And now a direct sequel of sorts to Knocked Up is This Is 40
1997's Fierce Creatures featured the same core cast and much of the same crew as 1988's A Fish Called Wanda, and includes at least one explicit Shout-Out to the earlier film, although they are in no way connected to each other.
The actors also play more-or-less similar characters, with Kevin Kline as a dimwitted egomaniac, Jamie Lee Curtis as seductive and manipulative, John Cleese as a stuffy square, and Michael Palin as a weird guy with a bit of a talkingproblem.
Labyrinth is a spiritual sequel to The Dark Crystal, in so far as both films feature the puppeteering of the Jim Henson corps, scenarios co-authored by Henson himself, and production design by Brian Froud. George Lucas was also reportedly involved in the making of both films, though only credited in Labyrinth.
Mirrormask was designed to be the Spiritual Successor to both (but mainly Labyrinth). The original plan was to get David Bowie to play the Prime Minister of the White City, but scheduling conflicts forced them to just have Rob Brydon play the PM and Helena's father.
All three films have been released as a single DVD set called the "Jim Henson fantasy film collection" (which was, incidentally, a ploy to move unsold copies of the original Dark Crystal and Labyrinth DVDs after the deluxe versions came out).
Hot Fuzz is the Spiritual Successor to Shaun of the Dead. It stars several of the same actors and making a number of references to the zombie comedy. Shaun is in turn the successor of Britcom Spaced; the characters from Spaced who do not star all appear either in the other group of zombie fighters Shaun and his friends encounter, or in crowd scenes. Also many of the running jokes between Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead (e.g. 'We're not gay - thanks babe.' and Cornettos) originally come from Spaced. The World's End is the third part of Pegg and Wright's Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy. All three feature a mention of Cornetto ice cream.
Scream (1996) can be considered the spiritual successor of the obscure '80s slasher film Return to Horror High. Not only does the killer in both movies have a black cloak and a white featureless mask, but RTHH was very post-modern for a film of its age: it is about a director making a horror movie about a series of unsolved murders happened in a high school, set in that same school, where the actors playing the parts of the students are getting murdered in "real life"; there's the conflict between the scriptwriter of the film and the director who only wants tits & blood, and the actresses that complain of being used only as fanservice...
Date Movie, Epic Movie, Meet The Spartans, and Disaster Movie (the only real link being their directors, their inability to actually parody the genre they claim, and their total lack of quality), though this dubious quartet probably couldn't come across as more contrived and crass by being a series of actual sequels.
A lot of Jackie Chan movies can be considered spiritual successors of each other, especially his earlier works. You could argue this extends at least some extent to other martial arts movie starts like Bruce Lee and Jet Li.
1997's L.A. Confidential, despite being made by a totally different cast and crew, is considered by many fans to be the Spiritual Successor to 1974's Chinatown, as both are set in Los Angeles, both were made 40 years after the time period in which they are set, and both feature themes of betrayal, corruption of public institutions and officials, and "neo-noir" values. Oh, and both have scores by Jerry Goldsmith.
There is some discussion over whether Confidence is a Spiritual Successor or an updated remake of The Sting. Both feature a team of small-time conmen accidentally ripping off an underling of a crime boss and getting out of it by pulling a much larger and more elaborate con on him.
Similar to the Knocked Up example, Pineapple Express is a Spiritual Successor to Superbad. Both being written by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, produced by Judd Apatow and Shauna Robertson, and distributed by Columbia pictures. In fact, Pineapple Express was greenlit based off of the early positive reaction to Superbad footage.
War, Inc. is the spiritual successor to Grosse Pointe Blank. They both feature John Cusack as a hitman having doubts about his career choice with Joan Cusack as his assistant and Dan Aykroyd in a supporting role.
Grosse Pointe Blank itself is a spiritual successor to Say Anything - although there are some important differences in the backstory, Martin Blank feels in many ways like an alternate history version of Lloyd Dobler 10 years later, with the point of departure being when he joins the army out of high school instead of hooking up with the girl. They're both played by John Cusack (and they both kickbox).
Though it is a spiritual successor to Linklater's 1990 film, Slacker.
Starship Troopers is a spiritual successor to RoboCop (1987). Released ten years apart from each other, both are directed by Paul Verhoeven, share similar themes and are structured around mock broadcasts of news and information.
The films The Snapper and The Van were spiritual successors to The Commitments. They all revolve around a Dublin family with a father played by Colm Meaney and all are based on Roddy Doyle novels. (The novels themselves were actual successors, but due to copyright issues, the name of the family in each of the films was changed).
