In March 2012, Sony Pictures and Millennium Films each purchased action spec scripts that were described, for better or worse, as "'Die Hard' in the White House." Released in March, Millennium's lower-profile "Olympus Has Fallen" took in $30.3 million its opening weekend en route to a domestic haul of $98.7 million. Sony waited three months to open the bigger-budget, star-powered "White House Down," which grossed $24.8 million this past weekend against tougher competition.
Did Hollywood really need two movies with nearly identical plots? Of course not, which is why TheWrap has chosen the best elements of both films to create one mega-movie. We're hoping that Kickstarter will rally behind our project, which in true Hollywood fashion, is described as "White House Down" meets "Olympus Has Fallen."
"White House Down" vs. "Olympus Has Fallen"
Rather than choose one, TheWrap thought it best to combine the two existing titles, and the White House is far better known than its fake codename "Olympus." In real life, the Secret Service refers to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. as "castle," but "Castle Has Fallen" and "Castle Down" sound like movies about chess and wouldn't appeal to our target audience.
VERDICT: "White House Has Fallen"
Fuqua did a great job and turned "Olympus Has Fallen" into a sleeper hit, no doubt. But there's also no doubt that if you're going to make an expensive action movie with lots of explosions, Emmerich will give you the most bang for your buck. Not only does Emmerich have more marketing value, but no one has a track record of D.C.-based mayhem like the director who previously attacked the White House in "Independence Day" and "2012."
VERDICT: Roland Emmerich
James Vanderbilt ("White House Down") vs. Katrin Benedikt and Creighton Rothenberger ("Olympus Has Fallen")
Unlike the North Korean terrorists who take the President hostage as leverage to force the U.S. military to withdraw from the Korean Peninsula in "Olympus Has Fallen," a villain in "White House Down" has a personal motivation to blow up the building, which makes the terrorist plot a bit more personal. Then again, who are we kidding? Neither script will win any Oscars as they repeat beats from better action movies of the past 25 years. While the "White House" script is longer (ugh, reading!) and more expensive (ugh, spending!), it gives us the chance to say "From the writer of 'Zodiac' and 'The Amazing Spider-Man.'"
VERDICT: James Vanderbilt
March 22, 2013 ("Olympus Has Fallen") vs. June 28, 2013 ("White House Down")
Little more than one year after being announced, "Olympus Has Fallen" opened against the animated movie "The Croods" and the Tina Fey comedy "Admission." It was the summer movie we couldn't wait to see, so we didn't, as there were no other options for action fans. While June 28 is a flashier date, it comes with unreasonable expectations during a very competitive summer. With "Man of Steel," "World War Z" and "Monsters University" crowding the marketplace and Disney's "Lone Ranger" riding into theaters the following week, the end of June proved to be a recipe for disaster, especially with "The Heat" star Melissa McCarthy being funny on the same weekend. Michael Bay's "Armageddon" may have out-grossed the earlier asteroid movie "Deep Impact," but history doesn't always repeat itself.
VERDICT: Open in March against weaker competition
This was, by far, the toughest decision regarding "White House Has Fallen." Tatum is a much bigger star than Butler, but it's the female audience that truly loves him, and our fake movie isn't "Magic Mike 2." The only "vow" our hero is taking is to protect the President. With that in mind, there's no denying that Butler's tortured Secret Service agent Mike Banning would wipe the floor with Tatum's Secret Service applicant John Cale, a PG-13 version of Bruce Willis' "Die Hard" hero who is three letters short of John McClane. Butler relishes every chance he gets to drop one-liners like Willis, while Tatum is forced to make the most of some embarrassing would-be catchphrases. Yes, we'd all like to Channing all over his Tatum, but objectively, Butler brought the pain in ways Tatum didn't. He's the real hero here, by a landmark rather than a landslide.
VERDICT: Gerard Butler
Another tough decision, but we're electing Foxx to the Oval Office over Eckhart, if only to reunite the stars of 2009's guilty pleasure "Law Abiding Citizen." Foxx's James Sawyer isn't the most presidential President, with his preference for Air Jordans and flying low over the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, but he's certainly likable. That's more than we can say for Eckhart's Benjamin Asher, even with his strong chin that helps give him a dignified authority fit for such a selfless leader. Plus, Foxx looks better with a gun on a poster.
VERDICT: Jamie Foxx
VICE PRESIDENT: Killed In Action
It doesn't matter whether TheWrap casts Michael Murphy ("White House Down") or Phil Austin ("Olympus Has Fallen") because if you're playing the Vice President in "White House Has Fallen," you're as good as dead. Enjoy craft services… no sequel for you!
VERDICT: Central Casting
Spoiler Alert! Jenkins does solid work in "White House Down" thanks to innocent eyes that help conceal his villainous intent. He plays the two-timer role to perfection, but this is Morgan Freeman we're talking about. We need an Oscar winner to lend this cast some gravitas and we can use his voice over the trailer. There's no real contest here.
VERDICT: Morgan Freeman
TheWrap loves strong female characters like the one Bassett plays in "Olympus Has Fallen," but Woods doesn't strut his stuff often and can do these kinds of turns in his sleep. Watching him indulge his devilish nature is the the #1 reason to watch "White House Down."
