Dueling Film Projects in Hollywood

20 Feb

By Comic Relief

With so many movies dedicated to penguins and vampires, its no wonder audiences are complaining about the dearth of originality in Hollywood.  But even if we ignore how sequels diminish the amount of original material circulated from season to season, we still have  to acknowledged the new trend.

The number of projects dedicated to the same content by different studios is quickly growing.  In 2009 two comedies “Observe and Report” and “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” both dedicated to hapless security guards were developed for Seth Rogen and Kevin James respectively. Universal Studios and Relativity Media are developing two projects “Mirror, Mirror” and “Snow White and the Huntsman” they are both dedicated to the character Snow White.  And scheduled for next year, Spinoffonline.com informs us, that Universal and Warner Brothers are simultaneously developing content for two projects starring Count Dracula.  What is going on?

Please join us for a discussion Tuesday 2/21/2012 @7pm EST./12UTC




84 Responses to “Dueling Film Projects in Hollywood”

  1. Littlebells February 20, 2012 at 10:06 AM #

    I think the studios are suffering from the “Jones’s”: “What? They got a boat? I’m getting a yacht! We’ll see whose is better! Neeneer neeneer neeneer!!!” *sticks tongue out*

    • Open Book February 21, 2012 at 4:39 PM #

      LOL!! ITA LB!

  2. Comic Relief February 20, 2012 at 10:40 AM #


    Actually there’s a Dracula TV show also. For some reason I couldn’t bring myself to type that.

  3. Comic Relief February 20, 2012 at 1:49 PM #

    I thought this might help.

    Shopper’s Security:

    Paul Blart : Mall Cop

    Observe and Report Trailer

    • Littlebells February 20, 2012 at 4:46 PM #

      I watched both and didn’t finish either one. CR, why do you think studios do this?

      • Comic Relief February 20, 2012 at 11:09 PM #


        Oh, well lucky you. 🙂

        I didn’t see either in the theater but I did see “Observe and Report” on DVD. I thought the title was funny. Instead of selecting an authoritative law enforcement title like “Protect and Serve,” they choose a passive saying befitting a job that was less than police work. Unfortunately I can’t say the entire film was as thoughtful.

        I sat through the whole thing and will never be able to get those minutes back. You are fortunate to have exercised your common sense.

        • Comic Relief February 20, 2012 at 11:11 PM #


          I guess what scares me is instead of discovering one gem among a pile of stones. Now Hollywood is willing to make copies for each stone. This means we’re likely to see twice as many terrible movies than in the past, because every idea appears to be a good enough to duplicate.

          • Comic Relief February 20, 2012 at 11:12 PM #


            What scares me is it seems to be a growing trend. I brought the whole thing up because I don’t understand it either.

            Maybe during the discussion we can figure out what this is all about, and where it is going, and why is it happening?

  4. Comic Relief February 20, 2012 at 1:50 PM #

    Fairest of them all:

    Snow White and the Huntsman

    Mirror, Mirror

  5. Comic Relief February 20, 2012 at 1:55 PM #

    Vampire #1; Previous Incarnations


    Bram Stoker’s Dracula

  6. Sony February 21, 2012 at 1:53 PM #

    Great topic, CR!!! You are totally right, we can complain about the death of originality in HW for so many years. One example I would like to add here is the duplicity of making the book “Les liaisons dangereuses” by Choderlos de Laclos into movies at nearly the same time (1988/1989), one by Stephen Frears with the same title and one by Milos Forman calling it “Valmont”. I was so pissed off that two of my favorite directors decided to make their own versions of this masterpiece of a novel within such a small time frame so they would have to compete with each other. Thus forcing me to compare the movies which is very hard. In “Valmont” you have a wonderful young Colin Firth and some parts are truer to the book, on the other hand, John Malkovich gave one of his best performances ever (although he doesn’t look as described by de Laclos, he should have the “face of an angel”) and Glenn Close cannot be topped as Marquise de Merteuil. And the scene where Valmont kicks Madame de Tourvel (Michelle Pfeiffer) to the curb still breaks my heart whenever I see it. Sorry, for being so early this time but I won’t be able to participate at the live discussion tonight, I just wanted to say hello to all of you! 🙂

    • Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 4:33 PM #


      Thank you so much, I should have talked to you prior to writing the article.

