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 ...
7Up 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.
6The 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 ..."