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  • Initiators / Followers
    • Capsule Pitch Description: Description
    • Implementation: Implementation

  • The Last Days Of Pompeii (1913) / Jone, or the Last Days of Pompeii (1913)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: Both were epic films based on Edward Bulwer-Lytton's novel, both from Turin, Italy.
    • Implementation: Apparently there had almost even been a third version by director Caserini (sometimes credited as a co-director on one of them).
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  • Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) / Captain Blood (1935)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: 1935 Best Picture nominees set during the Age of Sail about a dashing British rogue who rebels against his cruel master to become an outlaw of the high seas.
    • Implementation: Mutiny on the Bounty is based on the real-life saga of Fletcher Christian and the settlers of Pitcairn, set in the late 18th century, while Captain Blood is a completely fictional swashbuckler set a bit earlier, during the reign of James II.

  • Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) / Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: Biopics covering Abraham Lincoln's early life, released less than a year apart. John Ford's Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), starring Henry Fonda, focuses on Lincoln's involvement in an 1828 murder case. Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940), directed by John Cromwell and starring Raymond Massey, adapts a successful stage play by Robert E. Sherwood.
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    • Implementation: The major difference between the movies is style: Ford's film is a poetic mediation on Lincoln's legend, hinting at Lincoln's future greatness through metaphor and imagery. Cromwell provides a more straightforward biopic covering Lincoln's life up to the Civil War, recreating key events and speeches.

  • Helen of Troy (1956) / Alexander the Great (1956)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: Both were battle epics released in 1956 set during the time of Ancient Greece about famous figures/events of the era.
    • Implementation: Ironically enough there would be a rematch of sorts decades later in 2004 when Wolfgang Petersen's Troy and Oliver Stone's Alexander would be released close to each other in 2004. That match-up naturally even has its own slot on this list.

  • The Conqueror (1956) / Alexander the Great (1956)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: Both were battle epics released in 1956, their wide releases both falling exactly upon March 28 ironically enough, that center around one of history's most famous conquerors and military leaders. (Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great)
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    • Implementation:

  • Ben-Hur (1959) / Spartacus (1960)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: Both are Golden Age Hollywood era epics that center around a great hero who stands up to and faces the might of the Roman Empire.
    • Implementation: Kirk Douglas desperately desired the role of Judah Ben-Hur that ultimately went to Charlton Heston, and though offered the role as the film's chief antagonist Messala he declined. Shortly after, Edward Lewis, a vice president in Douglas's film company, Bryna Productions, had Douglas read Howard Fast's novel, Spartacus, which had a related theme—an individual who challenges the might of the Roman Empire—and Douglas was impressed enough to purchase an option on the book from Fast with his own financing. Universal Studios eventually agreed to finance the film after Douglas persuaded Olivier, Laughton, and Ustinov to act in it. At the end of the day both films came out within a year of each other, and given all that backstory were in essence born to be rivals.

  • The Great Race (1965) / Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: 1965 epic comedies about an international race at the turn of the 20th century, filed with cartoonish characters and slapstick hijinks.
    • Implementation: The Great Race is a car race inspired by the 1908 New York-Paris race, while Those Magnificent Men is an airplane race inspired by the first crossings of the Channel in 1909-1910.

  • Fellini Satyricon (1969) / Satyricon (1969)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: Two different adaptations of Roman novel The Satyricon released in the same year.
    • Implementation: A rival producer rushed out his own adaptation (which he had already been planning) of Satyricon after hearing about the Fellini project. The Fellini film was then retitled Fellini Satyricon to avoid confusion with the rival project.

  • The Last Emperor (1987) / Empire of the Sun (1987)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: Both are period piece drama films set in (for the most part) early 20th Century China, that are essentially about the coming of age for a young central character and the several trials/tribulations he faces over a long period of time. The likes of which include the lead being a prisoner, and contending with the World War II era Japanese army. The films got their first releases within two months of each other in the year 1987.
    • Implementation: The Last Emperor is a biopic of the real life Chinese Emperor Puyi based largely upon his autobiography while Empire of the Sun centers around a fictional character, though based on the real-life experiences of J.G. Ballard. The author of the novel on which the film is based.

