Nothing screams ‘Oscar-bait’ like a good tearjerking biopic. Hollywood has always loved them, so much so that every now and then there happens to be an overlap of two biopics based on the same person. The latest addition to that list is an upcoming Enzo Ferrari biopic starring Robert DeNiro – no stranger to playing temperamental Italian godfathers. While the director of the film still hasn’t been confirmed, what has been, is the fact that the film finds competition in another upcoming biopic on the founder of Ferrari, this time starring the considerably talented Christian Bale. So why is it that Hollywood gets the same idea twice? Could it be a coincidence?
Bollywood, an industry that has just woken up to the commercial allure of biopics, is no stranger to this phenomenon. Why, otherwise would three separate films on freedom fighter Bhagat Singh be released months away from each other? Take a look at some of the other personalities who were just too interesting for one movie.
The latest chip off the biopic block – Jobs featured a wet behind the ears Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs. A lot was riding on the Punk’d star, who was chosen primarily because of the uncanny resemblance he bore to the Apple CEO. However, his portrayal was far from satisfactory and the movie was panned by critics, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
Two years later, Director Danny Boyle and Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin were asked to step in and give the idea another crack, this time with the formidable Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs. With a stronger cast and script, it looks like they might just get it right.
Troubled geniuses are the go-to guys while making a biopic. American writer Truman Capote got two of his own biopics which were separated by a year. Coincidence? We think not. While one film featured the brilliant but lesser known Toby Jones, the other featured the phenomenally talented and more recognized Philip Seymour Hoffman who went on to bag an Oscar for his performance as the In Cold Blood author.
It appears that even the French are susceptible to the duelling biopics syndrome, as demonstrated by the release of two biopics on French fashion designer Coco Chanel. Coco Before Chanel featured Audrey Tatou as the venerable Coco Chanel and her early years.
A month after Coco Before Chanel’s release came Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky – a film about a more specific period in the life of the designer which received great acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival. Although there was a lot of hubbub about the films’ near simultaneous release, no one really knows exactly why competing studios go after the same theme at the same time.
Anthony Hopkins has given many a riveting performance – he was sensational as impeached U.S President Richard Nixon and he was quirky and complex as English filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock. Clearly there were others who thought differently and went on to cast Toby Jones as the eccentric director in HBO’s The Girl. Although The Girl dealt entirely with Hitchcock’s obsession with actress Tippi Hedren, it was released in the same year as Hopkins’ not entirely successful Hitchcock.