VERDICT: James Woods
Gyllenhaal plays a one-note character who is fairly useless when she's not barking into her phone. Should the President really feel safe in her hands if she lacks the good judgment to hire Channing Tatum as a Secret Service agent? Nope! McDermott, on the other hand, sold out his entire country for a payday! Now that's a guy with brass balls…
VERDICT: Dylan McDermott
Jason Clarke ("White House Down") vs. Rick Yune ("Olympus Has Fallen")
Yune sure was slick in "Olympus" but we like it when our terrorists get down and dirty themselves. Sony's "Zero Dark Thirty" star Clarke provided another physical threat for the hero and delivered a performance that was more memorable, if only for its explosive conclusion.
VERDICT: Jason Clarke
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
Unknown ("White House Down") vs. Melissa Leo ("Olympus Has Fallen")
TheWrap doesn't even know who played the Secretary of Defense in "White House Down" but it doesn't matter, because he gets killed and wasn't doing a very good job anyways, according to the trailer. Not only is Leo an Oscar winner, but she can take a licking from our villain and keep on ticking. We like that resilience.
VERDICT: Melissa Leo
VAGUELY AUTHORITATIVE MILITARY GENERAL
Lance Reddick ("White House Down") vs. Robert Forster ("Olympus Has Fallen")
A battle between two heavyweights, Reddick gets the nod over Forster, who will always be a winner in TheWrap's book. Reddick, however, burns with intensity and brings a solid fan base from his sci-fi shows "Lost" and "Fringe," as well as "The Wire." He wears that scowl well.
VERDICT: Lance Reddick
CHILD STAR: Joey King ("White House Down") vs. Finley Jacobsen ("Olympus Has Fallen")
If TheWrap had its way, we'd leave both kids home alone and order a young Macaulay Culkin hologram. Both King and Jacobsen were whiny and annoying, though if we're playing by the rules, we'll go with the young lady, who's on the rise between "The Dark Knight Rises" and "Oz the Great and Powerful." Not only is Emily Cale the only 12 year-old in America that cares about world politics, she also has her own blog/YouTube channel and doesn't back down from nasty terrorists. She deserves props for leaving an impression, even if her flag-waving routine on the White House lawn is a little too familiar for our liking.
VERDICT: Joey King
Beauvais appears briefly as Mrs. Jamie Foxx but she has nothing to do in "White House Down" besides look concerned. Judd's death at the beginning of "Olympus Has Fallen" informs the whole story and was a welcome emotional beat in a movie otherwise devoid of recognizable human emotions. Judd's gentle Southern accent makes Mrs. Asher even more First Lady-like.
VERDICT: Ashley Judd
HERO'S LOVE INTEREST: Rachelle Lefevre ("White House Down") vs. Radha Mitchell ("Olympus Has Fallen")
Our hero's love interest is only important if he's trying to rescue her, and the lead in "White House Has Fallen" will have much bigger things to worry about, so this doesn't really matter. Mitchell would get the nod anyway since she's age-appropriate for Butler and our audience already knows her from "Pitch Black" and "Man on Fire," while Rachelle Lefevre is best known from "Twilight," which makes the decision easy.
VERDICT: Radha Mitchell
RANDOM SECRET SERVICE AGENTS: Matt Craven & Jake Weber ("White House Down") vs. Cole Hauser & Tory Kittles ("Olympius Has Fallen")
The "Olympus" duo gets the nod over the "Down"-ers due to the fact that Hauser gets to deliver the title-making bad news that "Olympus has fallen." Meanwhile, Craven bumps into the Capitol Building bomber in "White House Down" and doesn't even suspect the shady janitor of being a terrorist! Where's his training? Tsk tsk…
VERDICT: Cole Hauser & Tory Kittles
HACKER: Jimmi Simpson ("White House Down") vs. Unknown ("Olympus Has Fallen)
Simpson practically stole "White House Down" as Tyler, a cocky hacker who creates plenty of problems for America. We're sure "Olympus Has Fallen" needed a hacker to break into Cerberus but we can't remember who played such a role. Thus, Simpson wins this non-competition by default, though he still has a long way to go before he unseats Clarence Gilyard Jr. from "Die Hard" as the Best Action Movie Hacker.
VERDICT: Jimmi Simpson
Comic Relief: Nicolas Wright ("White House Down") vs. Unknown ("Olympus Has Fallen")
There's no real competition here since "Olympus Has Fallen" is a deadly serious, laugh-free affair aside from a few one-liners delivered by Butler. TheWrap like its action movies to have a sense of humor, so Emmerich's movie earns points via Wright as a young White House tour guide who proves his worth by the end of the film. Plus, laughs are cheaper than explosions.
Best Random Name in End Credits: Mizinga Mwinga ("White House Down") vs. Han Soto ("Olympus Has Fallen")
Unless Soto, who recently worked with Tatum on "G.I. Joe: Retaliation," is bringing a lightsaber to the set of "White House Has Fallen," even he can't top Mwinga for best random name in the end credits. These hilariously-named people are the backbone of the movie industry, so pay attention next time as the credits scroll by.
VERDICT: Mizinga Mwinga
Random Media Cameos: Lauren Sanchez & Ben Mankiewicz ("White House Down") vs. None ("Olympus Has Fallen")
"Olympus Has Fallen" made the classic mistake of not having a gorgeous TV news anchor, so if there's a sequel, Millennium should make sure to cast one. If producers need to cast a Mankiewicz equivalent, I'll make myself available. Just kill me quickly, please!
VERDICT: This article is too long.