      “…here is the duplicity of making the book “Les liaisons dangereuses” by Choderlos de Laclos into movies at nearly the same time (1988/1989), one by Stephen Frears with the same title and one by Milos Forman calling it “Valmont”.”

      In the US, I believe we call this movie “Dangerous Liasons.” Other than the movies you mentioned, there was a television mini-series that starred Catherine Deneuve, Rupert Everett and Nastassja Kinski. Here is the trailer since I could not find one with subtitles. For our non-monolingual audience, enjoy.

      • Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 4:35 PM #


        Regardless of the television show, here are the films you mentioned:

        Dangerous Liaisons

        Valmont Trailer

        • Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 4:36 PM #


          I imagine comparing the two is difficult. Are you saying receiving twice as much isn’t a bonus?

          Thanks so much for saying “Hello.”

          • Open Book February 21, 2012 at 7:41 PM #

            If I may Sony………. Speaking for myself. No its not. The content is being watered down as well as everything else.

          • Sony February 22, 2012 at 9:23 AM #

            Hi Comic Relief,
            thank you very much for the information about the TV miniseries, I didn’t know about that. And receiving twice as much in case of Valmont and Dangerous Liaisons wasn’t a bonus for me because each film took away attention from the other one which really was a pity IMO.
            And I assure you that I’m a constant lurker here and it’s always a pleasure to chat with you!!

  7. Sony February 21, 2012 at 2:21 PM #

    And don’t get me started on Snow White and the Huntsman…a movie I would have liked to watch if they had actually chosen an actress to play Snow White. On the other hand, what I’ve seen so far of “Mirror, Mirror” didn’t appeal to me at all. Conclusion: I will not watch any of these two movies…

    • Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 4:39 PM #

      LOL, I have heard many express the same observations and pledge to do the same.

      • Open Book February 21, 2012 at 4:50 PM #

        I might see “Mirror Mirror.” So far the whimsical nature of the characters and art direction seem to complement each other. Let’s see if the structure of the plot and acting does as well.

        • ozzie20 February 21, 2012 at 8:15 PM #

          That’s the main reason I would why I would watch Mirror Mirror too OB. Plus the fact that it has a better actress for Snow White…….Also, the fact that she’s Phil Collins’ daughter may have a small part in that decision too…..

          • Open Book February 21, 2012 at 8:22 PM #

            Hi Ozzie!!

            Ahhh! I did not know she was Phil Collins daughter. Interesting……MM also has a better director.

            • ozzie20 February 21, 2012 at 8:38 PM #

              Hi OB!

              Yes, I may have been brain washed from a young age to love his solo and Genesis music.Therefore, I must love his daughter too, lol!

              I agree with that MM has the better director. I think this is the first film movie for the SWATH director. I know one of his previous projects was a game trailer, which was highly annoying, and was shown at the beginning and end of each commercial when films were shown on a certain channel here. It drove me insane! That is another reason why I don’t like SWATH, lol!

  8. Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 7:04 PM #


    In the past it appeared that different projects rushed to develop so they were not beaten by similar or competing versions of the same project.

    If you have any ideas as to why Hollywood is doing more of this, please offer your suggestions.

    • Open Book February 21, 2012 at 7:12 PM #

      Hmmm! Let me take a stab at it.

      I think HW is doing this to appeal to a wider demographic. By using similar content to tell the same story is what’s happening on TV as well. I think HW is dumbing down audiences by watering down content in both film and television. IMO Studios are turning into Wal-Mart.

      • Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 7:17 PM #


        …I guess that would be the first attempt at rationale. What do others think?

        • Open Book February 21, 2012 at 7:30 PM #

          I do try!!

          • littlebells February 21, 2012 at 8:03 PM #

            Haven’t we dumbe down society enough???? I agree with you OB. Also it could be said for television too. So many channels and not much to choose from because everything is so similar.

            • Open Book February 21, 2012 at 8:24 PM #

              Hi LB!!

            • ozzie20 February 21, 2012 at 8:41 PM #

              I totally agree OB and LB, especially with the TV programmes too!

