Every year, it feels like Hollywood churns out more and more sequels, though you might be surprised to know that's not actually the case. According to Box Office Mojo, the amount of sequels to hit theaters over the past decade has fluctuated, with the highest amount (23) coming in 2003 and the lowest (10) in 2001. The years in between ranged from 19 in 2010, to 17 in 2008, to 21 in 2004 and 2007.
That all changes in 2011, though, as this year will set a new record with 27 sequels arriving in theaters. Not only that, but 2011 will host the highest amount of part fours in history: five. 'Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol,' 'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,' 'Scream 4', 'Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World,' and 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn (Part One)' are all on the way. Not content with stopping at merely two records, 2011 will also see another record broken when it comes to part fives, with, fittingly, five part fives arriving in theaters ('Fast Five', 'Final Destination 5,' 'Puss in Boots,' 'X-Men: First Class,' 'Winnie the Pooh'). Oh, and we should also tack on those two part sevens ('The Muppets,' 'Rise of the Apes'), and the one part eight ('Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2') for extra measure.
So what does it say about originality and our own movie-watching habits when 27 sequels -- almost one-fifth of all wide releases -- are released in one year? Is Hollywood seriously running out of ideas, or are they just providing more of what's proven to be popular with moviegoers in the past?
Speaking to USA Today, Brandon Gray, who wrote the sequel article for Box Office Mojo, says, "It's truly unfortunate that story is held in such little regard, when that's what sells the picture more than any other element." But is he right? When deciding on which movie to go see, are your average moviegoers really looking at story first, or are they mainly using the knowledge they already have stored inside their brains to make most of their movie-watching decisions?
For example, if they like Brad Pitt and he's in a movie, is that what ultimately sways them? If they liked the first three 'Pirates of the Caribbean' films, do they even need to look at the story of the fourth before deciding to go see it? Perhaps story should be what's selling movies, but Hollywood isn't making it any easier for that to be the case.
The good thing is that over 40 films were sold at this year's Sundance Film Festival, proving Hollywood is still willing to take risks on new voices with original content, perhaps more than ever before. It seems the trend isn't so much tied specifically to more sequels as it is to more of just plain everything.
Does the fact that 27 sequels are hitting theaters this year bother you in the slightest, or are you willing to forgive the high amount so long as there's a healthy amount of originality sprinkled throughout as well?