Zoom: Academy for Superheroes was rushed into theaters shortly after Sky High came out, and the epic failure of the ripoff is probably why more films of this subgenre are not being made. Ironically, Sky High is sort-of a ripoff of the old DCOM Up, Up and Away!, which was made to capitalize on the success of another superhero team movie: X-Men.
The Matrix brought Cyber Punk into the mainstream during the late 1990's, when the genre was already almost dead in Sci-Fi literature, and spawned a multitude of movies (e.g. The One) and video games (e.g. Max Payne) which mostly imitated its cinematic style and Bullet Time CGI effects.
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 eXistenZ and The Matrix. This may have simply been the spirit of the age, however, and not strictly an example of this trope.
Two years before that, Jaws begat the concept of the Summer Blockbuster, along with a slew of "animals attack" movies; one of the first and best copiers was Alligator. One of these films, Piranha, inspired few followers of its own in form of Barracuda and Killer Fish.
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."
A shift in the spy genre occurred in 2002 with the sleeper hit The Bourne Identity. Its success while using a gritty and grounded in reality approach to espionage, combined with the critical failure of Die Another Day, resulted in a reboot for the Bond films, with a back to basics approach and Bond relying more on his fists than his gadgets.
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 could 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 besides Spider-Man 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.
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.
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. Star Wars is also piggy backing on the Extended Universe with The Force Awakens starting not only another trilogy but various other spin-off films focusing on the Rebel Alliance, Han Solo etc. However, due to the abjectfailure to launch successful franchises out of most of these movies, the bandwagon eventually died down.
WB's eventual Justice League movie ended up becoming one of the biggest examples of the trope. Originally conceived as a two-part saga, it ended up being heavily altered after Batman v. Superman was trashed by critics and performed below WB's box office expectations. WB condensed the story into a single movie and brought in Joss Whedon to write new scenes intended to make the film more comedic and lighthearted, blatantly aping Whedon's own work on the Avengers movies. As a result, many reviewers and fans have commented that Justice League feels way more like a Marvel movie than the previous DCEU films.
The ultimate example, perhaps, is Star Wars, which launched the science fiction craze of the late 1970's / early 1980's. 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.
Empire also spawned some trends regarding how sequels are made. At the time, the expectation for any sequel was that it would just rehash the first film, a trend which is sadly still pretty common. Thus, it was rather shocking to have a sequel in which The Bad Guy Wins and the story concludes with a Cliffhanger. Nowadays, it's downright expected that the second installment of any franchise will end with a cliffhanger, particularly if a third installment is guaranteed if not already put into production concurrently. It seems to be the case especially when there's an unexpected breakaway hit that shows up like A New Hope was. Such was the case with the Back to the Future, The Matrix, and Pirates of the Caribbean trilogies. All of which would have a second installment that ends with the cliffhanger where one of the heroes becomes trapped and in need of rescue, as was the case with Han Solo in Empire, that the heroes try to resolve at the start of the third film. Another trend started by Empire is making the sequel Darker and Edgier in order to keep the premise fresh, which is seen in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and The Lost World: Jurassic Park.
Top Gun led to several imitators, from Iron Eagle to the short-lived TV series Supercarrier, the long-lived TV series JAG, as well as a mini-boom of air-combat video games.
Before Gladiator brought back Sword & Sandal epics set in antiquity, several medieval, Renaissance, and or simply swashbuckler 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, a score by the same composer, 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). 1995 also saw the release of two such films about heroic Scottish rebels fighting the English. There was Rob Roy which while not a box office titan received a mostly positive reception as well as a respectable cult following, and then then there was Braveheart which was the biggest historical adventure epic in recent memory before Gladiator. And notably 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. '98 also saw the release of another new-spin on a classic swashbuckling story with The Mask of Zorro which's own success got it a sequel in 2005 entitled The Legend of Zorro and inspired the making of a new film version of The Count of Monte Cristo directed by Kevin Reynolds, the director of Prince of Thieves himself. Following on from Braveheart would be darker and grittier historical films, basically with the emphasis being more on "epic" than "swashbuckler". Including the likes of another Middle Ages film about a commoner turned military leader and war hero who gets executed with The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc in 1999 as well as The Patriot in 2000 which also starred Mel Gibson as a man who has to go to war for independence against the English after his family is attacked by its soldiers. Gladiator itself, also released in 2000, looks to be a part of that group that owed the success of Braveheart for getting made. Complete with also being the story of a family-minded hero who just wants to live the simple life as a farmer who is forced into battle after those he loves are killed by soldiers in the service of a corrupt ruler. Which would make this all really one giant evolving trend of costume drama/adventure films over the span of several years.