In The Commitments Outspan ended up as a busker on the streets of Dublin. Twenty years later the same actor, Glen Hansard, starred in Once which opened with his character ...busking on the streets of Dublin. Bonus points due to his character in Once being unnamed.
Casino is a spiritual successor to Goodfellas. Both are gangster movies directed by Martin Scorsese that span several decades, both are based on nonfiction books by Nicholas Pileggi, both star Robert De Niro with Joe Pesci as a sociopathic madman, both rely heavily on narration (occasionally not from the main protagonist), and both chart the rise and fall of eras in the criminal underworld.
Goodfellas is itself a spiritual successor to Scorsese's earlier film Mean Streets. According to the director, each film represents a step up in the mob hierarchy, starting with neighborhood punks and ending with the true power brokers at the top as in Casino.
Screenwriter Terence Winter and Martin Scorsese have essentially noted that The Wolf of Wall Street does for white-collar crime what Goodfellas and Casino do for organized crime.
In South Korea, the film Windstruck is considered to be the spiritual successor to the wildly popular romantic comedy My Sassy Girl. Both were written and directed by Kwak Jae-Yong and starred Jeon Ji-Hyun. Of course, Windstruck should almost be considered a spiritual prequel, as its end is a painfully obvious allusion to its predecessor, with two future lovers meeting at a train station.
Similarly, because they all feature a protagonist who is nameless, are all Westerns, and all star Clint Eastwood, High Plains Drifter and Pale Rider are sometimes seen as ... somehow ... part of the same Weird West world as the spaghetti Westerns. High Plains Drifter in particular was directed by Eastwood in a direct homage to Leone's work.
Clint Eastwood has stated that Unforgiven is a spiritual sequel to the Fistful of Dollars trilogy, as it was deliberately written to deconstruct his earlier works. Some accounts say that he's gone so far as to say its direct sequel.
Both Babel and 21 Grams which were directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu are considered the spiritual sequels of the Mexican film Amores Perros (also directed by him).
The three films also share a screenwriter. The director and screenwriter consider the three films a trilogy.
Mexican director Luis Estrada has made a series of satirical films depicting the country's ailments, starting with La Ley de Herodes depicting the political corruption, continuing with Un Mundo Maravilloso portraying the poverty of the people and finishing the trilogy with the upcoming Infierno that will deal with the violence of the drug cartels. All of them cast the actor Dami Ã¡n Alc Ã¡zar (aka:Lord Sopespian) as the lead.
The film Revolutionary Road is an interesting subversion of Spiritual Successor status. It's set in America, it starred Leonardo diCaprio and Kate Winslet (as husband in wife) in their first film together after they'd co-starred in Titanic. Some people initially thought it therefore as Titanic's spiritual successor. The storyline, however, is, if anything, entirely the opposite of Titanic and only gets worse from there. Plus, it's based on a completely unrelated novel.
The Lion in Winter is a spiritual successor to the earlier film Becket in that they're both historical dramas starring Peter O'Toole as Henry II playing him as an old man in Lion and younger in Becket.
The Seven Ups is a spiritual successor to The French Connection in that it stars Roy Scheider as a New York detective similar to the one he played in the latter movie and had the same producer and composer and even had a car chase like the one in The French Connection.
Super Mario Bros. can be seen as a Spiritual Successor of sorts to Blade Runner as its production designer, David Snyder, was one of Blade Runner's driving art directors. While the exact tone and story of the movie isn't the same the parallel world's appearance was still heavily driven under a "Blade Runner-sensibility".
Really, just about every movie made in the decade or so after Blade Runner combining science fiction and City Noir sensibilities has been invariably compared to that film.
Where the Sidewalk Ends is very much this to Laura. Both directed by Otto Preminger and starring Dana Andrews as a disillusioned New York cop named Mark who falls in love with characters played by Gene Tierney. Mark Dixon in Where the Sidewalk Ends could easily be Mark McPherson from Laura, ten years later and now more jaded, cynical, and violent.
Preminger's Whirlpool was described by Jose Ferrer as "like a sequel to Laura — it had the same star, the same mood and atmosphere."
Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon made a handful of movies that were all spiritual successors to the original The Odd Couple film. The spiritual successors began with Grumpy Old Men and included Grumpier Old Men and Out To Sea...the actual sequel was largely considered a lesser effort than all of the above.
The box office disaster Torque was a spiritual successor to The Fast and the Furious, even having the same producer and featuring the crime and racing genres.
Darren Aronofsky has stated that Black Swan was a "companion piece" to his previous film The Wrestler. In a way, the former is the latter's foil: The Wrestler is about finding beauty in a brutal sport while Black Swan is all about the brutality of a beautiful artform.