  • Dangerous Liaisons (1988) / Valmont (1989)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: Adaptations of the classic novel Les Liaisons dangereuses. Although these movies were released less than a year apart, both were being made around the same time (in fact, the latter movie was being developed long before the former).
    • Implementation: Dangerous Liaisons was a major studio project with big names, including Glenn Close, John Malkovich, and Michelle Pfieffer, and pre-fame Swoosie Kurtz, Keanu Reeves, and Uma Thurman. Valmont had a less-bankable cast, including then-unknowns Colin Firth and Annette Bening, but it did have director Miloš Forman and leading lady Meg Tilly.

  • Dances with Wolves (1990) / The Last of the Mohicans (1992)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: Movie adaptations of Historical Fiction novels that star A-list actors in the role of a White man who interacts with a Native American tribe amidst the rapidly growing arrivals of European settlers into the American frontier
    • Implementation: In The Last of the Mohicans, the protagonist was adopted by a native tribe and quickly assimilated into their culture. Dances With Wolves by contrast is about a Union officer who is assigned to a fort and befriends the local natives. Both films even have the same actor (Wes Studi) as part of the cast.

  • Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992) / 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: 1992 was the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus landing in the Americas, and Alexander and Ilya Salkind (producers of the Superman films) originally wanted Ridley Scott to direct a film about Columbus. Scott turned them down, but later began work on what became 1492.
    • Implementation: Inevitably, the Salkinds sued Scott, but lost because the first proposal for 1492 predated the Salkinds' project. It is also notable that an animated film about Christopher Columbus came out the same years as these two, again to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the voyage. But...we don't like to talk about it.

  • Braveheart (1995) / Rob Roy (1995)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: Films featuring legendary Scottish heroes sticking it the evil and fruity English.
    • Implementation: Both films ironically enough feature Brian Cox as a supporting character; in the former as a good guy, and the latter as an antagonist. It is an irony that has not been lost on him. He also revealed in an interview that Mel Gibson was ironically enough actually the initial choice for the role of Rob Roy. In that same opportunity he revealed that he thought that Gibson and Neeson would have been more suited in reversed roles.

  • Seven Years in Tibet (1997) / Kundun (1997)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: Biographical films about the 14th Dalai Lama's youth.
    • Implementation: Seven Years in Tibet is based on a book by Austrian mountain climber Heinrich Harrer, who lived in Tibet from 1944 to 1951, a period covering the end of World War II through the Chinese invasion of 1950. Kundun covers a much longer period of time (1937 through 1959).

  • Elizabeth (1998) / Shakespeare in Love (1998)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: 1998 Best Picture nominees set in the Elizabethan era featuring Oscar-nominated performances for the character of Queen Elizabeth I and both featuring Joseph Fiennes.
    • Implementation: Elizabeth is focused entirely on the reign of the young Elizabeth I, while Shakespeare in Love is focused on William Shakespeare and his what-if love life, with Elizabeth getting only a few minutes of screen time (though Judi Dench, as the Queen, steals every scene she's in.)

