Xerox cinema is the tendency of studios to develop and release strikingly similar projects at the same time, a phenomenon that allows a rare opportunity to pit films in head-to-head competition. Here are some of the great Xerox cinema battles of recent years:
The Adjustment Bureau vs. Source Code (2011 sci-fi romances about men literally fighting fate)
Public’s choice: Draw—Matt Damon’s star power helped The Adjustment Bureau to a bigger take, but the lower-budgeted Source Code should show higher profits.
Critics’ choice: Source Code (90 percent to 72 percent approval on Rotten Tomatoes)
Cinema Scoped’s choice: Duncan Jones’ Source Code is flimsy fun, while The Adjustment Bureau is a plodding mess.
Winner: Source Code
Megamind vs. Despicable Me (2010 animated films with supervillains as heroes)
Public’s choice: Despicable Me, by more than $100 million
Critics’ choice: Despicable Me (82 percent to 72 percent)
Cinema Scoped’s choice: Megamind—it’s sharp and satirical where Despicable Me is cluttered and sentimental.
Winner: Despicable Me
The Road vs. The Book of Eli (post-apocalyptic road movies)
Public’s choice: The populist appeal of the action-heavy Book of Eli trumped the literary pedigree of The Road by nearly $90 million.
Critics’ choice: The Road (75 percent to 48 percent)
Cinema Scoped’s choice: Neither film is fully realized, but The Road at least spares us the flippant, trench-coat “cool” of The Book of Eli.
Winner: The Road
Capote vs. Infamous (Truman Capote biopics)
Public’s choice: Capote grossed $28 million; Infamous was barely released into theaters
Critics’ choice: Capote (90 percent to 72 percent)
Cinema Scoped’s choice: Philip Seymour Hoffman is good as Capote, but Toby Jones is brilliant in the superior Infamous.