The movie Tomboy can be seen as a Spiritual Successor to the My Life In Pink movie released 14 years earlier. They both center around transgender children (one about a Mt F 8 year old and the other around a possibly Ft M 10 year old), are French language, and have the "Just moved to a new town" premise.
Jerry Lewis's comic style has been so influential in movies that many latter-day comedy film stars have been dubbed his successors. Pee-wee Herman, Jim Carrey, and Adam Sandler have all been explicitly compared to Lewis.
Strange Days is essentially an unofficial sequel to Brainstorm, showing the effect on society after the thought-recording technology invented in Brainstorm becomes mass-produced.
The 1980 musical film Xanadu is a spiritual successor to the 1944 movie Cover Girl. In Xanadu Gene Kelly plays an older version of Danny Mcguire (his character in Cover Girl). His character doesn't make any direct references to the story or characters in the older movie except for the mention of once owning a nightclub. Danny also remembers meeting Kira before somehow. Rita Hayworth's role in the older film doesn't really suggest any connectios to Kira or the muses. But In the 1947 film Down to Earth (the direct inspiration for Xanadu), Hayworth actually does play the muse "Terpsichore". And Down to Earth does make references to Cover Girl, however.
According to director Danny Boyle there's a sly connection between Shallow Grave and Trainspotting. Keith Allen portrays a drug dealer in both films — with the intention that we think he may be the same character in both, as Trainspotting was suppose to take place in the late 1980s before the occurrences in Shallow Grave.
How to Train Your Dragon (2010) and The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep (2007) are unintentionally similar. Both are kids' movies about a boy who befriends a large, misunderstood reptilian creature, going against the whims of his family. And the characters have Scottish accents.
Looper is a remake of the 1994 sci-fi film Timecop, but with the camp replaced with being as ultra-stylish as possible.
The fact that child actress Patty McCormack went from playing an Enfant Terrible to an Evil Matriarch 40 years later is the reason why the low-budget thriller Mommy is considered the spiritual successor to The Bad Seed.
The Road can be seen as an unintentional spiritual successor to Road to Perdition as they share many similar themes (apart from the title involving "road" that can easily be confused). Both center around the relationship between a father and son who have nothing left but each other (in both cases he had a wife but she's dead) who through events beyond their control are forced to travel down a "road" both literally and metaphorically trying to survive whilst bringing up questions about morality- the father trying to be a good man doing what's best for his son, trying to find a place for themselves and running into problems on the way, including people who want to kill them. Even the endings are similar, as they both involve them coming to the end of their journey with the father dying but the boy seemingly going off to a better life (although how much better his life becomes in The Road is debatable, given the apocalyptic setting).
The Green Mile is a great film on its own, but it's also an interesting spiritual successor to The Shawshank Redemption (made by the same director). Both are period dramas inspired by Stephen King stories, but instead of going the usual route of looking at his horror stories, Frank Darabont instead looked to some of his unusual works- neither of which was part of the horror genre and one of which had no supernatural elements whatsoever. Both are period dramas set in American prisons during the 20th century dealing with themes of injustice (one involves a man being sentenced for a crime he didn't commit, the other involves a man who tries to comfort prisoners on death row... and then having to carry out their executions). It's also interesting to note the point of view changes between them- Shawshank is told from the point of view of a prisoner, Green Mile is from the perspective of a guard, both of whom are subjected to injustices and try to make the best of their situations with help from a few friends.
The 2004 film Crash to the 1991 film Grand Canyon. Both movies feature the interconnected lives of and then tensions between people of different races and classes in Los Angeles.
Seeing how the subject matter of an ambitious but flawed man struggling with his inner demons and addiction are similar, Flight could very well be a higher-budgeted and more graphic update of The Lost Weekend.
It's Always Fair Weather is a spiritual successor to MGM's film version of On the Town, both being written by Comden And Green, co-directed by Stanley Donen and starring Gene Kelly as one of three military buddies.
Despite being based on a book series that was previously adapted as Point Blank and Payback, Parker could be seen as an ultra-violent remake of the Audrey Hepburn film How To Steal A Million as the two films share similar elements of a heist of priceless artifacts, the pairing of a gentleman thief with a female accomplice and stylish locales as their backdrops (Paris in How To Steal a Million, West Palm Beach in Parker).
The Place Beyond The Pines is a spiritual successor to Drive: Both characters were stuntmen who used vehicles as part of their employment, both were taken in and given a job in a low paying mechanic job where they found them selves doing a crooked sideline to make extra cash, they were also pretty soft spoken but had an air of understated charisma, they both ended up in a precarious predicament due to their criminal activity as well as getting angry with their boss/friend.
Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland is a spiritual successor to Hook, where an iconic literary character returns to a fantastical land after many years away to face old adversaries.
Another Burton film, Big Fish, is arguably a spiritual successor to Forrest Gump. Both are set in Alabama and are about an innocent Everyman telling stories about his life in the past to people in the present; both also have a hint of the supernatural about them; and both have a prominent female character named Jenny!
Speaking of Johnny Mnemonic, there's the direct-to-video "Johnny 2.0", which isn't a sequel but seems to intentionally present itself as one.
Inverted. The Chronicles of Riddick literally is a sequel to Pitch Black, but nothing about it feels so. The first was a pretty standard horror movie with humans in a futuristic setting, while the second has elements of sci-fi and fantasy giving it a completely different feel (Riddick is an alien, now?), right down to the titles of each film. It'd be like placing Hannibal Lecter in an Urban Fantasy as a Noble Demon and calling it a sequel to The Silence of the Lambs... which, in Hannibal Rising, is kind of what they did.
And inverted again with Riddick, which pretty much throws out the previous film in the first few minutes and then rehashes the plot of Pitch Black.
Though "Phantom" came first - just barely - its scene of a muscular, gay Frankenstein monster with a blond pudding-bowl haircut being born inside a tank is so similar to "Rocky Horror" that some screenings of the latter have edited this sequence into the film as a joke.
A small number of fans feel that Shock Treatment was intentionally harking back to "Phantom" - in a number of ways, the new Brad and Janet ARE Winslow and Phoenix, complete with Jessica Harper damn near playing the same role again.
Steven Spielberg's A.I.: Artificial Intelligence serves as this to his earlier film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrialnote Note the similar titles.. Both movies revolve around innocent young suburban male protagonists, and both work archetypal science-fiction tropes (aliens in E.T., robots in A.I.) into Coming of Age Stories. Since the movie was originally going to be directed by Spielberg's close friend Stanley Kubrick prior to his death (with Kubrick ultimately handing the project to Spielberg because he felt that it was "closer to his sensibilities") it's possible that Kubrick envisioned it as a partial homage to Spielberg's previous work.
The Devil's Carnival to Repo! The Genetic Opera. The film was made instead of a sequel to Repo! after creators Terrance Zdunich, Darren Smith, and Darren Lynn Bousman lost the rights to it. As well them both being rock-horror musicals, they both star Terrance Zdunich, Alexa Vega, Nivek Ogre, Bill Moseley and Paul Sorvino.
Day of the Animals to its director William Girdler's previous film Grizzly, since it has a similar location, plot, and shares some of the cast.
Man of Steel can be considered a spiritual successor to Watchmen. Both are superhero films directed by Zack Snyder that deconstruct their protagonists and alternate between past and present scenes.
The World Engine (an octopus-like alien construct with the ability to level an entire city and change the world to the villain's designs) could also be seen as an Author's Saving Throw for replacing Watchmen's octopus-monster with a bomb.
Despite being a Godzilla movie, Godzilla (2014) comes across as this to the other Reboot of his rival franchise, Gamera: Guardian of the Universe. The main monster being a hero in a way that it doesn't really care for humanity but merely protecting it without realizing it? Check. The enemy monster having a Flying creature with Batlike wings with it's mate threatening to kill humanity, not be flat out destroying them, but by spawning more monsters? Check. An attempt to reboot the franchise in a way that's somewhat Darker and Grittier then how most people remember the Titular Monster? Check.
Highwaymen is one to director Robert Harmon's earlier film The Hitcher. Both heavily feature car chases, pursuit along the highways, and a serial killer with a fixation on the male protagonist.
Despite being in a completely different genre, Guardians of the Galaxy has surprisingly a lot in common with Reservoir Dogs, with its fast-paced humor, its ensemble cast of underdog criminals, and its memorable 1970s pop soundtrack (Dogs' "K Billy's Super Sounds of the '70s" vs. Peter Quill's "Awesome Mix" in Guardians). Notably, both movies prominently feature Blue Swede's "Hooked on a Feeling"—a song that Quentin Tarantino is often credited with rediscovering—in pivotal scenes.
Guardians also gained a lot of comparisons to both Farscape and Firefly, due to many similarities in aesthetic, characters, and tone.
Finally, given the fact that Guardians is a reasonably lighthearted supernatural action-comedy with a kid-friendly tone but some seriouscrap-smuggling, you could call it a successor to Ghostbusters.
