The Matrix brought Cyber Punk into the mainstream during the late 1990s, when the genre was already almost dead in Sci-Fi literature, and spawned a multitude of movies (I.E. The One) and video games (I.E. Max Payne) which mostly imitated its cinematic style and Bullet Time CGI effects.
Supposedly, when the Wachowskis were peddling their script, they brought with them a comic book and told prospective buyers that they wanted to do something like that into a movie. The comic in question? Ghost in the Shell.
More broadly, Dark City seems to have been the advance guard of a rash of films in 1998-1999 of varying genres involving a closed or false reality. Non-action examples would be Pleasantville, The Truman Show, and maybe even Being John Malkovich. These existed alongside science-fiction titles like E Xisten Z and The Matrix. This may have simply been the spirit of the age, however, and not strictly an example of this trope.
The nature documentary March of the Penguins led to two animated features with penguin characters: Happy Feet and Surf's Up. Both were in production long before March of the Penguins was released (that being the nature of feature-quality animation of either kind), but the success of March probably got them slightly more publicity for getting on the "penguin bandwagon".
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back actually Lampshaded this trend by joking about Hollywood desperately buying up every superhero franchise in sight in order to cash-in on the success of X-Men. In real life, even obscure properties like Namor were optioned for movies after the success of X-Men.
Going slightly further back, Blade was really the first of the modern wave of superhero movies, as well as the one that popularized the use of black leather in place of gaudy superhero costumes. (At least for modern cinema. Batman was wearing black years earlier in the Tim Burton films). It also proved that comic book movies cold be successful even if the subject wasn't initially familiar to the public at large, which proved a particular boon to Marvel (whose major characters didn't have nearly the name recognition of Superman and Batman pre-2000).
After the success of The Dark Knight, many franchise films, some not even related to comics, have followed suit with a Continuity Reboot and Sequel Escalation set in a world that downplays supernatural or overly "fantastic" elements, focus on the origins of iconic items or costuming and villains are more like terrorists in their actions. Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Dredd in particular seem to be tonally inspired by the Nolan Bat-films.
This goes beyond even comic book movies, with reports of planned linked-film franchises based on King Arthur, Robin Hood, and the Universal monster movies (Dracula, Frankenstein, etc.). Dracula Untold had to be hastily re-shot to include an ending setting the stage for a shared universe with the other Universal monsters.
The ultimate example, perhaps, is Star Wars, which launched the science-fiction craze of the late 1970s/early 1980s. It opened the door for expensive fantasy/science fiction movies, and is credited with changing the way big blockbusters are viewed by Hollywood, but most of them were shallow attempts to cash in.
Star Wars is also the reason that Moonraker was made when it was. Originally (in 1977) the next James Bond movie after The Spy Who Loved Me was supposed to be For Your Eyes Only, and indeed the closing credits of the former explicitly state this. The success of Star Wars changed this, and the 'spacey' movie was made. It was mediocre at best, so the next film was far more down-to-earth.
The original Star Wars film itself drew from many sources. The Hidden Fortress connection is well known. The Dune-Tatooine inspiration is pretty obvious. You can tell George Lucas must have seen at least Space Battleship Yamato episodes 26, 1, and 8, in that order, so we can probably pin his famous trip to Japan down to early 1975, when the series went into reruns. Isaac Asimov noticed some similarity to his Foundation series but didn't take it personally. As Wilson Mizner observed, stealing from everybody is just called "research."
The Empire Strikes Back spawned the astonishingly overused cliché of how the villain is the hero's father. The reason it worked in that film was because there was so much talk about Luke's father that the reveal was so surprising and ironic at the time. Nowadays, many writers seem to just throw it in with very little foreshadowing and buildup that it is met with little surprise at the reveal.
While obviously different from other historical epics, films like Gangs of New York also owe a lot to Gladiator, both stylistically and in getting the execs to actually greenlight the massive budgets they needed. Some of these have garnered successes in their own light, not as imitations but as part as a new wave of Epic films.
Before Gladiator brought back Sword And Sandal epics set in antiquity, several medieval or Renaissance period adventure movies were made in the Nineties in the wake of the major hit Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves in 1991. The most obviously derivative is the 1993 version of The Three Musketeers - both movies have a similar light tone, a Laughably EvilLarge Ham of a villain, major liberties taken with both the source material and historical setting, an Award Bait Song by the same artist (plus twoothers later), and even the same cast member playing the top henchman. 1995's First Knight continued the trend with a new take on the King Arthur legend, with Sean Connery as the king (he had a cameo in Prince of Thieves as King Richard). Braveheart, also in 1995, was the biggest historical adventure epic in recent memory before Gladiator, and both won five Oscars in their time. Dragonheart in 1996 was a medieval fantasy with Sean Connery as a dragon. The Man in the Iron Mask in 1998 featured older versions of the characters from The Three Musketeers (but is not otherwise related to the 1993 movie) and was directed and written by the writer of Braveheart.