  9. Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 7:05 PM #

    The reason we wanted to write this article is the double developing of similar projects, (with the same content), seems to be a growing trend. But according to Sony this isn’t a new trend demonstrated by “Dangerous Liasons”; which was produced in the Eighties. See above posts and comments.

    • Open Book February 21, 2012 at 7:29 PM #

      Well I think this erosion of original material has been happening since the 80’s. In the 80’s Reality TV made its debut. I think similar material and reality TV gives audiences a false sense of security that they are making a good investment without putting forth much thought or effort. There is no appreciation of complex narratives, characters etc… Instead the films are being produced in an assembly line fashion using cheap material.

  10. Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 7:06 PM #

    I hope we can discuss:

    The article mentioned movies;

    – Paul Blart: mall cop
    – Observe and Report

    – Mirror, Mirror
    – Snow white and the Huntsman

    – (unconfirmed title) Dracula
    – (unconfirmed title) Dracula
    – (unconfirmed title) Dracula TV series

    Movies not mentioned in the article;

    – (unconfirmed title) Martin Luther King Jr.
    – (unconfirmed title) Martin Luther King Jr. TV mini series

    – (unconfirmed title) Abraham Lincoln
    – (unconfirmed title) Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

    • ozzie20 February 21, 2012 at 8:28 PM #

      I’m actually interested in seeing how Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter turns out. I can see it either being a great success or an absolute flop! None the less, I do think it’s an interesting twist.

      I wouldn’t mind multiple films on the same subject if they had a different take to them but they don’t. They basically the same cookie cutter films made so sudios can try to get one up over the competition. I think that is the problem.

      • Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 8:37 PM #

        What do the exmaple below make you think?

        • ozzie20 February 21, 2012 at 8:44 PM #

          The Paul Blart and Observe and Report Movies? Let me re-read it. I was going to reply to that anyway, lol!

  11. Open Book February 21, 2012 at 7:07 PM #


    I’m really excited about this topic CR! ITA with Sony…… great topic!

    Francesa- Given u are an expert on this topic as well. I hope u can chime in. Would love to get your thoughts.

    • Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 7:07 PM #

      Hi OB>

  12. Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 7:28 PM #

    When I look at Box Office Mojo’s numbers I would assume opening later promises greater receipts for double developing; even though the content is similar.

    Movie title: studio life time gross theatres opening release date
    Paul Blart Sony $146,336,1783,206 $31,832,636 3,144 1/16/2009

    Movie title: studio life time gross theatres opening release date
    Observe and Report:
    WB $24,007,324 $11,017,334 2,727 4/10/2009

    Does anyone agree that this is smart from a studio perspective.

    • Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 7:29 PM #

      Sorry that might be a little hard to read.

      • Open Book February 21, 2012 at 7:32 PM #

        Uhhh! Can u clarify please……. : )

        • Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 7:36 PM #

          I will repost later.

          • Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 7:51 PM #

            This should be easier to read;

            Movie title:
            Paul Blart: Mall Cop


            Life Time Gross:




            Release date:

            Movie title:
            Observe and Report:


            Life Time Gross:




            Release date:

            • Open Book February 21, 2012 at 7:55 PM #

              Thanks CR! Much better.

              • Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 8:08 PM #

                Well, what do you think?

                • Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 8:39 PM #

                  …..tick tock…

                  • Open Book February 21, 2012 at 8:57 PM #

                    Oh! I’m sorry CR…. I’m thinking.

                    Well I think its a gamble to estimate what will appeal to audiences based on formulas. It’s better to start out with good content, acting and directing. Then trying to go in through the back door with marketing strategies IMO!!

                    • Open Book February 21, 2012 at 9:00 PM #

                      I’m not an advocate of this current SMASH & GRAB similar content agenda in HW.

                    • Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 9:08 PM #

                      Am I wrong, the one that was most likely operating on formulas had the biggest box office. Kevin James’ film, the first example of using this content actually was taking a risk.

                      Contrary to your feelings, do you think broad general audiences prefer the formulas?

                  • ozzie20 February 21, 2012 at 9:08 PM #

                    Sorry, I had to watch the trailers as I haven’t seen either!

                    Ok, my first opinion is how in hell did they make that much money off of two rubbish films! As for your point, I do agree that the films released after the first one should be better as they can see what audiences liked and didn’t liked about the original film. They could then create a better film but in this case I think it’s down to greed so I don’t think they care too much about the quality.

