You might remember the crazy 1998 when DreamWorks and Disney tried to outmaneuver each other with similarly themed films, Antz & A Bug’s Life and Deep Impact & Armageddon, with DreamWorks getting its movies (Antz, Deep Impact) released one to two months before Disney’s. In the end, all four movies did well, and A Bug’s Life and Armageddon’s blockbuster status was not seriously threatened by the fact that they came out second. Still, we rarely see such a competitive landscape with projects that tackle the same subject being released within months of each other. (For instance, the two Steve Jobs biopics, one with Ashton Kutcher and one with Michael Fassbender, came out two years apart.)
Now we will have a similar situation in television with two competing biopics of disgraced financier Bernie Madoff. HBO’s movie The Wizard Of Lies with Robert De Niro was the first to be put in development 4 1/2 years ago. But the ABC four-hour miniseries Madoff starring Richard Dreyfuss was the first to get a green light in February, with the HBO movie getting a production order in August. Both projects have released portraits of the leads, Dreyfuss & Blythe Danner and De Niro & Michelle Pfeiffer (as Madoff and his wife Ruth)
Now ABC’s Madoff has set a premiere date: It will have a two-night run during the February sweep, on Wednesday and Thursday, February 3 and 4. HBO has yet to schedule The Wizard Of Lies, but it is not expected to debut sooner because of extensive posproduction work and pre-launch marketing campaign. HBO likes to air original movies in May. If The Wizard Of Lies is released before end of May, we could see two Oscar winners, De Niro and Dreyfuss, contesting an Emmy award for playing the same character.