  • Gladiator (2000) / The Patriot (2000)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: Both are historical battle epic drama films released in the year 2000 that center around a fictional character that is set up against a famous historical backdrop. Both centering around a lead hero that his a veteran soldier/warrior who wants no more than to settle down in a life of peace as a farmer and family man. After his family is attacked by corrupt forces under the control of the rulers of his land he is forced into action where he fights against the corrupt forces in power alongside allies both old and new. At the end the hero manages to engage his arch-rival in a vicious and hard fought final duel where he manages to just barely attain victory with a final strike to the throat with a blade. Afterward in one way or another the hero gets to go where he always wanted. Peace with his family.
    • Implementation: Ironically enough Mel Gibson was the first choice for the leading role of Maximus Decimus Meridius in Gladiator. He declined however, feeling he was too old for the part. Going on then to play Benjamin Martin in The Patriot. Both also interestingly have received their fair share of comparisons to Gibson's popular proceeding historical battle epic Braveheart. (Another film about a man who wants to settle down as a farmer with a family but is forced into action when those he loves are attacked by corrupt ruling forces) As noted in the comparison section, it is interesting to note that the leads are both fictional but drawn on elements from multiple historical figures, acting as a composite of sorts if you will. Rather than being (generally speaking heavily fictionalized) takes on real people/heroes as is done in most other films of their kind like Braveheart and Rob Roy. Maximus having elements drawn from Marcus Nonius Macrinus, Narcissus, Spartacus, Cincinnatus, and Maximus of Hispania. And Benjamin Martin from the likes of Thomas Sumter, Daniel Morgan, Nathanael Greene, Andrew Pickens, and Francis Marion. (5 each ironically enough)

  • The Last Samurai (2003) / Cold Mountain (2003)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: Both films are historical epic costume drama war films released in the December of 2003 centered around a Civil War era soldier who because of winds up abandoning his position and because of that decision has to face-off with the side he once served.
    • Implementation: While the leads aren't exactly criticized that much, many people believe that a supporting performance wound up stealing the show. Them being Ken Watanabe as Katsumoto and Renée Zellweger as Ruby Thewes. Both of whom got Oscar nominations for their performances. The latter however even wound up winning.

  • Troy (2004) / Alexander (2004)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: 2004 released historical battle epics set during the era of Ancient Greece and deal with themes concerning legacy and immortality.
    • Implementation: Ironically enough there is reference to Achilles and Patroclus in Alexander. Alexander's close-friend and lover Hephaestion compares him to Achilles, followed-up with Alexander stating that if he is Achilles, than Hephaestion must be his Patroclus. Ironically enough both got some controversy in certain circles with regards to their characters' sexuality. Some criticized Troy for apparently going out of its way to establish that Achilles and Patroclus' relationship was purely platonic and he a heterosexual. In contrast Alexander would get criticized by some for so much as suggesting that Alexander the great was not heterosexual.

  • King Arthur (2004) / The Last Legion (2007)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: Both are Post-Gladiator Roman Era epics that came out within a few years of each other take place during the decline of the Roman Empire, with them either having abandoned Britannia or are in the process of doing so. Both center around a band of heroes, led by a veteran Roman commander, who are set on a mission to escort a boy of important status to safety. They have to face a powerful "barbarian" force, culminating in a final battle at Hadrian's Wall. Both films also firmly link the King Arthur mythology to Rome.
    • Implementation: The author of the original novel The Last Legion Valerio Massimo Manfredi himself is aware of the similarities between the two stories and has pointed them out before.


  • Kingdom of Heaven (2005) / Arn The Knight Templar (2007)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: Both are Medieval battle epics released during the grand revival of the genre Post-Gladiator that centers around a young man who is disgraced in some way and subsequently goes on a journey to the Holy Land where he becomes a knight and participates in the Crusades. The famous and popular Muslim leader Saladin plays a prominent role in both.
    • Implementation: The historical figures Balian of Ibelin, Guy of Lusignan, and Raynald of Châtillon who are major players in Kingdom of Heaven were actually featured in the Arn novels by Jan Guillou.

  • Black Death (2010) / Season of the Witch (2011)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: Two films released within a year of each other, the former in late 2010 and the latter in early 2011. Both are action/adventure/horror films take place during the Dark Ages as the Black Plague is in full force. Both films are about how a company led by a knight is tasked by the Church to go to a far off village in order to essentially to tackle/investigate potential witchcraft.
    • Implementation: Director Christopher Smith himself rewrote the latter half of the script to Black Death in order to present the supernatural forces at play in a more ambiguous fashion. On the other hand Season of the Witch lays it all out in the open so to speak.

