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Copycat Cover
Subtle.

Covers Always Lie taken up by marketing. Copycat Covers tend to naturally occur during the release of more popular and better movies and games, and their aesthetic similarity seems intended to confuse less observant customers. This is especially common with stories that were originally in the public domain (Disney is a major victim of this) but might also be done retroactively long after the knockoff's release.

Copycat covers can usually be spied out by being much lower quality and suspiciously lower in price.

A tactic often employed by The Mockbuster. See also Trend Covers.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Film 
  • Pirates XXX was make to bank on the success of Pirates of the Caribbean, by appealing to the crowd who would have liked the Disney movies if not for the fact that you couldn't really masturbate to them (unless your tastes were really weird). Then it gets weird — the director was so proud of his porno that he made an R-rated, sex-free version for public viewing.
    • Flesh Gordon, similarly, started as a porn knockoff of Flash Gordon, but the director was so proud of the special effects that he cut it down to an R and released it in theaters.
  • In the US, a studio called The Asylum is notorious for releasing mockbusters that shamelessly rip off not only the movies themselves, but their posters as well.
    • They've been hit with a hefty lawsuit from Fox over The Day the Earth Stopped. It doesn't help that both titles translate the same way in French.
  • Batman: The Movie has received a new, dark cover made to cash in on the success of The Dark Knight.
    • To clarify, it's nearly identical to the 1989 Batman cover (logo on black background), except it's a red version of the simpler bat logo from the '60s series.
  • As seen above, Basic Instinct was ripped off by Betrayed, which has also been described as "Basic Instinct without sex".
  • The cover of the Strangers with Candy movie is a sleazy parody of the cover of Mean Girls. Justified, as the movie (and the show it's based on) is a darkly comic parody of teen dramas and after-school specials.
  • Hilariously, the newest DVD releases of Near Dark model their covers after the Twilight films. Considering Near Dark features the more archetypal scary, violent, and unsexy vampires, Twifans could be in for quite a show if they picked this one up.
  • Similar to the Near Dark example, the thriller Summer's Blood, starring Ashley Greene as a woman being stalked by a family of serial killers, has a poster designed to cash in on the fact that Greene played Alice in Twilight. It even received a Copycat Title in the form of Summer's Moon. Compare this poster to this one.
    • Probably the most interesting part of the change was that the original tagline, "Abducted by a twisted family, will she become one of them to survive?" was cut down to just "Will she become one of them to survive?" The removal of the context, combined with the change of the background from day to night, the reference to Twilight, and the already-existing blood around the character's mouth, seems designed to make viewers think that the movie will be about the girl deciding whether to become a vampire, rather than just a serial killer!
  • Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All by Myself poster was pretty obviously modeled on the one for Straw Dogs. This was probably an homage people were meant to notice, though.
  • A recent DVD release of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes featuring Basil Rathbone features a cover design that is a blatant attempt to cash in on the new Robert Downey Jr. films.
  • The VHS cover for The Eerie Midnight Horror Show, is ridiculously similar to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, down to the title (the movie itself is a ripoff of The Exorcist). The Cinema Snob even expressed disgust at seeing that the DVD one is nowhere as Narmy.

    Food 
  • Nabisco's healthier Snackwells line of products came out with green labeling. Shortly thereafter, other companies started mimicked the packaging for their healthier offerings. Fast forward ten years, and now it's considered the standard identification for a lower fat, lower sugar, lower sodium food alternative.
  • The packaging for artificial sweeteners plays follow-the-leader with the first product to reach the market. Saccharine is always in pink packages (like Sweet'n'Low), aspartame is blue (like Equal), and sucralose is yellow (like Splenda).
  • There are two kinds of store-brand cereals in the US: those that use similarly themed but distinct mascots, which can taste as good as or even better than the premium brands, like Malt-O-Meal... and those that don't even try to hide what they're copying, and whose taste match those efforts, like Super Value Plus.
    • Or "Cheery Oats," which are virtually identical to the more popular Cheerios. Given that Cheerios are also made from oats, it's difficult to tell why there hasn't been a lawsuit.
  • Decaf coffee carafes in restaurants tend to have orange handles. This is because Sanka, a once-dominant brand of decaffeinated coffee, used orange on its labels and its carafes. Although Sanka is almost a forgotten memory (at least in restaurants,) the mighty orange handle soldiers on.
  • Crisps (potato chips) in the UK are generally colour-coded by flavour: red is Ready Salted, green is Cheese & Onion, blue is Salt & Vinegar, pink is Prawn Cocktail, brown is Barbecue Beef (or similar).
    • Except for Walkers - the dominant brand - who switch green and blue...

