Imagine striking rarified box office gold with franchises like Fast & Furious and Hunger Games. It is inevitable that studios will try copying a movie franchise that has a proven successful formula. However, the results often pale in comparison to the original; a host of failed franchises is testament enough to that. Just consider these examples of Hollywood trying to rip off successful franchises and totally failing.
Ever hear of the movies I Am Number Four or Biker Boyz? Probably not, because they were both critical and box office disappointments. I Am Number Four just tried to be Twilight with aliens, and Biker Boyz attempted to be Fast & Furious on two wheels.
Those imposters simply couldn’t capture the magic that made Twilight and Fast & Furious billion-dollar franchises. But they aren't the only ones. Vote up the movies you think were clearly just blatant rip-offs.
'Orca' Tried To Substitute The Killer Shark In 'Jaws' For A Whale
In 1975, Steven Spielberg made an entire generation of filmgoers terrified to go in the water. The director's high-concept thriller Jaws, about a killer white shark that terrorizes a Cape Cod beach town, was adapted from Peter Benchley's novel of the same name. As of 2019, Jaws ranks as the seventh-highest grossing movie ever made when adjusted for inflation. Perhaps even more important than the bottom line is that Spielberg designed the blueprint for the summer blockbuster as we know it today. Three additional Jaws films were produced, though Spielberg was only involved with the original.
Jaws rip-offs were of course going to follow. One of the most egregious came in 1977: Orca, which exchanged Jaws's killer shark for a killer whale bent on revenge. Orca was heavily criticized for its craven attempt to eat up the scraps left by Jaws. The film did feature some decent special effects, but that hardly made up for its incoherent script and poor execution.
Ian Nathan from Empire wrote:
A cheap and tacky attempt by producer Dino De Laurentiis to cash on the phenomenon of Jaws, in which Richard Harris takes over crusty sea salt duties from Robert Shaw and Bo Derek gets her leg bitten off.
Dale Pollock from the Santa Cruz Sentinel found Orca hard to bear:
Orca is not an easy film to sit through. Not only because of the banal dialogue, the overdrawn performances, or the familiar theme... The real reason is that Orca contains a few sequences so intense in suffering and horror as to be nearly unbearable.12014Total rip-off?
Toys and movies have proven time and time again to be the ultimate marketing team. Sometimes, the toy comes first, while other times the movie comes first. With 2014's hilarious The Lego Movie, the popular toy obviously came first. Almost every kid in the United States owned a Lego at one time or another. The Lego Movie earned over $468 million at the global box office. More toy movies seemed inevitable.
A German company owns the toy line Playmobil, which was created in the 1970s. They resemble Lego figurines. On the global level, the toy companies are rivals, but that rivalry does not really exist in the United States. It probably made sense to the people at Playmobil that they could also produce a successful movie starring their toys that would ultimately make kids want to buy more of their toys.
However, The Lego Movie was not just another toy-themed movie. It was a very clever wink-wink parody that commented on the traditional movie hero. Playmobil was largely criticized for failing to be much of a movie at all. In fact, many thought that it was just a failed attempt to market Playmobil toys. Playmobil was a true box office flop, pulling in just $16 million worldwide.
Nell Minow from RogerEbert.com summed it up best:
It does not even work as a commercial, never showing us why these toys could be especially fun to play with.
Critic Ed Potton from The Times wrote:
Much like the Playmobil toys, with their poky feet and weird, lobster-like hands, Playmobil: The Movie is similar but inferior to the Lego equivalent.11512Total rip-off?
It is 100% guaranteed that any time a franchise makes roughly $6 billion at the box office and produces enough narrative material for nine films, there are going to be a slew of rip-offs. One shameless Fast & Furious rip-off came in 2003 with Biker Boyz. The wannabe high-octane thriller only managed to bring in $23 million worldwide.
Biker Boyz is more or less Fast & Furious with motorcycles instead of cars. The movie is supposed to be an adrenaline-filled look at the underworld life of bike racing; however, the races aren't especially exciting to watch - nor did the characters make an impression the way Dom Toretto and Brian O'Conner did for years.
Kareem Aftab from The List called out the obvious. He wrote:
Basically this is a cheap rip-off of The Fast and the Furious, with fewer thrills, fewer spills, and two fewer wheels.9020Total rip-off?
Zack Snyder's 300 absolutely raked at the box office in 2007, bringing in $456 million worldwide. The comic book adaptation was a highly stylized and uber-violent retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae. It also had a unique bronze look and violent slow-motion battle sequences.
A couple of producers from 300 thought they could cash in on the film's success a few years later with 2011's Immortals starring Henry Cavill. That epic, based on Greek mythology, was also heavily stylized, using the same slow-motion imagery, and even sported a similar hue. Both were also based on comic books. Immortals performed fairly well at the box office, bringing in $226 million on a $76 million budget, but certainly fell short of expectations.
The reviews for Immortals were mixed at best. Most critics agreed the combination of CGI and physical sets gave the Tarsem Singh-directed film an appealing visual style. However, the eye candy could not save the dull story. Roger Ebert responded to the movie with a classic backhanded compliment:
Immortals is without doubt the best-looking awful movie you will ever see.5532Total rip-off?