                    • Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 9:11 PM #

                      If quality isn’t really an issue for the second entry film, I guess we should assume SWATH will make the most money of the two Snow White films.

  13. Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 7:37 PM #


    I would agree with your earlier assessment, “Mirror, Mirror” does appear to be extremely fantastic as though it was designed for tweens and younger.

    “SWATH” appears to be designed for the 18-34 demographic.

    Do you believe this is the distinguishing grounds for this trend. The movies are created and marketed for different audiences?

    • Open Book February 21, 2012 at 7:53 PM #

      Let me clarify, I’m not saying MM is a fantastic film. The very idea of rationing out content by expanding on a fairytale is pretty pathetic. I’m waiting for The Easter Bunny bio pic. next!

      • Open Book February 21, 2012 at 7:57 PM #

        In other words kids and adults deserve proper nourishment.

      • littlebells February 21, 2012 at 8:08 PM #

        Nooo!! Dont.give them ideas! Hahaha!

        • Open Book February 21, 2012 at 8:30 PM #

          I’m sure it’s already in post production right in time for Easter. LOL!!

  14. ozzie20 February 21, 2012 at 8:07 PM #

    Hi all! Still having internet troubles (insert very long moan here!). 🙂

    Great article CR! I love that there is so much we can talk about!

    • littlebells February 21, 2012 at 8:09 PM #

      Ozzie! I have missed you!

    • Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 8:09 PM #

      Hi LB & Ozzie.

      • ozzie20 February 21, 2012 at 8:19 PM #

        Hi CR!

        I miss you too LB! *hugs* It’s got to the end of the week and if it hasn’t been sorted I’m switching providers. It’s ridiculous and I miss our chats! 🙂

        • Open Book February 21, 2012 at 8:27 PM #

          I have missed u Oz!! I smite your Internet provider. LOL!!

          • Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 8:36 PM #


            When I said “fantastic” I was talking about the colors of the costumes.

            • Open Book February 21, 2012 at 8:46 PM #

              Ahh! Gotcha!! I thought u drank some funny kool-aid.

              • Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 8:51 PM #

                No. I always thought the costumes were influenced by funny cool-aid.

          • ozzie20 February 21, 2012 at 8:52 PM #

            Lol, OB! I smite it too! I surprised you haven’t seen mushroom clouds in the direction of where I live from the amount of times I have exploded with rage over it! I shall stop talking about it right now because I can feel an epic rage and rant coming on and LIH does not need to feel the force of my wrath, lol!

  15. Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 8:11 PM #

    Multiple projects celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. are in development. Directed by Paul Greengrass, one project pertaining to Martin Luther king Jr. was supposed to be somewhat based on the woman he was with the night he was assassinated.

    A less controversial treatment, the other was a TV miniseries to be directed by Lee Daniels of “Precious” fame.

  16. Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 8:11 PM #

    Do you believe the stakes are different when the character is a real historical figure? Here’s documentary video of the site where King was murdered.

    • Open Book February 21, 2012 at 8:44 PM #

      Well I think when u are dealing with a historical figure like MLK. Where the evidence surrounding his life and death is so complex. I think in this situation looking at it from different perspectives is o.k. However, I think bio pics. should never water down content and should be against the law. Robert Redford took years to research The Conspirator not days and that’s what I fear the most about these MLK films.

      • Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 8:50 PM #

        Why do you believe the MLK film is likely to be so shallow?

  17. Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 8:31 PM #

    Robert Redford concluded a Lincoln conspiracy film last year focusing on Mary Stewart.

  18. Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 8:32 PM #

    Steven Spielberg has been had a President Lincoln film in the works for years. Here’s an example of a previous movie depicting the event.

  19. Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 8:32 PM #

    Speaking of real historical figures again, do you think there’s a difference when studios mix biographic al treatments versus fantasy/action adventure treatments?

    Abraham Lincoln; Vampire Hunter

  20. littlebells February 21, 2012 at 8:35 PM #

    Sorry! My phone spazzed on me!

    • Open Book February 21, 2012 at 8:47 PM #

      Bad phone!

