Posted on March 2, 2008 by Peter Turney
In a previous post, I discussed multiple, independent, simultaneous discovery in science and technology, which supports the claim that science evolves. The authors of Multiple Discovery devote a chapter to arts and literature, but their main focus is science. I was thinking about multiple, independent, simultaneous creation in the arts, and I recalled several cases where two movies on the same theme were released at about the same time, apparently by coincidence:
Popping up to the meta-level, I realized that I was certainly not the first person to notice these “coincidences”. ProhibitOnions has a huge list of films with similar themes and release dates. The interesting question, from an evolutionary perspective, is whether these are coincidence or deliberate. ProhibitOnions writes:
The movie producers may claim coincidence, even when it is not true, in order to make their work seem more original. However, it seems to me that coincidence is indeed the most likely explanation for most of these cases:
(Note the metaphorical allusion to biological evolution, with competing twins. But how can a conjoined twin shoulder its sibling out of the way?) Deliberately copying another movie, without allowing time for it to fade from public memory, and given that the first movie has a head start, is clearly not a good strategy to make a profit.