Iconic Movies That Stole Their Plots From Prior Films

Filmmaking is art, and like all other artists, directors and other people involved in making movies take inspiration from their predecessors. Some films may appear to be entirely original, but there’s sure to be at least a few homages made or ideas taken from other movies or filmmakers. At times, these small hints can go unnoticed, or in the case of other films, be completely obvious, like adopting the entire story of another movie. Here are some major films that completely stole the entire plot of another movie made before.

The Fast And The Furious Is Essentially Point Break But With Cars

Two men in a car
Universal Studios
Universal Studios

The Fast And The Furious franchise has grown to become a major blockbuster series since its first release in 2001 and was surprisingly inspired by a magazine exposition about automobile street-racing in New York City. From there, the script grew to follow an undercover cop that becomes a member of the racing community to discover which of the drivers are involved in the robbery of shipments of valuables.

Although this high-action plot may be entertaining, it’s essentially the same story as Kathryn Bigelow’s 1991 Point Break. The key difference is that The Fast and the Furious focuses on the subculture of racing cars rather than surfing and other adrenaline provoking activities seen in Point Break.

A Fistful Of Dollars Resulted In A Settlement After Supposedly Ripping-Off Yojimbo

Clint Eastwood
Unidis
Unidis

In the 1960s, spaghetti westerns became increasingly popular in the United States, with Sergio Leone’s 1964 A Fistful of Dollars making Clint Eastwood the poster boy of the genre. The film follows Clint Eastwood’s character, who finds himself in a town on the Mexican border and a conflict between two families over gold.

After the film’s release, it angered Japanese director Akiro Kurosawa, whose 1961 film Yojimbo was essentially the same story except with samurai instead of cowboys. Kurosawa filed a lawsuit, with Leone claiming that an older play had inspired both directors. Leone ended up paying a settlement but went on two make two more successful sequels.

Toy Story Outshined The Brave Little Toaster

Buzz and Woody
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures

Toy Story may be Pixar’s first feature release and the first entirely computer-animated feature film ever made, but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely original. The groundbreaking movie is closely related to the animated The Brave Little Toaster, which follows a group of anthropomorphic household appliances that journey to find their owner now attending college.

Ironically, many of Pixar’s freshman class worked on The Brave Little Toaster, including director John Lasseter, so not many people were quick to call Toy Story a copy.

The Creators of Alien Watched It! The Terror From Beyond Space To Make Sure They Weren’t Directly Copying

Character in suit
Twentieth Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox

To this day, Ridley Scotts’ 1979 Alien is considered one of the most influential science fiction films ever released. It tells the story of a spaceship crew that is slowly taken out by a flesh-eating, parasitic alien. As impressive as the film was, the plot isn’t necessarily unique and takes a lot from the 1958 film It! The Terror From Beyond Space.

One producer on Alien even admitted that the crew watched the older film on set to make sure that they weren’t copying it entirely. Nevertheless, numerous of Alien’s scenes and the ending are almost identical to the 1958 movie.

Raiders Of The Lost Ark Looked A Lot Like The Secret of The Incas

Harrison Ford
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

George Lucas’ Raiders of the Lost Ark may have set the bar for action-adventure movies, but the director has opened up that it was derived from The Secret of the Incas, starring Charlton Heston.

Many of the film’s key similarities include Indiana Jones’s character looking identical to Harry Steele, with the plot involving buried treasure and other distinguishable elements. The costumer designer on Raiders of the Lost Ark claims they watched The Secret of the Incas several times for inspiration too!

The Island Couldn’t Escape The Clutches of Parts: The Clonus Horror

Johansson and McGregor
DreamWorks Pictures
DreamWorks Pictures

Parts: The Clonus Horror may not be the most talked-about film by movie fans, but surely, many people today have heard of Michael Bay’s science fiction film The Island. Starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlet Johansson, The Island centers on two people in a dystopian future who discover they are clones with their existence being to provide their wealthy “true” selves with bodily parts to prolong their life.

Although this is an interesting concept, it’s almost the exact same as 1979’s Parts: The Clonus Horror, about clones trying to escape to freedom after discovering their purpose. Release of The Island resulted in a lawsuit that was settled out of court.

Star Wars Can Be Connected To The Hidden Fortress

Luke Skywalker
Twentieth Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox

Director George Lucas borrowed countless classic movie tropes when making Star Wars, such as a princess in distress, a wise old master, a gunslinging hero, and more. However, other inspirations clearly came from Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress, which also had the film following two unique characters.