  21. Comic Relief February 21, 2012 at 9:00 PM #

    Unless anyone disagrees I’m going to assume that alternative goals in marketing have had the greatest influence on this trend.

    Thanks for the speculation.

    In you have any other remarks I will return to review later.

    Thanks for coming everyone.


  22. Open Book February 21, 2012 at 9:02 PM #


    I have to go. CR great discussion and topic. I will come back later to answer or comment.

    Take Care!

  23. Francesa February 21, 2012 at 11:57 PM #

    I have a question in regards to the 2 Snow White films. I am assuming that MM will be PG and SWATH will more than likely be PG-13. Do you think that the “Snow White” label will have any bearing on one being more successful than the other?

    Also with respects to biopics, on a whole they have never really been very successful at the box office. I think that the MLK biopics are okay in theory, but as ITA that it is a very complex subject and I think that there would be a limited audience. I don’t know if society is quite ready for that subject matter yet. He is revered by many and looked down on by others.

    • Open Book February 22, 2012 at 8:26 AM #

      Hi Francesa,

      Great questions and comments. Let me see? Well I think the titles do play a huge part in attracting audiences to a film, book and music etc.. I believe the longer the title the less likely people will remember it. Yet, having a familiar name like Snow White gives audiences immediate recognition, it’s only short lived because real connection causes one to think. Take for example MM short, sweet, yet compelling title. Another film recently put out entitled “The Grey” did very well at the box office. Sure it featured Liam Neeson, but speaking for myself? I was curious and lured in by the title and visual concepts etc..

      As for your second comment regarding MLK & bio pics. ITA with u & CR!!

  24. Comic Relief February 22, 2012 at 4:52 AM #


    I think all of these are valid points.

    Despite looking like it is aiming for an older audience, I doubt, unless you know differently, the producers want to risk getting any audience for the film. Other than Twilight, K-Stewart (who plays the title character) has had a history of appearing in a lot of movies that are not profitable box office wise. An R rating for the film would place their financial effort in great danger. I’m sure they will edit or rewrite to avoid this rating.

    And I agree with your assessment of the MLK film. Though most revere him, you are correct not everyone respects him. Building a whole movie on the perspective of an unknown mistress is both controversial and a slap in the face of the main audience they expect to patronize the film.

  25. Parisienne February 22, 2012 at 6:53 PM #

    Hi Everyone!

    CR, very informative article. I don’t like that there isn’t any originality in HW anymore. I agree with LB when she said something about if you have a boat then I have to have a Yacht anology. Although, I don’t think anyone in HW wants to actually work for the yacht but will copy how the boat was purchased. I hope that made sense. 🙂

    Other than financial wise and lack of work ethic, why do you think everyone is copying off of each other. There’s only so many shows about a subject one can do.

    • Comic Relief February 22, 2012 at 9:23 PM #

      It’s odd that this could inspire action, but Paris probably laziness.

      I somewhat understand celebrating two heroic actual public figures who did amazing things and were actually gunned down for it. They have merit and hearing about them might teach us something about leadership, courage, or integrity.

      Two fictional characters like Snow White and Dracula who did their first movies over 50 years ago. Seems like with a little creativity, those characters and the narratives they are appear within could potentially be superseded with more relevant contemporary material.

    • Littlebells February 22, 2012 at 11:35 PM #

      This is how I see HW except for the few that actually are trying to improve the quality of entertainment:

      (FYI, no I am not calling anyone fat! I just thought this would be a great visual of l-a-z-y)

      • Open Book February 23, 2012 at 6:57 AM #

        I have two ways of looking at it. Using time & social responsibility as the mediating factors.

        1. Everything is produced so quickly there’s no time for reflection or evaluation to come up with new ideas etc… Instead things are mass produced and knocked-off. It takes time, courage and vision to be innovative.

        2. I think people sit around on their yacht. Then wake up one day and say. Quick! I need money. Oh! Let me hurry up and produce something so I can go back to sitting on my yacht. People are more concerned about pleasing themselves instead of helping others.

  26. Comic Relief February 25, 2012 at 9:51 AM #

    Because it is our concern and predominantly a feature film phenomenon, I did not mention this competing narrative TV event. But there are competing instances of a “beauty and the beast” TV show. One production is for the CW, the other is for ABC.




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