The movies that used recycled footage

This scene looks familiar? Oh that's because it's been used in other films...

With so many familiar plots, generic characters and identikit explosions doing the Hollywood rounds on a yearly basis, it's easy to feel like you've seen it all before.

Weirdly enough though, cinema has a habit of literally and often shamelessly recycling footage and scenes from movies that already exist. And most of the time it's camouflaged so carefully that you'd never even notice - even when they're hidden within some of the biggest blockbusters and most famous films of all time.

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He may command some of the biggest budgets in the business, but everyone's favourite director of destruction Michael Bay isn't averse at cutting corners. 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon's crazy highway chase scene was an undoubted highlight, but did you know it actually features a couple of identical shots (now with added robots) from his 2005 action film 'The Island' – a movie, fittingly enough, about cloning?

Clone wars... Transformers and The Island (Credit: Paramount/Warner Bros)

And that's not the first time, either. Now, we've never had to hire an aircraft carrier, but we can imagine they're not cheap. So it's understandable that Bay once again looted from his cinematic CV to replicate a shot from 'Pearl Harbour' of a floating navy base for an identical moment in the first 'Transformers'. Amusingly enough, the 'Transformers' shot was technically the original as CGI had to be applied to strip the carrier of its modern tech for 'Pearl Harbour's 1940s setting.

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Equally as crafty but somehow doubly as shocking, none other than cinema's fluffiest, most family-friendly of studios, Disney, have a long legacy of ripping backgrounds and animations (AKA 'rotoscoping') wholesale from their earlier works in a bid to cut expensive production costs.

Significant parts of 1973's animated children's classic 'Robin Hood' were taken from 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs', 'The Jungle Book' and 'The Aristocats' (including one amazingly identical moment in which a foxy Maid Marian does the exact same dance to the one Snow White did 36 years previously). 'The Jungle Book' also nabbed notable moments from 'The Sword n the Stone', while 'Winnie the Pooh' stole from 'The Jungle Book' in return.

Similar snakes... The Jungle Book and Robin Hood (Credit: Disney)

But it's not always saddening to see - 'Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam' is one of the most unintentionally funny and bonkers sci-fi films ever created. Its nickname 'Turkish Star Wars' says it all – the very thrifty budget led to cast and crew borrowing scenes, special effects and plot points rather liberally (and entirely illegally) from George Lucas' space opera epic.

And when the big screen's been well and truly plundered, filmmakers have no qualms about turning to TV for 'inspiration'. Equally as obvious but not quite as shamelessly brazen, naff 1988 South African sci-fi action film 'Space Mutiny' nabbed its spaceship special effects direct from the 1970s' 'Battlestar Galactica' series.

The most recent and obvious small-to-big screen swipe came courtesy of 2007’s game adaptation and action thriller, 'Hitman'. Its opening title scene, full of the titular killer having flashbacks to a childhood involving barcode-branded militant children, were identical to moments from the pilot episode of James Cameron’s dystopian TV sci-fi, 'Dark Angel', featuring – you guessed it – Jessica Alba suffering flashbacks to a childhood involving barcode-branded militant children.

Identical... Hitman and Dark Angel (Credit: 20th Century Fox)

Yet the winner of the recycled cake undoubtedly goes to a moment from 'Citizen Kane' that you really have to see to believe. Essentially the Greatest Crossover That Didn't Quite Happen, Orson Welles ended up using a background from monster sequel 'The Son of Kong' in a rear-projected picnic scene from cinematic classic 'Citizen Kane' that featured pterodactyls flying around.  This is confirmed on the Special Edition DVD.

It's not totally clear from our screengrab (see below), but you can see the pre-historic critters in flight if you watch the film. They are in the 'Everglades picnic' sequence around 90 minutes in.

Dead wingers... look closely and you can see pterodactyls in the backround (Credit: Universal)


Do you mind if films re-use footage from other movies? Have you seen any other examples? Let us know below...