    Literature 
  • This is standard industry procedure with books. Whenever a movie or TV adaptation of a book comes out (or of a book on the same topic, or a completely unrelated topic by the same author), a new edition of the book will almost always be printed with a Copycat Cover and a blurb on it somewhere hawking the movie or show.
  • An example that's laced with Hypocritical Humor: Nancy Stouffer, of The Legend of Rah and the Muggles infamy, claimed that the name and likeness of Harry Potter were ripped off from her character "Larry Potter", and re-released the books with the title Uncanny Valley resident on covers so blatantly ripped off from the Bloomsbury editions of the Harry Potter novels that they have to be seen to be believed.
  • Pretty much every vampire book published in the last five years has a cover that looks exactly like Twilight. Even classic romance stories like Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice have appeared with Twilight-inspired covers at some bookstores.
    • Canadian bookstore chains Indigo, Coles, and Chapters (all owned by Indigo Books & Music Inc.) even displayed the Twilight-ified classics together during the marketing for Breaking Dawn.
  • Probably to indicate shared elements (a humorous take on a British empire), the Space Captain Smith novels have similar covers to the British Flashman covers.
  • Odd example in which the two books have the same title and the copied book is fairly obscure. The Big Con is a book about con artists that inspired The Sting and has a reissue cover that looks like this. The Big Con is also the title of a work attacking conservative economic philosophies, which has used this cover and later this one.
  • The Quantum Thief, a post-Singularity Space Opera, was first published in England and was given this cover for the United States printing, which is very similar in font and design to the covers for books in the Culture series- compare.
  • Thanks to the huge boost in popularity Game of Thrones has given to his writing, George R.R. Martin's humorous science fiction novel Tuf Voyaging was reissued, and one of its covers definitely plays off of the Medieval Fantasy setting of A Song of Ice and Fire.
  • The cover of at least one edition of "Divergent" has a burning brooch (that looks suspiciously like the mockingjay pin from "Hunger Games" set against a dark background. Sure, the series starts with a 16 year old girl facing a traumatically special day in her life, and it's told in first person but... erm... "The Hunger Games" it ain't.

    Live Action TV 
  • Some copies of the History Channel's The 300 Spartans have been modified to look like the cover of 300 soon after the DVD release. The resemblance continues in the documentary itself, sepia-tones and all. Only perhaps more historically accurate.
  • The title card for the MTV reality show 16 and Pregnant rips off Juno.

    Video Games 
  • Billy the Wizard, a knockoff of the official Harry Potter video game. Its sequel, about broomstick racing, is a knockoff of HP's Quidditch sequel.
  • An awful lot of so-called "1000-in-1" ROM-loading video game systems mimic the look of consoles current at the time.
  • Pirates was a PlayStation 2 game released right around the time the Pirates of the Caribbean movie came out. Interestingly, the official game for the movie apparently began as an unrelated pirate game.
  • Pyst and its planned sequel Driven had the excuse of explicitly identifying themselves as parodies, and if the developers had had the money for court costs they would probably have won the lawsuit that was filed against them. They did not have the money, so Driven was never made.
  • A promotional CGI render Capcom made for Resident Evil 4 shows Ada Wong posing similar to the way Anne Parillaud did for the La Femme Nikita movie poster. Probably more of an homage than anything else, though.
  • The cover artwork for the original Metal Gear is a blatant trace-over of a promotional still of Michael Biehn in The Terminator.
  • The cover artwork for the NES version of Contra is based on two different promotional stills of Arnold Schwarzenegger from the movie Predator.
  • The cover artwork for Double Dragon Advance is based on a promotional still of Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris from Way of the Dragon.
  • This flyer for the Konami arcade game Majū no Ōkoku (released as Dark Adventure in the United States and Devil World in other regions) is a blatant copycat of the poster for Return of the Jedi (appropriately enough, with the game's Indiana Jones-ripoff protagonist standing in for Harrison Ford).
  • This article from Hardcore Gaming 101 compiles tons of examples, including a few mentioned above. Video game art directors have rarely seemed to have an issue with plagiarism.
  • The cover and title screen of Power Blade show what looks a lot like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

    Theatre 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Pretty much every Disney movie ripoff has one of these.
  • A German company named Dingo Pictures makes these regularly, with badly animated knockoffs of Disney stories and even character designs. A good number of these were released as PlayStation 2 games minigame collections by the infamous Phoenix Games.
  • Goodtimes Video does this against any entry in the Disney Animated Canon based on a Public Domain Character.
  • The posters and DVD covers for the Jimmy Neutron and Hey Arnold! movies both show the same basic art of the protagonist and his friends in the foreground with the film's villain as an Evil Overlooker, with the only major difference being that Jimmy holds a weapon and Arnold doesn't. This was made especially evident when the movies' DVDs were reissued together as a Double Feature DVD release.
  • This is, of course, a poster for Brave. This is the cover to the direct-to-DVD cartoon Braver. Note that the actual cartoon is traditional cel-animation, the lead character wears a pink dress, and she isn't even a redhead, she's blonde. The film was originally released six years earlier as A Fairy Tale Christmas, and this cover gives a better idea of what it's actually like.
  • Avengers Assemble has a DVD cover that blatantly duplicates the movie poster of The Avengers.

    Other 
  • Any number of Chinese cars; Shuanghuan CEO (BMW X5), Great Wall Florid (Scion xA with Toyota Yaris nose), Huo Yun Electromobile (Smart Fortwo), FAW F5 (Volkswagen Jetta) and so on. This doesn't count licensed clones and rebadged cars (Daewoo Lacetti/Chevrolet Optra, or Pontiac GTO and Vauxhall (Holden) Monaro), which are a different matter entirely and a long tradition in the auto industry.
    • A more crude example of the above was seen in a southern Chinese town: an early-model Mazda MX-5 from which all Mazda decals and identifying marks had been carefully removed and replaced with appropriately-located BMW symbols.
  • A college recruiting envelope which said [In large bold print] "Northwestern College of Law" [in small print] "of Lewis & Clark College." Nice try, guys.
    • There's also a "Berkeley College" that likes to advertise in the New York Tri-State area.
  • Private Eye have recently started a column about examples of this trope with book covers. One of the most popular covers appears to be a man in a dark coat striding dramatically away from the viewer into a winter scene.
  • Instant Immersion, a language-learning software that apes Rosetta Stone's yellow packaging. It's significantly cheaper, however, the contents are... considerably cheaper.


Contemptible CoverCover TropesCover Drop
Coordinated ClothesAdded Alliterative AppealCorralled Cosmos
Basic InstinctImageSource/Live-Action FilmsThe Batman

alternative title(s): Cuckoo Case
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