Furthermore, other aspects of The Hidden Fortress that couldn’t be included in A New Hope were squeezed into A New Hope in the following years. The title of Kurosawa’s film is even almost said in Star Wars, although the Imperial Officer speaking is choked before he can finish saying its entirety.

Barb Wire Is A Questionable Take On Casablanca

Pamela Anderson
Gramercy Pictures
Gramercy Pictures

1996’s Barb Wire takes place in 2017 during the Second American Civil War. Based on the Dark Horse comic book series of the same name, it stars Pamela Anderson, a nightclub owner visited by someone from her past and the difficult decisions she is then faced with.

The film has numerous elements from the 1942 classic Casablanca, with Anderson’s character having similarities to Humphrey Bogart’s Rick. However, the two films couldn’t be more different in terms of how they were received, with Casablanca being regarded as one of the greatest movies of all time and Barb Wire being nominated at the Razzies.

Disturbia Is Rear Window Without Humphry Bogart’s Genius

Shia LaBeouf
DreamWorks Pictures
DreamWorks Pictures

Released in 2007, Disturbia is a horror drama starring Shia LaBeouf as a teenager on house arrest that spends his days observing his neighbors. However, after close investigation, he realizes that his neighbor is a serial killer.

Of course, this is no different from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 film Rear Window, which features another man watching his neighbors and discovering a killer. Although Sheldon Abend Revocable Trust sued the Disturbia creators, the court ruled that the film was an original work.

The Hunger Games Was Child’s Play Compared To Battle Royale

Katniss
Lionsgate Entertainment
Lionsgate Entertainment

The Hunger Games may have started as a young adult book series by Suzanne Collins, but the film adaptations beginning in 2012 grew into a cultural phenomenon. Despite its success, The Hunger Games franchise cannot be ignored as an almost carbon copy of the 2000 Japanese movie Battle Royale, which is also about children selected to fight to the death for the wealthy and elite’s amusement.

Although both films’ premise is essentially the same, Hunger Games is rated PG-13 while Battle Royale is R, taking the violence over-the-top at numerous points.

Doc Hollywood But With Cars

Picture of Cars
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures

Pixar’s 2006 Cars follows a hot-shot and needy anthropomorphic race car that crashes in a small town of other cars that he would typically look down on. Yet, after being forced to do community service, he comes to love the town and its citizens and decides to stay.

While the film may have made Pixar a lot of money, it is considered a copy of Doc Hollywood, a film about a successful doctor who finds himself stranded in a small town, performs community service, and ends up living there for good. The Associated Press commented that “It just rips off Doc Hollywood almost note for note.”

Lockout Is A Clear Remake Of Escape From New York

Guy Pearce
Open Road Films
Open Road Films

Lockout is a 2012 action film starring Guy Pearce as a convict that goes on a mission to a prison located in space that is controlled by inmates to save the president’s daughter. While this might sound interesting, on the other hand, Escape From New York is a 1981 classic starring Kurt Russell and is essentially the same story.

The only difference is that the prison is located in a post-apocalyptic New York City, and the protagonist is trying to save the president and not his daughter. Carpenter went on to sue the other director for $2.4 million.

Taxi Driver Has A Western Backstory

Robert DeNiro
Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures

Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver is regarded as one of the greatest movies ever made and one of Robert DeNiro’s most notable performances as Travis Bickle. However, it’s clear that John Ford’s western The Searchers highly influenced Scorsese.

In the film, Ethan Edwards is a Confederate veteran who goes out into the wild to save his niece taken by Comanche. However, in the film’s climactic showdown, Edwards is shocked when he understands that his niece might not want to be saved. Sound familiar?

Chicken Run Took Some Notes From The Great Escape

Animated chickens
DreamWorks Pictures
DreamWorks Pictures

2000’s Chicken Run is the highest-grossing claymation movie ever made, about chickens trapped on a farm that looks suspiciously like a World War II POW camp. Realizing their lives will soon be cut short, they devise an intricate plan to escape to freedom. It’s basically the same plot as the 1963 film The Great Escape with Steve McQueen.

Apparently, co-director Nick Park admitted to BBC that the movie “started from a joke, a spoof on The Great Escape.” Because of this, the creators were sure to pay multiple homages to Great Great Escape throughout their film.

