The Matrix wasn't just thematically similar; it even used some of Dark City 's sets:
Unless you're the Sharktopus guy, making movies is really expensive. You have to pay your actors and crew, fund the special effects, set aside bail money for Nicolas Cage -- it adds up fast. And then there are the big setpieces. Do you even know much a perfect scale replica of Toronto costs? What's a poor Hollywood millionaire gotta do to make the big-budget reboot of Mac And Me the world so desperately needs right now? Well, they could always recycle ...
Steven Spielberg was all set to shoot the submarine scene in Raiders Of The Lost Ark when he noticed something missing: the submarine. Turns out he didn't actually have a prop for the exterior shots of the sub, which seems like the kind of thing you'd double-check before filming starts. Luckily, it so happened that there was another movie with a Nazi submarine being shot a few beaches down: Das Boot.
Spielberg simply waltzed up to the crew of Das Boot and politely asked if he could borrow a cup of submarine, and they said sure.
Unfortunately for Das Boot, the damn thing broke in half and sank right after Spielberg returned it. We're picturing a slightly more heartbreaking, far more epic version of this scene from Tommy Boy. Luckily, the crew managed to salvage enough leftover parts to repair the sub and finish the movie, though somebody will think twice before filming next to Spielberg again.
When The Matrix came out in 1999, some people dismissed it as a ripoff of the 1998 film Dark City. That's not true, though. Sure, they're both neo-noir films about a man who wakes up one day and gradually discovers that his whole world is an illusion created and controlled by a sinister conspiracy, and that he's the chosen one, gifted with mysterious powers to free the world while being pursued by agents of the conspiracy. But what movie isn't?
Plus, they have vastly different visual styles. Just look at these two random shots from each mo-
But it's like they say: Good artists copy, great artists wait for you to toss it and leave it, then pull up quick to retrieve it.
The original Star Trek's greatest enemy wasn't the Klingons or the Romulans, but budgets. That's why most exotic alien planets tended to look like whatever Paramount had lying around in the props department. In the 1966 episode "Miri," for example, Kirk and Spock come across a planet that happens to be an exact copy of Earth in the '60s, with the notable difference that everyone old enough to use deodorant is dead.
Tragically, that included Andy Griffith and Don Knotts. This "post-apocalyptic planet" was in fact the empty set of The Andy Griffith Show.
It takes gumption to try to pass off the set of one of the most iconic sitcoms in TV history -- which was still on the air at the time -- as a ravaged alien planet. Or maybe we're looking at it wrong. What if the implication here is that the town of Mayberry was always in outer space, and they never mentioned it? Suddenly everything about Don Knotts makes a whole lot of sense ...
In 1924, Universal Studios built a truly massive opera set for its adaptation of The Phantom Of The Opera, which boasted a cast of 3,000 people. Today that's a single background shot for Game Of Thrones, but at the time, it was remarkable. But not a whole lot of movies require gigantic opera sets, so after the film wrapped, it was mostly left to rot. There was one franchise that eventually found itself in the market for an enormous neglected theater, however.
In 2011, Disney put out a new Muppet movie. The plot revolved around the Muppets and Jason Segel (the closest thing to a human Muppet) trying to bring back the bankrupt Muppet Theater, which has been abandoned for years. Yep, the place that the Muppets wanted to save was the iconic Phantom's theater. Figuring they'd never beat that one-two combo, the set was dismantled afterward and put into storage, while the historic soundstage that housed it was unceremoniously demolished. We've said it before and we'll say it again: The Muppets are destroyers of worlds.
In Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein, the neurotic grandson of the more famous Dr. Frankenstein decides to restart the "turning corpses into angry monsters" business, because a legacy is a legacy, and hey, it beats working at Walmart. Brooks wanted to make sure the film looked and sounded exactly like a black-and-white horror movie from the '30s, and he did a great job. This really feels like the classic 1931 Frankenstein laboratory!
Probably because it is.
In his quest for authenticity, Brooks went looking for the guy who designed the original lab's props, Kenneth Strickfaden. He not only found the guy, but also the props themselves. Turns out Strickfaden had kept most of them in his garage like so many old NordicTracks. Brooks hired Strickfaden to help maintain the props during filming, and even made a point of crediting him for his work -- something that the original film didn't bother with. So there you go, the perfect anecdote to shut your grandson down when he shows up at your newspaper castle with the cast of Hoarders.
Gone With The Wind had a budget of almost $4 million, which wouldn't fund a YouTube show today, but which back in the '30s was utter insanity. A large chunk of that cash went to renting Clark Gable from MGM because of the overwhelming fan demand that he be cast as the male lead. (The irony of basically having to buy another person to star in a Civil War movie was lost on the studio system.)
The crew was running into budget issues before they even started filming the thing, so the studio looked for ways to stretch their money. One of the biggest drains was the famous burning of Atlanta scene, which required a ton of buildings to be torched to their foundations. Another was the plantation set, which they wanted to build in a studio backlot -- the problem being that the lot was already crammed full of sets from other classic movies.
So they decided to kill two birds with one Molotov cocktail and burn those other sets on camera. Including this guy's favorite hangout spot:
Other sets, including those from The Last Of The Mohicans, The Garden Of Allah, and even Little Lord Fauntleroy, were all lightly dressed up as Atlanta, then torched for cool background effects. Say what you want about the overuse of CGI, but at least nobody's burning down LazyTown for the climactic scene of Bad Boys 3.
Get to writing a movie that requires some great sets with a beginner's guide to Celtx.
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For more, check out 4 Movie Props You Never Noticed Popped Up Everywhere and 23 Props And Sets That Hollywood Won't Stop Re-Using.
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