Multiple academic articles have been written about how Georges Méliès's films are the spiritual successors of the féerie, a spectacular theatrical genre popular in 19th-century Paris.
And hardly any film theorist has been able to talk about the work of the mid-20th-century filmmaker Karel Zeman without either implying, or flat-out stating, that Zeman is the spiritual successor of Méliès.
Ridley Scott's Gladiator has a couple of films that could be seen as spiritual successors to it...
Robin Hood (2010) is often considered a spiritual successor to Gladiator because of how both are historical battle epics starring Russell Crowe and directed by Ridley Scott. This is the one that is most often talked about in this light.
King Arthur, ironically enough another film that serves as a more grounded and gritty retelling of a renowned figure in British folklore, also qualifies as a spiritual successor to Gladiator just as much. Both stories were initially conceived by David Franzoni, Hans Zimmer provided the scores for both, and the two films are Roman era historical battle epics that center around a great and respected officer in the Roman military who has never been to Rome but holds an idealized image of it in his head as the light in a dark and cruel world. An image that becomes effected as their stories go on.
Exodus: Gods and Kings is also pretty obviously one as well. Both films are directed by Ridley Scott, the trailers getting a lot of mileage with the "From the Director of Gladiator tagline", and both are prominently advertised as the story of "One man facing the might of an empire". The parallels are further compounded by how the main antagonist in either film is the lead character's royal surrogate brother (though that comes with the territory given how things go down in the Biblical book of Exodus) but also in how Moses is being portrayed as a military commander before he goes into exile and becomes an agent of God. (Though it was an idea touched upon in Cecil B. De Mille's The Ten Commandments)
It could be argued that Robin Hood (2010) is just as much a spiritual successor to Ridley Scott's other preceding historical epic Kingdom of Heaven as it is to Gladiator. As both are epics set in the Middle Ages, and touch on the corruption and politics of the time. What makes the connections all the more interesting however is the fact that one of the last scenes in Kingdom had that film's lead Balian comes across King Richard the Lionheart on his way to go on the crusade to retake the Holy Land from Saladin. In Robin Hood the film opens up with King Richard and his men on their return journey from his decade long crusade. They even have the lead character Robin Longstride when asked criticize Richard's crusade as well as a massacre of Muslims in the city of Acre. Harkening back to some of the major themes of Kingdom of Heaven.
Finding Forrester is often considered to be a spiritual successor to Good Will Hunting. Both are films directed by Gus Van Sant that center around a low-class young man who turns out to be prodijy in a certain field and winds up finding a mentor who helps him explore his potential.
When it comes to films that involve some of the same players involved in their making you have...
55 Days at Peking qualifies as it was the immediately following Samuel Bronston epic mega-production also based on a historical event/conflict. And like El Cid it touts Charlton Heston as the leading hero, the film being made when it was because of his interest in its script over the already in production The Fall of the Roman Empire, and it somewhat similarly relays a message about unity and peace. Both featuring a diverse group with tenuous relationships that have to come together to help them stave off a powerful threat in a group of radicals that are in a sense seeking to lash out at the "Western World".
The Fall Of The Roman Empire is the one most often considered to be a spiritual successor to El Cid as both are historical epics produced by Samuel Bronston, directed by Anthony Mann and featuring Sophia Loren as the leading female. Charlton Heston, the star of El Cid, was even originally planned to play the lead role. However because of his tenuous relationship with Loren as well as dissatisfaction with the script, in part because he felt it was too similar to Ben-Hur, he wound up declining the part. And after genre veteran Kirk Douglas (aka Spartacus) turned down the part it wound up going to Heston's Ben-Hur co-star Stephen Boyd. Both films also deal largely with the themes of tolerance and honor. They both also have a leading character who is a high-ranking warrior that seeks to bridge his people with their long-standing enemies and contends with his stubborn ruler who they try to remain loyal to in spite of their growing tension as he continually refuses to listen to pleas for unity and peace. However, ironically enough, things end up in near opposite manners. It is also notable that the English actor Douglas Wilmer is in both films.
The War Lord was a subsequent Medieval epic starring Charlton Heston as a knight.
Khartoum like El Cid is a large-scale historical epic that has Charlton Heston play a successful and revered historical figure and military commander as well as a devoted and stalwart Christian. One however who has managed to gain the respect and loyalty of members of both the Christian and Muslim faiths. The conflicts of these films having them square off against a fanatical fundamentalist Muslim leader with an eye for conquest. Along the way he must also contend with the corruption within the system he serves. And both stories ultimately end with the lead heroes becoming martyrs. It is also notable, like for the last film listed, the English actor Douglas Wilmer also appears in both movies.