Reservoir Dogs Is City On Fire With A Tarantino Touch

Opening trunk
Miramax Films
Miramax Films

Now an acclaimed director, Quentin Tarantino made quite the splash in Hollywood when he released his feature-length debut Reservoir Dogs in 1992. Although the film is a must-watch for many film fans, its story isn’t all that unique.

Unknown to most, the concept is the same as Ringo Lam’s 1987 film City on Fire. Both movies involve a major heist that goes south, with one of the characters turning out to be an undercover cop. City on Fire also has Reservoir Dogs’ iconic “Mexican Stand-Off” scene, men in matching suits, and more.

First Blood Can Be Closely Compared To Lonely Are The Brave

Sylvester Stallone
Orion Pictures
Orion Pictures

Actor Sylvester Stallone established himself as the traumatized yet formidable Vietnam veteran John Rambo in the 1992 film First Blood. Yet, the concept of a highly skilled soldier being pursued by authorities can be traced back to Kirk Douglas’ character Jack Burns in the 1962 Western Lonely Are the Brave.

Both films involve the protagonist being physically harassed by law enforcement, with the men escaping, resulting in a widespread manhunt. On top of that, both even experience the sticky situation of being corned on a cliff by a helicopter, successfully destroying it with Burns using his Winchester and Rambo a rock.

Quentin Tarantino Snuck In A Little Bit Of The Thing Into The Hateful Eight

Samuel L. Jackson
The Weinstein Company
The Weinstein Company

While Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight can be described as a Western mystery and John Carpenter’s The Thing, a science fiction horror film, the two have more in common than most might assume. In an interview with Christopher Nolan, Tarantino explained that “The Thing is one movie that is one of the most influential on this movie per se.”

Supposedly, the director even screened the movie for his cast to demonstrate the type of atmosphere he was striving to achieve. In the end, both are about a group of people trapped together and the immense lack of trust they have for one another.

There’s A Western Version Of Four Brothers

Picture of Four Brothers
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Four Brothers is a 2005 revenge movie about four brothers from Detroit that set out to catch the killer of their adoptive mother, who turns out to be a local crime kingpin. Nonetheless, this wasn’t the first time a group of siblings would come together to avenge the murder of a parent.

It has been pointed out that Four Brothers isn’t much more than a remake of the Western The Sons of Kate Elder, which also has four brothers setting out to bring their father’s killer to justice. However, Director John Singleton denies these comments, claiming he has never seven seen The Sons of Kate Elder.

The Matrix Owes A Lot To Dark City

Keanu Reeves
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

To this day, The Matrix remains one of the most groundbreaking science fiction films of its time and still has viewers scratching their heads. The film may be seen as revolutionary, but that doesn’t necessarily make it entirely unprecedented. In fact, Alex Proyas’ Dark City came first.

The movie follows the character John Murdoch who begins to notice his city isn’t all that it seems. He then discovers that he’s living in a fake world controlled by aliens that are using humans for their own benefit, which is very similar to The Matrix’s plot. The Wachowskis even used some of the same sets used in Dark City!

Paprika Planted An Idea In Christopher Nolan For Inception

Leonardo DiCaprio
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

There’s no denying that Christopher Nolan’s Inception blew the audience’s hair back for both its complex meaning and impressive special effects. Four years prior, director Satoshi Kon presented a similar film first titled Paprika.

Much like Inception, the characters use a machine to infiltrate people’s dreams to change their personalities instead of criminals. Regardless that their concept may be almost identical, their film styles are drastically different, with Nolan going for spectacle and Kon providing more of a mind-trip.

Moonrise Kingdom Shares Similarities With A Soviet Film

Kids looking at map
Focus Features
Focus Features

Moonrise Kingdom is a 2012 film directed by Wes Anderson that is a coming-of-age film about a young boy that runs away from summer camp and meets a girl. Apparently, this idea for a film was inspired by the 1964 Soviet movie Welcome, Or No Trespassing.

The film features a little boy who is kicked out of his Young Pioneer camp and his adventures sneaking back to not get in trouble with his grandmother. Along with a similar storyline, both directors also pay attention to their films’ symmetry, something Anderson is known for.

The Others Wasn’t Very Innocent

Nicole Kidman
Dimension Films
Dimension Films

The Others is a horror film released in 2001 that is closely associated with the 1961 film The Innocents by genuine horror fans. Although both movies are based loosely based on a novella written by Henry James, The Others is generally considered to be a remake of The Innocents.

