The Sixth Sense is a movie well remembered for its haunting visuals and its stunning twist. It's a horror classic. However, not everything that movie did was great, as it accidentally stomped all over a Kevin Bacon movie that came out shortly after. The Sixth Sense was released in August of 1999 and featured a kid with the psychic ability to see dead people. A month later, Bacon's Stir of Echoes was released, that featured a kid, and his father, who could also see dead people. Needless to say, the second film out of the gate was doomed from the start. According to Bacon...
Overshadowed is 100 percent an understatement. Listen, The Sixth Sense would have been a hit regardless of when Stir of Echoes came out. The Sixth Sense is a fantastic movie, there's nothing that could've happened that would've gotten in its way. We weren't The Sixth Sense, and there was the option to come out before; Stir of Echoes was well received and testing very high, and well reviewed, as far as I remember. The Sixth Sense was a phenomenon, so every step of the way we were compared to them, and it completely fucked the possibility of the movie being seen.
Kevin Bacon and director David Koepp apparently got a hold of the script for The Sixth Sense shortly after shooting had wrapped on Stir of Echoes and, realizing the similarities between the plots, they approached the studio and actually lobbied to have their release date moved up. Bacon tells Entertainment Weekly doing so wouldn't have hurt The Sixth Sense, that film was destined for success, but his little movie could have been helped by it. However, the studio didn't believe that The Sixth Sense was going to be the hit that ended up becoming. They rejected the idea of changing the date.
Kevin Bacon is clearly still frustrated by the way Stir of Echoes got screwed. It would have been one thing if nobody had seen the Sixth Sense's success coming, but Bacon and David Koepp clearly did. Bacon says that it's common for the studio to assume that they know best, it sounds like the actor tries to avoid going up against the studio for this reason, but in this case, he very much turned out to be right, and the studio was very wrong. If the studio thought they had a good reason to not make the change, Bacon still doesn't know what it was.
It was a terrible mistake on the part of the studio... It was, in my opinion, a really dumb move. The thing is, we didn't get an explanation for it... This was a rare instance where I tried to lobby for the release date... generally what you get [when you do that] is, 'Listen, kid, you don't know what you're talking about. We know what we're doing.' And this was a case of that.
The Sixth Sense went on to gross nearly $300 million at the box office, while Stir of Echoes did all of $21 million. To be fair, Echoes only had about a $12 million budget, so it probably still ended up making a bit of money, but imagine what it could have done if it hadn't had to follow the juggernaut that was The Sixth Sense.