And when it comes to films that came out a good deal later and don't involve the same cast or crew, but were definitely influenced by it to a sizable degree you have three of the most well known modern Medieval based historical epics...
Braveheart was influenced by it and was a film Mel Gibson grew up with and admired. Both are historical epics set in the Middle Ages that centers around a European country's national hero. Both films centering around their battle to try and keep their country's free and stable. Having to deal with a corrupt outside force trying to take control over them as well as the corruption in his nation's own hierarchy. Both ultimately manage to inspire unity in their people but die as martyrs in the process. It is also notable that the arcs for the young royals Alfonso VI of León & Castile and Robert the Bruce as well as their relationships to the lead heroes are quite comparable up to a point.
Kingdom of Heaven like El Cid is a Medieval based historical battle epic centering around a conflict between Christians and Muslims, wanting to teach a lesson about tolerance to the audience. And it has been said that Ridley Scott was first inspired to wanting to make a crusader movie after having seen El Cid in the theater when he was a young man. Both films center around a historical noble who seeks to create stability in his land of residence, and manages to win the admiration and loyalty from people of both faiths. Both because of his honor, as well as displays of mercy.
Robin Hood (2010) is a film to also take into consideration given the previously mentioned affinity the film's director Ridley Scott has for El Cid. Both films are Middle Ages set historical epics that center around a famous hero from a European nation. (though whether or not Robin Hood actually existed is still in question) The main conflict in either film centers around a foreign ruler trying to conquer the lead hero's nation. Both plan on first making it easier by sowing discord among the nobles of that country who already have tenuous relationships with each other before coming in with his invasion force. The assassination of his brother as a part of this plan leads to a younger and more questionable noble to taking the throne as king. The leading hero manages to bring his nation together as the foreign power is starting its invasion on the coast, with of course a grand battle ensuing.
Duplex has been called a spiritual successor to Throw Momma from the Train. Both are black comedies directed by Danny De Vito that center around a character's (or characters') fixation on murdering an old lady. However the comparison is often used as point of derision, as even the Rotten Tomatoes Critic's Consensus blurb does: "It was funnier when it was called Throw Momma from the Train".
Lawrence of Arabia has no less than three films that could fit the bill as spiritual successors...
Doctor Zhivago: The film's producer Carlo Ponti deliberately wanted the film to be as grand as Lawrence of Arabia. And thus he went on to recruit that film's team. Including director David Lean, screenwriter Robert Bolt, cinematographer Freddie Young, production designer John Box and composer Maurice Jarre. Peter O'Toole was even Lean's initial choice to play the leading role, but he turned it down based upon his grueling experiences making Lawrence of Arabia that created a rift between the two. The role would subsequently go to O'Toole's Lawrence co-star Omar Sharif. Also, Alec Guinness is featured in both films.
Lord Jim: A film released three years later, the same year that Zhivago came out ironically enough, that again sees Peter O'Toole play the role of a British officer who winds up "Going Native" and becoming a leader among a group of foreigners, which leads to him coming to blows with the government he had served.
Khartoum: A film released four years after that is another historical epic that is centered around another famous British military leader that was, ironically enough, even mentioned by Prince Feisal in Lawrence of Arabia with the line, “I think you are another of these desert-loving English – Doughty, Stanhope, Gordon of Khartoum.” In this case it is Gen. Charles "Chinese" Gordon who like Lawrence was eccentric, became something of a loose canon who would go beyond his orders, and felt more comfortable in Arab culture. Both films are also critical of imperialism. Reportedly Alec Guiness, the actor of Feisal, was the original choice to play Muhammad Ahmad. He declined and the role went to Laurence Olivier. Which is very ironic, as Olivier had actually been the first choice for the role of Feisal before Guiness was cast. While the film has been generally well received on its own terms many feel that the comparisons to Lawrence, which came out only a few years earlier, are inevitable.
Django Unchained has been said to be so to Inglorious Basterds. Both films were directed by Quentin Tarantino, and feature members of an oppressed group striking back violently against their oppressors. (Jews against Nazis and a slave against Antebellum South Slave Owners) Both also feature Christoph Waltz in a major supporting role that garnered him an Oscar win.
Defiance could be considered one to Glory. Both are war films that were directed by Edward Zwick and, at least somewhat like the last pair of film ironically enough, center around members of an oppressed group striking back as well as fighting for their freedom.