Both movies’ basic plot is about a protagonist that moves to a remote country home after World War II with two small children. After some servants’ arrival, it doesn’t take long for the character to begin losing her mind, believing that the house is haunted. There are a few minor discrepancies between the two movies.

Body Double Stole From Two Of Hitchcock’s Classic Films

Man with a camera
Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures

Directed by Brian De Palma, Body Double is a 1984 neo-noir film that stood on the shoulders of two of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic movies: Vertigo and Rear Window. Body Double features a male protagonist confined to his home, where he spies on his unsuspecting and potentially murderous neighbors.

Although De Palma claims that the film was a tribute to Hitchcock, he never received the official rights to use the ideas and was shredded by critics. However, it did receive some attention after Roger Ebert praised it.

Goodbye Solo Wasn’t All That Independent In Its Creation

Men in a car
Axiom Films
Axiom Films

Goodbye Solo is an American independent film directed by Ramin Bahrani featuring a cab driver named Solo that picks up an old and depressed man. The rider, William, then asks Solo if he would assist him in his suicide at the Blowing Rock, with William trying to convince him otherwise throughout the movie.

This is closely related to Abbas Kiarostami’s 1997 Taste of Cherry, which also has its protagonist attempting to recruit people to assist him in his suicide.

A Bug’s Life Has Japanese Origins

Picture of bugs
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures

Several of Disney and Pixar’s films have their origins based on old Japanese stories, and 1998’s A Bug’s Life is no different. The animated feature follows an ant destined to find other bugs that will help save his colony from the violent and destructive grasshopper.

Essentially, it’s an animated remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 classic Seven Samurai. Instead of Samurai, there are “warrior bugs,” and instead of grasshoppers, there are actual soldiers. Besides that, there are a few differences between the two!

Mr. & Mrs. Smith Was Beat To The Punch

Jolie and Pitt
Twentieth Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox

2005’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, a married couple that both live secret lives as assassins, unbeknownst to one another. Unsurprisingly, their veil of secrecy is eventually lifted when the two are contracted to kill one another, creating quite a complicated situation.

While this makes for a good story, this idea was already explored in the John Houston film Prizzi’s Honor 20 years prior to Mr. & Mrs. Smith, making the film appear to be overall unoriginal.

The Boondock Saints Creators Clearly Like Pulp Fiction

Two men
Franchise Pictures
Franchise Pictures

It’s not news that many directors look up to and want to imitate director Quentin Tarantino, specifically his work Pulp Fiction. This was the case for the 1999 action thriller movie The Boondock Saints, which was written and directed by Troy Duffy.

The film is about two men that become vigilantes after killing members of the Russian Mafia in self-defense. From one screening, it’s clear that the film took many ideas from Pulp Fiction, including fake Bible verses, un-chronological storytelling, violence, and more.

Armageddon Is A Tale As Old As Time

People in Suits
Buena Vista Pictures
Buena Vista Pictures

Michael Bay’s Armageddon in a 1996 science fiction disaster movie that centers on a group of deep-core drillers. In a desperate attempt to save humanity, they are hired by NASA to drill into an incoming asteroid to plant a bomb and blow it up before it reaches Earth.

Although the film was the highest-grossing of 1998, it’s hard to ignore its close association with Deep Impact, another disaster movie about a potential mass extinction on Earth due to a massive comet threatening to hit.

The Lion King Took All The Credit From Kimba The White Lion

Picture of Simba
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures

With underlying themes derived from the Bible and Shakespeare’s Hamlet, 1994’s The Lion King is cited as one of the most successful films during the Disney Renaissance. While there’s little argument about the cultural impact The Lion King has made, those that follow Japanese cartoons may notice striking similarities between the 1960s anime Kimba the White Lion.

Kimba was also about a young cub that grows up to return to his rightful place as king. On top of similarities in the plot, originally, Simba in the Disney film was supposed to be white too! While the studio that made Kimba debated on suing Disney, they concluded that the company was too big to take on.

Black Swan Or Perfect Blue?

Natalie Portman
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Fox Searchlight Pictures

In 2010, Black Swan wowed audiences for several reasons, including its emotional depth, impressive ballet performances, and controversial themes such as sexuality and mental health.

The film appeared to be totally original except for some Japanese anime fans that may have noticed similarities between it and Perfect Blue. Perfect Blue is an anime about a pop star under so much pressure that she begins to lose her grasp on reality. The two works even share a scene in which the two girls battle with their “double,” ending in smashing some glass.