Soft on Demand, a somewhat infamous Japanese adult video company, created a small series of films called Zenra -X-, where Zenra is the Japanese word for Nude, and -X- is some random everyday activity or sport — for example, Zenra Volleyball, Zenra Cross-town Bus Tour, Zenra Officework, Zenra Orchestra, etc. These films were successful enough and mimicked enough that Zenra has become a genre of Japanese pornography, dedicated to pointless nudity, with little to no sex, and occasional plots. It helps that the Soft on Demand company doesn't take themselves at all seriously.
Night of the Living Dead may have been the first real zombie film, but there were only a few imitators after it, like Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things and the Spanish Tombs of the Blind Dead series. What really set off the zombie film craze was the release of Romero's later Dawn of the Dead and the Italian-made Zombi 2 (Dawn of the Dead was called Zombi in Italy).
Following the blockbuster success of Titanic, several other movies were made about the Titanic and shipwrecks in general to try to follow in its footsteps. Including twoseparate atrocious Disneyesque cheapass cartoon movies with singing animals. Which just goes to show, some people will try to Disneyfy anything.
Pearl Harbor was also a pretty blatant attempt to recapture the tragic-love-amid-larger-historical-tragedy magic that made Titanic so many gazillions.
M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense inspired many movies that completely ignored quality, fun, action and plot, instead focusing on some supernatural twist. They ranged from good to bad to terrible. Unusually, Shyamalan himself seems to have been the main exponent of this trend.
Shutter even tries to look like a Japanese remake (the original was Thai, by the way).
After films like Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady, and especially The Sound of Music hit the big time at the mid-1960s box-office, big studios fast-tracked a ton of big-budget movie musicals. While one, Oliver!, was successful enough to win the 1968 Best Picture Oscar, and Funny Girl launched Barbra Streisand's movie career, changing audience tastes doomed the vast majority of them to significant financial losses. The genre limped through the 1970s and quietly died in the early 1980s (with a mini-revival by way of the Disney Animated Canon in the 90s). Only in recent years has the genre become respectable again, and it's still not particularly profitable (in America anyway - the story is a bit different overseas, with Mamma Mia! outperforming The Dark Knight in several countries, notably Britain).
Ironically, screenwriter Simon Kinberg has said that the upcoming Fantastic Four reboot is also heavily influenced by Batman Begins, as it will have a Darker and Edgier tone and a more realistic setting.
The massive popularity of Bruce Lee after his tragic passing led to a peculiar phenomenon known as "Brucesploitation", in which various Hong Kong studios made movies starring Bruce Lee imitators with titles like Bruce Lee Fights Back From the Grave and The Clones of Bruce Lee. The fad eventually died out when none of the imitators were as successful as the original, though one of them, Cheng Long, would later go on to greater fame by pioneering his own unique, often-imitated, never-duplicated style of martial arts film. You might know him as Jackie Chan.
After The Exorcist made boatloads of money for Warner Bros., the rest of the '70s saw a veritable flood of horror movies based around children: The Omen, The Other, Audrey Rose, etc. Many of its successors (such as The Sentinel) also chose to imitate its preoccupation with the symbolism and aesthetics of the Catholic church, as opposed to the scary-little-kid formula; in fact, any horror movie over the last forty or so years that relies heavily on Catholic iconography could be said to be following in The Exorcist's footsteps.
Star Wars is as far away from an imitator of 2001 as you can get, but John Dykstra continued to use 2001's style of lighting and detailing spacecraft on Star Wars, and from there it became the standard way to depict spacecraft in all of visual science fiction.
The book of Solaris though was written 7 years before 2001 came out, and featured themes like inexplicable aliens, almost empty space stations, and isolation from other humans.