The Three Musketeers (1993) gives off the vibe of deliberately aiming to be a spiritual successor to Prince of Thieves which came out two years prior. Both were re-iterations of classic stories of swashbuckling heroism, taking several liberties in the process, that center around a rag-tag group of heroes. Both star an awesomely over-the-top antagonist who has received a "Villain Upgrade" of sorts, given how the Sheriff and Richelieu now plot to take over their respective nations with plans that involve them getting with a woman of nobility. Both films also have scores by Michael Kamen and have a pop song attached featuring Bryan Adams.
The Count of Monte Cristo from 2002 was a following swashbuckling adventure film based on a classic European tale from the same director of Prince of Thieves, Kevin Reynolds. Both films featuring a few similar plot elements like centering around a lead hero who after a long time imprisoned returns to find his life in shambles including the death of his father and cecides to fight to seek justice, a sidekick in the form of a man who owes him a life debt, etc.
Spartacus starring Kirk Douglas was a major influence on what are arguably the two most popular historical epics of the modern era, and has been cited as such by their respective directors. Both coming off as being quite similar in spirit...
Braveheart is structurally quite similar to Spartacus, though many of the details are quite different. Each is the story of a low-standing man within an oppressed group who manages to rise up and become a great leader in battling the foreign group seeking to oppress them. Both doing so after a major loss. The lead villain is an extremely high ranking man who seeks to consolidate and expand his own power. His side however early on however does not take the rebellion seriously and think lowly of them, which is something that both the Romans and the English pay for. The two leaders manage to find great success and even start up a (new) romance. After a major betrayal at a key moment however, facilitated by the lead villain buying off important allies, things turn south with the hero's losing and eventually being captured. The hero never submits however, and thus winds up being sentenced to a cruel execution. (Both ending up dying on a cross of some sort no-less) However both have managed to succeed in sending their message to the world, and the audience is left knowing that they actually have conceived a child who will get to live on past him.
Gladiator in many respects is a lot like Spartacus in reverse. One character starting out as a slave/gladiator who manages to rise up into a great, powerful, and respected military leader. While the other starts out as a great, powerful, and respected military leader who winds up being torn down into being a slave/gladiator. However the share certain elements, including a lead villain who is seeking to manipulate the people (though through drastically different means) in order to consolidate his power and essentially supplant the Senate with a lot of political subterfuge and intrigue ensuing as a result. Both also having supporting characters in a gladiator school owner who starts out focusing on making a profit but becomes a key player in the main conflict, as Gladiator having what appears to be a deliberate shout-out to the previous film in the form of having a major character called Senator Gracchus. The Gracchus' in either film being the chief antagonist's main political rival who is fighting for the rights and continued authority of the senate. And again, like Braveheart as well, the lead heroes of both films ultimately die as martyrs.
Perhaps it would be better to call both films (Braveheart and Gladiator) the newer carriers of the torch for the genre, as both feel in many ways like tributes to the Hollywood Epics of yesteryear as a whole. The other film that Ridley Scott cited as an influence on Gladiator, and he as a filmmaker in general, was William Wyler's acclaimed epic Ben-Hur starring Charlton Heston. Another Roman Era epic, that similarly centers around a well to do and morally upright man who is old "friends" with the film's main antagonist. (Perhaps the biggest difference being that Messala's feelings for Judah were genuine, whilst Commodus only ever put on a happy face as a façade) After the hero refuses the antagonist's request to join up with and help him his life is subsequently torn apart and he is made a slave. Though he eventually manages to "rise from the ashes" so to speak and go for justice and repair his life.
The The Prophecy series can be seen as a spiritual successor to the Highlander franchise. As it like its predecessor was created by Gregory Widen and has a mythos that centers around a secret conflict between immortals of mystical power not known to the masses. Not to mention that there is only one very specific way that any members of these groups (The Immortals and Angels respectively) can be killed.
White Christmas serves as this to Holiday Inn. Both are classic holiday centric musicals that star Bing Crosby as an established musical performer who finds love. And both films have an inn serve as a primary location, as well as music by Irving Berlin. Both prominently feature the song White Christmas. The connections were fully intentional, and Crosby's Holiday Inn co-star Fred Astaire was actually offered the part as the other male lead but declined. Leading to the role going to Danny Kaye. And it would even turn out that the two films use the same set for their respective inns.
Snow Dogs could be considered such to Cool Runnings. Both are live-action family films from Disney that are fish out of water tales that involve one or more people going from their warm/comfortable environment to a cold and snowy place where they engage in some sort of winter sport. Both films also share some screenwriters. Those being Tommy Swerdlow and Michael Goldberg.
