7 Classic Movies That Are Shameless Ripoffs

We realize that nothing is truly original -- in some way, every blockbuster you watch this summer will have elements that were "ripped off" from some older movie, or novel, or comic book. But damn it, there are times when a big-budget movie has incredibly specific similarities to some more obscure work, to the point that it's really hard to swallow that it could be coincidence. For example ...

#7. Up Closely Resembles a French Short

The film Up is about a lonely old man whose house faces demolition, as it now sits squarely in the middle of a construction zone. Served with an eviction notice, the old man ties hundreds of balloons to his house and floats away.

"Wait! I forgot my insulin!"

But It's Suspiciously Similar To ...

Above Then Beyond is an animated French short about a lonely widow whose home faces demolition by evil businessmen because it's the only house left in the middle of an urban development.

The sharply dressed bastards then show up to bully her out of her house. And after being served with an eviction notice, she turns her house into a gigantic hot air balloon and floats off into the clouds. You have to admit, that's a pretty bizarrely specific plot to have occurred to two different filmmakers. SlashFilm did this side-by-side comparison:


Aside from the fact that the protagonist of Up is an old man and not a woman, the only real difference between the films is that in Up, the old man goes on a bunch of zany jungle adventures with a fat kid and a talking dog, whereas in Above Then Beyond, the old lady dies and it's revealed to be a dream she had.

Before being murdered by skinheads.

One of the creators of the animated short was a film student who basically said that he's pretty sure somebody at Pixar got their idea from his film, but he's powerless to accuse them of anything, as the film was part of his studies and no longer technically belongs to him. So once again the minefield of copyright law miraculously comes out in favor of the giant megacorporation.

#6. The Hunger Games Is Identical to a Japanese Movie

The Hunger Games, adapted from the Suzanne Collins novel, is set in a dystopian future where children are forced to take part in a televised death match where only one can survive. The reason? To punish citizens for a past rebellion and to prevent them from rising up again.

But It's Suspiciously Similar To ...

Battle Royale is Japanese movie adapted from a Japanese novel. It's set in a dystopian future where teenagers are forced to fight each other to the death in a televised death match by a sick government to stop them from rising up in revolution. Of course, there are differences between the films, too. In Battle Royale, the kids are Japanese. And, well, no, that's it.

They go tie shopping at the same store as the guys in Reservoir Dogs.

Remember this scene in The Hunger Games, where they're introduced to the battlefield and forced to fight over backpacks and weapons?

Really, it's not all that different from graduate school.

Battle Royale had almost that exact same scene. When the combatants are thrown into the combat area, they are allotted backpacks, provisions, and random weapons, and they start fighting almost immediately. Both films contain a command center that keeps track of the combatants and reads out lists of the dead over loudspeakers.

But one of the command centers didn't secure their Wi-Fi.

And both films contain emotionally damaged previous winners acting as mentors.

Wait, they aren't both Woody Harrelson?

The author of The Hunger Games said she never heard of Battle Royale, but that when she turned in the first draft of her novel, it was mentioned to her that there were huge similarities between the two. But that was the end of it. The makers of Battle Royale have not made any claim of plagiarism against the better known American film. In fact, Battle Royale has been enjoying a resurgence of popularity ever since a bunch of Japanophiles pointed out the similarities after seeing The Hunger Games. When the Japanese movie was re-released for American audiences, they included a cheeky reference in the trailer, which almost makes it sound like The Hunger Games was a remake:

"Not to imply anything ..."

#5. RoboCop May Be a Rewritten Judge Dredd Movie

RoboCop is an incredibly '80s movie about guns, cocaine, and stop-motion robots in dystopian, crime-ridden Detroit. Its protagonist is an unstoppable, no-nonsense supercop concealed under a suit of armor and a helmet that obscures his eyes and who lives in a world where you shoot first and read Miranda rights later.

But It's Suspiciously Similar To ...

The recent surge in popularity of Judge Dredd thanks to his 2012 feature film should dredge up a few memories for the discerning '80s movie fan. Dredd is a strong, no-nonsense, no-pity cop who cleans up the street, one dirtbag at a time. He keeps his eyes hidden behind a visor and his favorite gun at his hip. His city is a sprawling ghetto, full of the worst kind of lowlifes, corruption, and sickening ultra violence.

We've always assumed Mega-City One was built over old Detroit.

The similarities between the two characters are so striking that, when the new film came out, lots of reviewers praised it or damned it for its similarity to RoboCop. Of course, no such comparisons were drawn from the 1995 Stallone attempt, but then the new version is a much more faithful adaption of the comic book that RoboCop is suggested to have ripped off. Even Karl Urban, who plays Judge Dredd, admits that the film has a lot of RoboCop references, because "RoboCop was obviously inspired by Dredd."

You can even see some direct elements from the comic that have ended up in the movie. Like RoboCop's quote "Come quietly -- or there will be trouble!" which just happened to be the quote on the cover of this copy of the Dredd comic 2000 A.D.

Ah yes, we all remember the year 2000.

It's been rumored for years that the original Judge Dredd script was passed around Hollywood from studio to studio and writer to writer, going through numerous reboots until it became RoboCop. Hell, even Paul Verhoeven said Judge Dredd was an influence on RoboCop (although you'll need to know Dutch to read that). And RoboCop's screenwriter, Ed Neumeier, has admitted that Dredd was at least a partial influence on the character.

In fact, the initial design concept for RoboCop, shown on the DVD extras, has him wearing a Dredd-style helmet at one point until someone opened a dictionary and saw the definition of the word "plagiarism" and decided they should change at least one thing.

#4. Avatar Bears a Striking Resemblance to a 1980s Comic

For all of its visual achievements, the actual plot of Avatar is fairly standard -- a group of blue-skinned natives on a distant planet are forced to fight back when interstellar humans attempt to knock over their magic tree. The main character is a human male who falls in love with one of the female blue aliens and winds up having to fight off his own people to protect her and her tribe.

But It's Suspiciously Similar To ...

Timespirits was a short-lived Marvel comic series from the '80s created by Stephen Perry, who also created ThunderCats. Timespirits is so obscure that there's not much information available on the actual plot. However, looking at the following panels, it's easy to see that Avatar doesn't just bear a passing resemblance:

The comic book characters have way better pants.

Still not convinced? Here's another comparison:

To fully enjoy, put on a pair of 3D glasses and proceed to bitch about it.

For what little can be recalled about the obscure comic, it seems that a sexy blue cat lady falls in love with a human man while being hunted by soldier types who seem to embody white guilt.

And the very best in earthling hat styles.

Although Timespirits didn't sell very well, enough people have accused Cameron of ripping it off that it should at least raise a few eyebrows. Then again, Avatar has already been accused of ripping off everything from FernGully to Dances With Wolves to other obscure science fiction novels about paraplegics who have their consciousness inserted into alien avatars. But maybe that says a lot more about Cameron's originality than it does about his deviousness.

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