Every few years or so, when a movie shown in 3D becomes a hit, many movies after that will premiere in 3D. The most recent example is Avatar. Quality varies on these films. Some movies will be truly enhanced by 3D, others will look nice but can do without it, and others just don't work in 3D. Avatar, which started the latest 3D movement, was considered by many to look better in 3D. The film version of How to Train Your Dragon and Megamind were considered by some critics, notably Roger Ebert, to look nice, but could work just fine without it. And rushed 3D conversions to cash in this trope (3D tickets are more expensive and thus profitable), such as Clash of the Titans and The Last Airbender, weren't well-received, with the latter even receiving complaints that the botched 3D only made a bad movie worse.
While it isn't necessarily the case, the marketing of The Lone Ranger makes it come across as such, promoting the film as from the same people as Pirates of the Caribbean and showing off Johnny Depp as the deuteragonist. Clearly, Disney attempted to catch that same magic. It didn't work.
The success of Sherlock Holmes (which might've been preceded by From Hell) led to similar steampunk-ish disturbed detective works like Poe where Edgar Allen himself helps solve murders based on his stories, and a version of Robin Hood where the sheriff of Nottingham is pursuing a murderous archer he discovers that Robin was framed and the two bring down the real murderer. Unfortunately that story was too different and what we got was Ridley Scott's Robin Hood.
After Project X came out, real life teens spread the news about their own Project X parties on social networking sites, with over 2000 people showing up to most of them. Two of these parties ended in violent shootings. Oddly enough, one teen got a job offer out of it because of his marketing skills.
When adapting Snow Flower and the Secret Fan to film, the writers added a 21st century storyline to parallel the 19th century storyline from the original novel. This was likely an attempt to emulate the success of The Joy Luck Club. They even got Wayne Wang to direct.
Dino de Laurentiis's career as a producer, from the middle of The Seventies onwards, included a lot of movies that were deliberately trying not only to follow but top the decade's blockbusters:
Jaws's success was the basis for three different de Laurentiis productions featuring frightening beasts: The White Buffalo (1976), King Kong (also 1976), and Orca: The Killer Whale (1977). Though his plans to do a crossover between the latter two films didn't come to fruition, he did make a sequel to the Kong remake in '86.
King of the Gypsies (1978) was his answer to The Godfather, focusing on a different kind of underworld.
Hurricane (1979) was an attempt to capitalize on the Disaster Movie craze.
While the use of post-credits scenes was nothing new (not even in this franchise, as X-Men: The Last Stand already did its own), the Marvel Cinematic Universe popularized their use as a tool for 'world-building', i.e. using them to tie non-sequel movies into a bigger universe. The Wolverine "copies" this concept as it contains a Stinger that ties it into X-Men: Days of Future Past, when originally this movie wasn't going to be related to First Class nor the original series.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has also kicked off a trend of film studios setting all their comic-book films in a Shared Universe. Warner Bros is aiming to create a DC Cinematic Universe by having Batman and Wonder Woman appear in the sequel to Man of Steel. Fox, meanwhile, planned to set their Fantastic Four reboot in the same continuity as the X-Men movies before the idea was scrapped.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was initially going to be a single film, but it had to be split into two parts due to length of the shooting script (nearly 5 hours long). After the two films had a combined box office intake of $2.2 billion (compared to the $1 billion a single film would have brought in), many studios began to split the final films of their franchises into two parts so they can milk them for more profits (examples include Breaking Dawn, Mockingjay, and The Avengers: Infinity War).
The film adaptations of Harry Potter also kickstarted a trend of fantasy epics featuring unknown child and teen actors as the leads - with big name actors appearing in various bit parts and cameos. The Chronicles of Narnia also made a gimmick out of name actors having small roles as insignificant magical creatures.
Film - Animation
The Disney studios in general have always been the most influential animation studio around. Consider the following:
The trend continued. The 1940s character Mighty Mouse was obviously modeled after Mickey, as have been countless "heroic mice" in cartoons ever since.
The Smurfette Principle was actually introduced when Mickey Mouse got a female companion that was basically a copy of himself in female drag. This has been imitated ever since with Daisy Duck, Winnie Woodpecker, Babs Bunny,...
Disney was also the first animation studio to include famous tunes from the world of classical music on the soundtrack, such as Rossini's William Tell Overture whenever characters are running or riding a horse. This has been copied by many other animation studios, most notably Looney Tunes.
Donald Duck was obviously the inspiration for a lot of aggressive cartoon characters, most notably Daffy Duck.
Disney practically invented and popularized the full length animated feature film with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Every animated feature film released ever since took elements from this film: comedic sidekicks, tragicomedic elements, musical numbers, stories inspired by classic literature or fairy tales, ...Even the evil Witch was the blueprint for every Disney villain to come!