His breakout film was Captain Blood, and that is a film with what can be considered two spiritual successors:
The Adventures of Robin Hood like Captain Blood is a swashbuckler directed by Michael Curtiz and also has Olivia de Havilland and Basil Rathbone as co-stars. The former as his upstanding love interest, and the latter as a major supporting villain who clashes blades with Flynn by the end.
The Sea Hawk is again a swashbuckling adventure film starring Errol Flynn as a charismatic pirate captain. And once again Michael Curtiz is in the director's chair.
The Mark Of Zorro 1940 while the only film in this bunch not to star Errol Flynn, the lead here being Tyrone Power, it is also a swashbuckler about a famous classic hero taking on corruption in his homeland. Both Basil Rathbone and Eugene Pallette, actors who played supporting characters from Robin Hood, are also featured in strikingly similar roles. The former again as the main antagonist's chief enforcer and rival to the lead, whilst the latter again plays a tough-as-nails holy man who serves as a close ally to the hero.
Adventures Of Don Juan is once again another swashbuckler starring Flynn. He here is once again playing a classic European hero who fights against a corrupt man of power in his nation who is trying to take over and woos a woman of royalty. Even the title seems to be deliberately trying to harken back to that film.
A Christmas Carol directed by Robert Zemeckis serves as this to his preceding CGI-animated Christmas film The Polar Express. Both films are based on a classic book centered around the holiday and are about a person whose perspective on life and attitude towards the holiday are changed as he goes through a supernatural journey started by beings who want to help them "open their eyes" so to speak.. Each also has a leading actor who plays several roles in the film. Ironically enough a marionette puppet of Ebenezer Scrooge appears in the film during the scene where they are in a car filled with abandoned/misfit toys being used by the hobo ghost. The Scrooge played by Jim Carrey in the subsequent film has a strikingly similar appearance/design.
Interstellar to Contact. Both films set out to examine popular sci-fi tropes through a realistic lens, both are based on the writings of Real Life astrophysicists (Carl Sagan for Contact, Kip Thorne for Interstellar), both involve space flights through wormholes and spaceships built in secrecy, both end with the protagonist journeying to a pocket dimension and revisiting an important incident from his/her past, and both feature Matthew McConaughey in a starring role.
Paddington to Mary Poppins and Nanny McPhee. Instead of a magic nanny bringing harmony to a British family, it's a little bear from Peru looking for a new home, and he stays.
Before Taken had actual sequels, there was the 2011 film Unknown (2011) which also starred Liam Neeson as a badass fighting his way through a European city to try and save a family member and during the marketing phase seemed to actually be often mistaken for a Taken sequel.
In a quite bizarre case, American Gangster could be considered such to Virtuosity in that both films star Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe and centers around a good cop's efforts to bring a powerful/dangerous criminal to justice. Ironically enough whilst in the latter Washington plays the cop and Crowe the criminal, they are in the reverse roles in the following film.
Three of the early IMAX space films fit together in a loose sort of way— To Fly! (1976) summarizes history of air and space travel up to that point in time, ending with the launch of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. Hail Columbia! (1982) covers NASA's next human spaceflight after the ASTP— STS-1, the first launch of the space shuttle, highlights the transition from the Apollo program to the space shuttle era, and features astronaut Robert Crippen taking his first spaceflight as STS-1's pilot. The Dream Is Alive (1985) shows the shuttle in its first flush of success ending just before the Challenger disaster, as it carries full crews and launches and repairs satellites, with two of the missions followed showing Crippen having advanced to Shuttle Commander, teaching the ropes to new pilots who are where he was in Hail Columbia!
The Phantom of the Opera (1925) like Hunchback stars Lon Chaney with groundbreaking make-up effects in the form of a deformed Parisian who falls in love with a "normal" woman. With conflict ensuing between the multiple parties associated with and desiring her. Both are also based on classic stories from well known French authors.
The Man Who Laughs from 1928 starring Conrad Veidt is like Hunchback based upon a Victor Hugo novel. Both centering around a malformed but misunderstood man who is mistreated by others and falls in love with, again, a regular woman. Both characters are also known for their iconic make-up effects that brought them to life.
Legends Of The Fall could be considered such to A River Runs Through It. The most obvious thing being that both star Brad Pitt in strikingly similar roles among other similarities in their stories. Including but not limited to that both movies take place in Montana. Both father figures play/played a predominant role in the community (Respected General & Priest). Pitt's character dates an Indian girl who's strongly discriminated against. His character is also openly the family favorite. Both movies have brotherhood as a central theme. The older brother is the more educated/successful one. Weak mother figure presence and importance in both movies. And Pitt's character is the member of the family who is the most 'wild' and who is most unbound by society's rules and expectations.