10 Popular Movies That Stole Their Plots From Other Films

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Hollywood churns out hundreds of movies every year.

And many of them follow the same plot structure: we get introduced to the main character, who goes through all sorts of ordeals and successfully overcomes them, bringing the story to a happy ending. However, some films' storylines are not just similar — they're exactly the same.

The Fast and the Furious (2001) vs Point Break (1991)

Point Break takes us into the world of surfing, where undercover FBI agent Johnny Utah befriends a group of surfers involved in bank robberies. Gradually, Johnny comes to like the beach lifestyle, he falls in love, and his trustworthiness as an FBI agent is questioned. The Fast and the Furious shows an LAPD officer Brian who infiltrates a gang of street racers. Then the story repeats itself: the violent lifestyle seduces him, he falls in love, and his trustworthiness is under question. The only difference between the two films is that Point Break hasn't been turned into a franchise of a dozen movies.

A Fistful of Dollars (1964) vs Yojimbo (1961)

Yojimbo, a Japanese film by Akira Kurosawa, is a story of a sword-wielding samurai who lends his services to two criminal gangs. Kurosawa's storyline provided the basis for an Italian western directed by Sergio Leone, who moved the action to the Wild West and replaced the samurai with a marksman named Clint Eastwood. The producers of Yojimbo eventually won a lawsuit, proving that A Fistful of Dollars copied their movie's plot.

Avatar (2009) vs Dances with Wolves (1990)

While Avatar stands out for its technological advances, the movie doesn't have an original storyline. In Dances with Wolves, we see the same characters and events: a lone soldier slowly gains the acceptance of the Sioux tribe, learns their way of life, falls in love, and then fights for them against his own people. There's one other movie, The Last Samurai, which follows the same plot.

Cars (2006) vs Doc Hollywood (1991)

Doc Hollywood tells the story of a young doctor who crashes his car in a small town on his way to LA, stays there for a while, and falls in love with a local girl. The same thing happens to the main character in Cars, except that he's not a man but a car — but, you know, that's only a minor detail.

Disturbia (2007) vs Rear Window (1954)

The basic plot of Disturbia with Shia LaBeouf is almost a copy of Hitchcock's Rear Window: in both films, the homebound protagonist watches people through the window and notices a suspicious neighbor who may be a killer. However, in Disturbia, the details of the story were changed, so the producers didn't have to face a lawsuit.

Fatal Attraction (1987) vs Play Misty for Me (1971)

Play Misty for Me, with Clint Eastwood in the lead, is a film about a disc jockey who spends the night with a groupie and deeply regrets it when she starts stalking him. The movie became the basis for the 1987 blockbuster Fatal Attraction, which turned out to be even more extreme and much sexier. The action is moved from California to New York, and the stalker is even smarter, prettier, and crazier. Fatal Attraction, starring Michael Douglas and Glenn Close, received six Oscar nominations.

Days of Thunder (1990) vs Top Gun (1986)

In one of his reviews, film critic Roger Ebert laid out the formula of a "Tom Cruise Picture". Briefly, it revolves around the character of Tom Cruise, a young and talented guy who can do even better if only he could tame his rambunctious temper. Actually, that's a pretty good description of Days of Thunder, Top Gun, and a couple of other Tom Cruise movies (according to Ebert).

Galaxy Quest (1999) vs Three Amigos (1986)

Both movies are great, but the plot concept of Galaxy Quest — actors mistaken for their characters — was borrowed from the classic 1986 comedy starring Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short.

Go (1999) vs Pulp Fiction (1994)

Go copies the narrative structure of Pulp Fiction: events occur out of chronological order and lead to a shocking denouement. It is quite a good crime comedy from the 1990s, which (obviously) pales in comparison to Tarantino's masterpiece.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) vs Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)

This pair is unique because the Star Wars sequel does indeed copy the original — and the resemblance is too striking. Here are the key similarities: in both films, the main secret is kept in the memory of a droid, and the protagonist, who has to defend it, finds themselves in a world they did not believe to exist.