The idea of a theme park around famous cartoon characters originated with Disneyland and was also widely copied.
Back in the late-1980s/early-1990s Disney animation renaissance, quite a few 2D animated features were cranked out by other companies (or finally released). Most were fantasy musicals written around a young attractive female who just wants "more" from life (The Swan Princess, Thumbelina), even if they weren't initially written as such (Quest for Camelot, The Thief and the Cobbler).
As The Nostalgia Chick and many others have pointed out, after Don Bluth had an awesome decade of the 1980s while Disney slumped, it turned the other way in the 1990s. Bluth gave in and tried to copy them. Anastasia is probably the most blatant try, even though it's a good movie in its own right.
Thanks to the success of Toy Story, Finding Nemo and other works of Pixar, the movie biz is flooded with CGI children's movies. Nowadays, any animated movie must be computer-generated if is to have any chance against the viewing public, or face utter commercial failure. Hence the saying, traditional 2D animation is dead? Or at least not meant to be taken seriously.
That's arguably, in large part, due to certain box office bombs of the past that have been animated in 2D such as Rock-A-Doodle and Happily Ever After. While most of these bombs were made by companies outside of Disney, Disney itself was not spared. After The Emperor's New Groove, Disney movies would only experience huge success if they were CGI, which, conversely, helped fuel Pixar. One medium's failure is another medium's opportunity.
Disney gave 2D another chance with The Princess and the Frog. While successful, it was not as big a hit as they had hoped, thus resulting in them changing the animation on Tangled from 2D to 3D.
Disney do still try to make one 2D film for every 3D one they produce. After Tangled came Winnie-the-Pooh (though that was buried running alongside the juggernaut that is Harry Potter).
Ironically, Pixar is now developing traditional 2D shorts, such as The Paperman. The pendulum might yet swing back...
The success of Enchanted seems to have helped people realize that a genre/medium is not old technology, it isn't replaced just because something new and flashy comes along. Traditional animation will be coming back when people get tired of CG Animation.
One exception is the popularity of The Simpsons Movie. But to be fair, The Simpsons has been around since 1989, and was obviously bound to do well, thanks to its already long-established worldwide appeal.
Disney started the Celebrity Voice Actor trend as early as the late 1930s, when Cliff "Ukulele Ike" Edwards appeared in some films (most notably Pinocchio) and in 1950 they cast Ed Wynn as the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland. It only really caught on when Robin Williams did the voice of the Genie in Aladdin, however.
To be fair, most of these films have very different plots and settings.
Dreamworks must be the only animated film studio capable of copying off of its own movies. The commercial success of Madagascar begat their other animal movie, Over the Hedge. With that success, Disney finally gave Dreamworks a taste of their own unoriginal medicine with The Wild... Except The Wild was released after, but was in production before Madagascar, so they still ripped Disney off.
This was the greatest weakness of the obscure Van Beuren cartoon studio; while their animation was as off the wall as you could get, their cartoons were very derivative of what other studios were doing, and they were clearly handicapped by their inability to create unique characters. Many of their early 30's cartoons take their surreal cues straight from their rival studio from literally across the street, Fleischer Studios; "The Farmerette" even has an obvious Betty Boop stand in, even voiced by one of her actresses, Bonnie Poe. One of their sound fables, "Panicky Pup", is an obvious knockoff of Fleischer's "Swing, You Sinners!". Their Tom and Jerry note no relation at all to MGM's Tom and Jerry is a flaccid attempt at a Mutt And Jeff-esque duo, and their Milton Mouse and Cubby Bear, as well as their interpretation of Felix the Cat, are obvious Mickey Mouse knockoffs. Their Toddle Tale and some of their Rainbow Parade cartoons ride off the coat of Disney's Silly Symphonies series.
Tex Avery: His style of comedic exaggerations, wild takes, off the wall absurdity, fourth wall breaking jokes and more adult comedy have been ripped off to the point of death by other cartoon shows. Even gags like the "painted tunnel" joke were stolen from him.
Looney Tunes also borrowed a lot from Avery and became very influential itself. Animation with jokes that adults can enjoy are still mostly derived from them, most obviously in Animaniacs.
Crazy and aggressive screwball characters like Daffy Duck likewise inspired a lot of similar insane and annoying characters like Woody Woodpecker.
After the success of The Incredibles, more and more CGI-animated movies started mirroring its method of animating human characters with caricature proportions so as to create smoother human animation and avoid freaking out the audience.