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.
Following the blockbuster success of Titanic (1997), 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 (1997) 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.
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).
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 (1976), 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.
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 (2009) (which might've been preceded by From Hell) led to similar steampunk-ish disturbed detective works like The Raven (2012) where Edgar Allan Poe 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 '70s 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 (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.
Although the trend seems to be dying out, with Allegiant quickly becoming a Genre-Killer. First Allegiant - Part 1 and Allegiant - Part 2 were renamed Allegiant and Ascendant, suggesting that Ascendant would be a fully original continuation. Then, Allegiant bombed at box office, leaving the studio trying to conclude the series either as a Made-for-TV Movie or a TV series. However, none of the original cast were contracted for that, and as negotiations dragged on, Lionsgate's rights to the franchise expired, leaving the series Cut Short. In light of that, both Avengers: Infinity War and Justice League quickly dropped "Part 1" and "Part 2" from their titles and were then changed to be shot separately as more traditional sequels.
The success of The Hunger Games seems to have spawned film adaptations of other Young Adult books with dystopian settings, such as Divergent and The Giver. The Giver especially is an odd case, as the book it was based on was written close to twenty years before the current glut of Young Adult dystopias and is quite different in tone and style. The film tried to copy the tone of the newer dystopias, alienating many of the novel's fans.
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.
One of the reasons that most Godzilla fans have such a low opinion of the 1998 American remake is that it was so transparently made to cash in on 1990's Jurassic Park craze, to the point that it resembles Jurassic Park far more than it resembles the actual Godzilla series. Instead of a plasma-breathing mutated dinosaur with a high-pitched keening roar, the Big G is a mutated iguana who looks, behaves and sounds suspiciously like a real Tyrannosaurus rex, she gives birth to a brood of mini-Godzillas who all suspiciously resemble Velociraptors, and there are precisely zero opposing kaiju for Godzilla to fight. Instead of the gleefully pulpy science-fiction epic that was the classic Godzilla series, the remake tried to paint itself as a relatively realistic "Man vs. Nature" action thriller like Jurassic Park, but it just ended up making the story look even more ridiculous.
Fatal Attraction begot Basic Instinct, which itself begot Body of Evidence. Many of the same actors and actresses of the were considered for the male and female leads of the first two films, and one of the many criticisms of the third film was that it was pretty much a ripoff of the second, with it's lead clearly being an Expy of its Femme Fatale (especially with it's lead, Madonna having been among the actresses considered for the female lead in first two films.)
Deadpool was an R-rated superhero movie. It was also well-received and a box office success, which led to a bunch of superhero film directors suddenly deciding to shoot for an R rating as if that were the only reason whyDeadpool was good.
William Goldman referred to two specific films, Easy Rider and Charade, as "money losers," not so much because the films themselves were flops, but because the imitators that came in the wake of these respective films cost Hollywood millions of dollars. Goldman has had some experience with this trope himself, as he wrote the 1992 bomb Year of the Comet, which like Charade, was a romantic comedy/thriller with a male lead inspired by Cary Grant.
God's Not Dead inspired not only a sequel, but a slew of Christian films that starred a B-list actor, took place in a college environment and had an atheist villain.
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.
The success of Clueless - a Setting Update of Emma set in a modern high school - caused a surge of other films doing the same with classical works of literature:
Lawrence of Arabia was so influential in its day that practically every movie set in whole or in part in a desert since it came out has effectively borrowed or outright stolen from it. Echoes of Maurice Jarre's iconic sweeping score can be heard in everything from Stargate to the Brendan FraserThe Mummy Trilogy movies.
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!
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.
Thumbelina, though less remembered than Anastasia presumably because it's simply not as good, is in fact an even more blatant attempt at cloning the Disney Animated Canon style—in particular, The Little Mermaid. Both films are based on a Hans Christian Andersen fairytale about an Interspecies Romance that ends in the heroine becoming her beloved's species. They then went further by taking elements not from the Anderson stories, such as the heroine being red-haired and beloved for her singing voice. They even went as far as casting Jodi Benson in the role of Thumbelina. There were also Aladdin elements, such as an aerial love duet and a Gilbert Gottfried role.
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 that 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... which they only distributed from a small Canadian studio who created the film without Madagascar in mind.
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.