Every year has its own equivalent to the duelling volcano/asteroid/Truman Capote movies — two films greenlit independently focusing on the same subject matter, and whose fates end up inextricably tied together. 2012 has seen two such square-offs; the Battle of the Snow Whites, with “Snow White and the Huntsman” vanquishing “Mirror Mirror” at the box office, and the Duel Of The Prosthetic Jowls, with HBO biopic “The Girl” taking on the same central character as the upcoming “Hitchcock.” And for our 2013 face off, it looks like we’re getting… “Die Hard” in the White House movies.
Yes, that’s right, two identically-premised films about terrorist take-overs of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. In the blue corner, the early favorite is “White House Down,” directed by explosion maestro Roland Emmerich, scripted by “Zodiac” writer James Vanderbilt, and starring man of the moment Channing Tatum, alongside Jamie Foxx (as the president), Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Woods, Richard Jenkins, Lance Hendrick and Jason Clarke. And in the red, underdog “Olympus Has Fallen,” from director Antoine Fuqua, starring perpetual nearly-man Gerard Butler toplining a cast that also includes Aaron Eckhart (as the commander in chief), Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo, Ashley Judd, Cole Hauser, Radha Mitchell and Dylan McDermott.
The former has the bigger budget, a more reliable leading man, and, perhaps crucially, the word ‘White House’ in the title, which stops it from sounding like a “Clash Of The Titans” knock-off. The latter arguably has the more impressive supporting cast, but a less financially reliable director and toplining star (Butler’s latest vehicle, surfing picture “Chasing Mavericks,” just came out to the ninth-worst wide-release opening weekend in history). But having just landed a distributor, in the shape of FilmDistrict, the company behind “Drive,” it does have one advantage, in being the first film in the theaters, now being set for an April 5th, 2013 release date.
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Not every such duel is won by the first in theaters (see “Deep Impact” and “Mirror Mirror“), but with two such similar premises, FilmDistrict definitely has a chance at acting as a spoiler for their Sony-backed rival. That said, the film’s got some tough demographic competition — the similarly coup-themed “G.I. Joe Retaliation” opens the week before, Sandra Bullock/Melissa McCarthy comedy “The Heat” has the same release date, as does the 3D rerelease of “Jurassic Park,” and “The Evil Dead” remake follows the week after. Frankly, the smart money is still on the Tatum/Emmerich picture, but maybe some footage from one or the other will change our minds. “Olympus Has Fallen” hits theaters on April 5th, 2013, with “White House Down” following on June 28th. [Variety]