Note: These movies are being linked by their common United States wide release date. There are plenty of times movies came out early in other countries or in like two theaters in DC and New York, but for these purposes we're marking these coincidences regarding when the movies were made available to the American public at large.
Two of the hugest movies of the 80s, and they went head-to-heat during one epic weekend. When all the box office reciepts were tallied up, Ghostbusters landed at #2 for 1984, and Gremlins ended up #4. To put that in perspective, that would be like Finding Dory and The Secret Life of Pets coming out on the same day in 2016 -- and you can probably be sure neither of those newer movies will have the cultural impact of Venkman and Gizmo.
These days, movie studios are pretty good about spacing out their animated movies. If Disney and Universal put out Cars 3 and Despicable Me 3 on the same date, nobody wins (especially parents). But back in the late 1980s, Disney and former animator Don Bluth had this pretty brutal rivalry going on. It's hard to imagine now, but there was a time in history when American theaters only saw a couple major animated films per year. In 1989, there were in fact only two, and they debuted head-to-head. The Little Mermaid of course beat the ever loving shit out of All Dogs Go to Heaven, and that's probably why you don't see weekends like this anymore.
One movie is about terrifying new lifeforms that take on human form to survive. And the other is The Thing. Both of them came out in the Summer of '82, and both were dismissed to different degrees. One rapidly changing home video market later, and Blade Runner and The Thing have become staples of sci-fi in their own right -- and all along, they had the same birthday. It's sort of like hearing that Robert Downey Jr. and Kiefer Sutherland were roommates early in their careers.
You can sort of see why movie studios weren't concerned to release these two along side one another. There's not a ton of crossover between Mel Brooks' zany brand of parody and Stanley Kurbrick's dark voyage into the Vietnam War. Even so, there's a distinctly "Odd Couple" thing going on here that would be cute if it weren't for all the atrocities.
1994 was a hell of an era for movies. If you walked into a random theater in October of that year, you could be sitting down to watch Forrest Gump, Jurassic Park, The Mask, Ed Wood, True Lies, Natural Born Killers, Clerks, Clear and Present Danger or friggin' Timecop. This is of course excluding Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption, two movies that both saw wide release on the same weekend, and both went on to become those unmissable classics that you'll stop and watch on TV even if it's on Netflix.
There are plenty of Christmas classics out there, but what's the most recent one you can think of? Since we're not counting The Polar Express or the Jim Carrey version of A Christmas Carol due to the CGI humans being incredibly creepy, the best modern Christmas movies came out over a decade ago. Arguably alongside the cult favorite Bad Santa (which released a week later), 2003's Elf and Love Actually have managed to worm their way into the Must Rewatch During the Holidays category. That's rare enough as it is, but for two movies to do that simultaneously is kind of remarkable.
A year before the Little Mermaid/All Dogs Go to Heaven debacle, Disney and Don Bluth butted heads yet again. What's weird here is that even at the time, critics remarked how much The Land Before Time resembled a classic Disney film, whereas Oliver and Company was a strange modernization of that same house style. There were at least a few more cartoons hitting the big screen in 1988, but unless you count Who Framed Roger Rabbit, TLBT and OaC stood alone, locking arms, determined to eat into each others' business.
Okay okay, I can probably guess your favorite out of these two, but let's look at the broader picture here for a minute. Like Spaceballs and Full Metal Jacket, The Matrix and 10 Things I Hate About You act as "counter-programming" to one another. The former might have an impossible amount of nerd cred, but the latter meant a lot to confused and horny teens. In the end, both of them do a fantastic job of distilling the essence of the 1990s.
This is getting stupid. Disney and Don Bluth's blood feud is just plain pointless. It's hard to figure out if Bluth is trying to stick it to his former employer, or maybe Disney just wanted to curbstomp their biggest competitor to set an example to everyone else.
Judging from an old LA Times article, it seems like Disney may have been the aggressor in this situation. When MGM announced a window for All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 (which to be fair Bluth was not involved in), Disney slotted in a re-release of Oliver and Company for the same timeframe. Talk about dick moves. Retrospectively, the most outrageous slight in this decade of fuck-yous was when Disney countered the first American Tail with -- get this -- a re-release of Song of the South. If you don't know what that is, well, you're better off moving to the next entry.
Before The Fast and the Furious made Vin Diesel a star, two movies put him on Hollywood's radar. Just after his bit part in Saving Private Ryan, VD really starting standing out with Pitch Black and Boiler Room. Plenty of famous actors got their start with a run of notable movies, but hardly any of them can say they came out on the same day.
No matter which one you watch first, this is probably the worst double-feature ever.