined sexual orientation.

Antz (1998) vs. A Bug's Life (1998) - CGI talking insects.

Armageddon (1998) vs. Deep Impact (1998) - Meteors!  Ensemble cast!

Saving Private Ryan (1998) vs. The Thin Red Line (1998) - Moral ambiguity in WWII.  Existentialism ensues.

Dark City (1998) vs. The Matrix (1999) - An everyman finds that his reality is not what it seems.  An army of shadowy figures in dark suits are manipulating things behind the scenes toward a mysterious purpose.

The Haunting (1999) vs. The House on Haunted Hill (1999) -
Remake of a classic h
aunted house movie in which a group of strangers spend the night in some spooky real estate.  (See The Haunting (1963) and The House on Haunted Hill (1959).)

Mission to Mars (2000) vs. Red Planet (2000) - Attacking Mars.

Chasing Liberty (2004) vs. First Daughter (2004) - The President's teenager causes problems for the Secret Service by running off and falling in love.  Mediocrity ensues.

The Descent (2005) vs. The Cave (2005) - Spelunking chicks vs. monsters.

Capote (2005) vs. Infamous (2006) - Behind the scenes of the research/writing of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood.

The Prestige (2006) vs. The Illusionist (2006) - Late 19th-century magician engages in off-stage deceptions.  (Distinguishing characteristic: One of these is doesn't fool anyone.  The other stars Batman and Wolverine and fools nearly everyone.)

No Strings Attached (2011) vs. Friends with Benefits (2011) - Fuck buddies are the new "my-gay-best-friend" movie.

Lincoln (2012) vs. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012) - An account of the remarkable achievments of the 16th president of the United States.

Mirror, Mirror (2012) vs. Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) -
A gritty retelling of Snow White.  Not that this is an original idea.  (See also Snow White: A Tale of Terror (1997).
)

ParaNorman (2012) vs. Hotel Transylvania (2012) - Big-budget CGI monster movie for kids released just in time for Halloween.

End of the World (2013) vs. This Is the End  (2013) - The end of the world is hilarious if you get the top comedy actors of the day.

White House Down (2013) vs. Olympus Has Fallen (2013) - Oh, no!  Some John McClaine has to save the White House from terrorists!

Hercules: The Thracian Wars (2014) vs. Hercules: The Legend Begins (2014) - Muscles.
  Testosterone ensues.


TV

The Munsters (1964) vs. The Addams Family (1964) - That odd family in the big, scary house down the street keeps scaring the regular folk.

Bewitched (1964) vs. I Dream of Jeannie (1965) -
A sexy housewife with magical powers makes life "interesting" for her husband.

Thundarr the Barbarian (1980) and Blackstar (1981) - Barbarian hero of the future and his magical sidekicks take on evil forces in this strange new world.  (It's interesting to observe that the Conan the Barbarian film followed a year later (1982), as well as Beastmaster (1982), then He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) on tv the next year.)

The Transformers (1984) vs. Challenge of the GoBots (1984) - Vehicles change into battling armies of extra-terrestrial robots.

Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers (1986) vs.
Bravestarr (1987) - Cowboys in spaaaaaaaace!

Friday The 13th: The Series (1987) vs. Freddy's Nightmares (1988) - Successful movie series that has run out of inspiration is detoured into an anthology tv series largely unrelated to the movies from which it derives its title.

Twin Peaks (1990) vs. Northern Exposure (1990) -
Small towns are filled with weird people and weird happenings.
  (See also Picket Fences (1992).)

ER (1994) vs. Chicago Hope (1994) - Boring, overly dour hospital drama set in Chicago.

Ghost Whisperer (2005) vs. Medium (2005) - Psychic formerly-cinematic hottie takes a pay cut to do supernatural problem-solving for tv.

Surface (2005) vs. Invasion (2005) vs. Threshold (2005) -
There's some sort of alien thingie under the water.  Canceled in one season with nothing resolved.


Eureka (2006) vs. Fringe (2008) vs. Warehouse 13 (2009) - A government-directed secret organization channels supernatural or higher-science artifacts and phenomena for their benefit.

Once Upon a Time (2011) vs. Grim (2011) - Fairy tales updated for prime time.


Do you have any others in mind that I might have forgotten?  If so, email me!



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