  • Centurion (2010) / The Eagle (2011)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: Adventure movies set in 2nd Century Roman Britain with the "mysterious disappearance" of the Ninth Legion as their inspiration.
    • Implementation: Centurion is an original, Gornasmic chase movie reminiscent of Apocalypto that follows a group of legionaries stranded in enemy territory after their legion is massacred by the Picts. The Eagle is a Darker and Edgier Pragmatic Adaptation of the 1954 classic children historical novel The Eagle of the Ninth, that follows the son of the disgraced general of the Ninth and his Brittonic slave in a mission to recover the Legion's eagle and restore the honor of his family years after the Legion disappeared.

  • Robin Hood (2010) / Ironclad (2011)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: Medieval era battle epics released within a year of each other that center around a disillusioned warrior that fought in the crusades who returns home to England where he must fight for his nation's freedom and security. Both even having a love interest in a woman of nobility. The famous English monarch King John plays a prominent role in both.
    • Implementation: Interestingly enough the lead character of Ironclad Thomas Marshall has been said to have based on one of the William Marshals of the time. The father and son who were the 1st and 2nd Earl of Pembroke respectively. William Marshal the 1st is featured prominently in Robin Hood and portrayed by William Hurt.


  • The Butler (2013) / 12 Years a Slave (2013)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: 2013 racially-charged historical dramas with an All-Star Cast that follow an African-American man over a long period of his life; both were seen as likely Oscar contenders months before their release
    • Implementation: The Butler is a fictionalized, somewhat Forrest Gump-like biography of a butler that served in the White House from the Eisenhower to the Reagan administrations and explores the social changes in America from the 1920s to the 2000s; 12 Years a Slave is an adaptation of the 1853 non-fiction book of the same name by Solomon Northup, that recounts his kidnapping and illegal enslavement in 1841.


  • Outcast (2014) / Dragon Blade (2015)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: Both are films set in the past where characters from Ancient China have to team up with Europeans, with Crusaders in the former and Romans in the latter.
    • Implementation:

  • Carol (2015) / The Danish Girl (2015, released a mere week later)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: Late 2015 period dramas about the titular characters struggling with their sexual identity. In Carol, a woman comes to grips with her identity as a lesbian while embarking on a new relationship amidst an ugly divorce and custody battle in 1950's New York, while in The Danish Girl , set in 1920s Copenhagen, a painter slowly but surely comes to realize that he wants to live as a woman, which naturally causes problems with his beloved wife.
    • Implementation: Both title characters are played by recent Oscar winners, (Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine and Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything) both of whom received Golden Globe, SAG, and Oscar nominations for their current work. And there was controversy over both film's co-leads being nominated for Best Supporting Actress when they had just as much screentime as the leads.

  • Risen (2016) / Ben-Hur (2016)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: 2016 Biblical epics that is each in of itself extra-Biblical but serves as a side story for a man whose life becomes entwined with that of Jesus Christ.
    • Implementation:

  • Hacksaw Ridge (2016) / Silence (2016)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: 2016 period dramas about people's personal Christian faith being tested when up against terribly violent circumstances, both of them in Japan. Oh, and both just so happened to star Andrew Garfield.
    • Implementation: Hacksaw Ridge is a World War II film based on the true story of Desmond Doss, a pacifistic combat medic who finds himself facing both mockery by his allies over holding to his conviction to never killing so much so that he will never carry firearms as well as the harsh Pacific theater of the war. Silence is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Shūsaku Endō that centers around Jesuit priests in search of their lost mentor rumored to have apostatized from the faith who during their journey comes across devout native Japanese Christians as well as the hostile environment surrounding them by the powers that be.

  • Race (2016) / Eddie the Eagle (2016)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: Two 2016 biopics set against the backdrop of the Olympics, both about athletes overcoming intolerance in pursuit of the gold.
    • Implementation: Race is about Jesse Owens' participation in the 1936 Berlin Olympics in total defiance of Hitler's ban on non-Aryan competitors. Eddie the Eagle is about Eddie Edwards' struggle to represent Britain in the 1988 Calgary Olympics despite hardly anyone believing in him.

