This is by far my favorite writing prompt. In Hollywood, many movie deals are made from a simple comparison of two successful films. The banter for these pitches go something like this, “This is Driving Miss Daisy meets Silence of the Lambs.”
For the best results use stories that have clearly different plots and settings. Then find a way to put them together in a way that blends the key elements from both stories, but in a way that gives you a finished product that is unique. As difficult as that may sound keep in mind there is a lot to work with in these stories: plot, theme, character, setting, mood, conflict, etc. There exist an endless number of possibilities that can be generated from any pairing.
In my mind, the best thing about this sort of prompt is how it lends itself to creating cross-genre tales that stand out from the excessive clones and retellings of previously successful stories.
Here are two Oscar winning movies.
Ben Hur (1959)
Based on a blend of these two films I generated the following elevator pitch.
Sea of Fire – After encountering a powerful religious leader, a fisherman and his family are converted to a faith that preaches peace and tolerance that are at odds with the vicious laws and violent nature of the country in which they live. A long time personal rival uses his position as a judge to falsely accuse the family of treason and they are forced to work as slaves during a barbaric race across the ocean. If they win they will be set free to colonize the newly discovered land. If not, they will remain as slaves or die in one of the many sea-battles that are a normal part of the race.
Since I had so much fun with the first one I decided to combine these two films.
I’m Spartacus – Cross Gladiator with Chicago and you get a musical set in the violent, bloodthirsty height of the Roman Empire. Sing along with the cast through rousing numbers such as No, No, I’m Spartacus and When In Rome – Kill the Romans. Follow Spartacus and his band of gladiators as they break out of the Roman prison and fight their way to Broadway where they realize their unspoken dreams and tell the story of their lives on stage.