Every few years it seems that Hollywood churns out a pair of films that follow similar themes. In 1993 George P. Cosmatos released the western thriller 'Tombstone,' the story of Wyatt Earp and the events at Tombstone, AZ in 1881. Six months later, January 1994, Lawrence Kasdan's western epic 'Wyatt Earp' starring Kevin Costner hit theaters. While 'Tombstone' was centralized around an event of Wyatt Earp's amazing life, Costner's movie covers the majority of it. The dueling storyline scenario is about to play out again, this time with the life of Hercules as the theme.
This trend occurs often in the film world. Another example is the release of two victorian era magician films. In September 2006 Edward Norton starred in Neil Burger's 'The Illusionist,' which follows a magician who uses his craft to acquire his love in Vienna, Austria at the turn of the century. The following month director Christopher Nolan's 'The Prestige' hit theaters. Starring Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale it's the story of two magicians in turn of the century London whose rivalry and quest for the ultimate trick has deadly consequences. Friday's release of 'The Legend of Hercules' and the May 25th release of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson's 'Hercules' is another chapter in the tale of hollywood's dueling story-lines.
'The Legend of Hercules' stars Kellan Lutz, is directed by Renny Harlin and is the story of the origins of the character. These events seem to occur before the story of Hercules and his twelve labors, the most well known story about the character. Conversely the Brett Ratner directed 'Hercules' follows the character in his later years, after the story of the twelve labors. The film is based on a graphic novel by Radical Studios and places Hercules in the role of mercenary making a living off his former fame. Both films have high expectations at the box office with Ratner's film having the more lofty of the two.
In nearly every occurrence of the dueling story-lines, whether it's 1998's 'Antz' and 'A Bug's Life' or 2010's 'The Losers' and 'The A-Team,' one of the films usually comes out on top critically, monetarily or both. In the case of 'Tombstone' and 'Wyatt Earp,' 'Tombstone' came out on top on both accounts. With 'The Prestige' and 'The Illusionist' the former exceeded the latter. Only time will tell how this year's Hercules films will fair.