  • The Promise (2016, widely released in 2017) / The Ottoman Lieutenant (2017)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: Both are historical dramas set during the Ottoman Empire's involvement in WWI, released a little over a month apart; the key way they differ is on the subject of the Armenian Genocide.
    • Implementation: The Promise was financed by the late Kirk Kerkorian, who wanted to finally make a Hollywood film about the Armenian genocide; The Ottoman Lieutenant was financed by the son of Turkey's president Erdogan and is seen by many as a film made to counter The Promise with genocide denial.

  • Outlaw King (2018) / Robert the Bruce (2019)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: Historical films about Robert the Bruce released less than a year apart.
    • Implementation: Outlaw King was produced by Netflix, is intended to be watched on the streaming service and stars Chris Pine as Robert. About Robert the Bruce, Angus Macfadyen reprised the role of Robert from Braveheart and the film had a limited theatrical release in UK.

  • Ridley Scott King David Movie / Warner Bros. King David Movie
    • Capsule Pitch Description: As one would expect, they are both planned large scale historical epics centering around the Biblical figure King David. Though, of course, that is if one of them does not wind up getting cancelled first as was the case with Steven Spielberg's Gods & Kings which was originally set to go head-to-head with Ridley Scott's Exodus that, ironically enough, is now known as Exodus: Gods and Kings.
    • Implementation:

  • The Great Alaskan Race (2019) / Togo (2019) & The Call of the Wild (2020)
    • Capsule Pitch Description: Released less than 4 months apart, these are three northern survival stories centered around one or more sled dogs and their grizzled owner. Alaskan Race and Togo are both live-action dramatizations of the famous "Great Race of Mercy" from Nome to the port of Seward, previously adapted as the animated film Balto (among others). Call of the Wild is an adaptation of the Jack London novel of the same name.
    • Implementation: Regarding the serum run films, while Balto presented a heavily fictionalized version of the story focused on the dog of the same name, Alaskan Race and Togo are based more closely on the actual events; Great Alaskan Race is a Human-Focused Adaptation which downplays the dogs in favor of human drama, while Togo focuses on its titular canine, the second-most famous sled dog associated with the story. Like Togo, Call of the Wild also devotes significant time to the relationship between a single dog and the main human character - in both films, the human lead is played by an older actor of note (Willem Dafoe and Harrison Ford, respectively). In contrast to the serum run films, which use real animal actors, Call of the Wild uses motion capture CGI to bring its dogs to life.

  • Quo Vadis, Aida? / Dara of Jasenovac
    • Capsule Pitch Description: Both are about the real-life historical genocides occurred in the Balkan peninsula.
    • Implementation: Quo Vadis, Aida? centers around Srebrenica massacre in the middle of The Yugoslav Wars where Army of Republika Srpska slaughtered more than 8000 Bosniak men and boys, whereas Dara of Jasenovac is about the wider genocide of Serbs at Jasenovac concentration camp in the Independent State of Croatia during the World War II.

  • Babylon (2022) / Empire of Light (2022) / The Fabelmans (2022)
    • Capsule Pitch Descriptions: Three films scheduled to be released in the fall of 2022 centering on film itself. All three are major award contenders, are directed by respected auteurs (Damien Chazelle, Sam Mendes, and Steven Spielberg, respectively), and have an All-Star Cast.
    • Inplementation: Babylon is the only one of the three to actually take place in the film industry, focusing on the debauchery and excess of 1920s Hollywood as it makes the switch from silent films to talkies. Empire of Light is about a romance that develops between two cinema owners in the 1980s in England. The Fabelmans is a semi-autobiographical look at Spielberg's childhood about a young boy in post-war suburban America who discovers a love of film as his parents' marriage falls apart.

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