Why do films come in pairs?

So, why do films come in pairs?  I wonder.

For that, I mean two films with very similar themes being released in cinemas – unexplainably – almost simultaneously.  How did this happen?

I am not the only person to notice this; here are some examples:

1993/1994 – Tombstone and Wyatt Earp
1998 – Armageddon and Deep Impact
1998 – The Thin Red Line and Saving Private Ryan
1998 – Antz and A Bug’s Life
2003, 2004 – Finding Nemo and Shark Tale
2004, 2005 – Ray and Walk the Line
2006 – Flight 93 and World Trade Center
2006 – The Illusionist and The Prestige (Can you remember which is which from the titles?  I can’t.)

And how about body swap stories, end of the world stories, Truman Capote biopics, baseball films, Joan of Arc biopics, etc.

The latest pair – both currently playing in Australian cinemas – is “completely disabled man finds happiness and sexual fulfilment”.  We have The Sessions (from the USA) and The Intouchables (from France).  Both are quality films, but this time – incredibly – the French film is easily out-performing the American one in the box office in both countries, as the box office table below indicates (figures current as of 3 December 2012, although The Intouchables North American box office does not include Canada, which would improve its standing by at least ten percent, and possibly more because of French Canada.

Film North American box office (US$) Australian box office (AUS$) Ratio: North America to Australia
The Sessions

$4,582,181

$1,012,435

4.5

The Intouchables

$10,056,772

$4,419,343

2.3

Note:  the standard projected North American box office to Australian box office is 10:1; on that basis both films are doing comparatively very well in Australia and much more popular than would normally be expected.

(Prediction: The Intouchables may feature high on Oscar nominations, especially for best foreign language film and its two lead actors.  It’s a crowd-pleaser.)

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