Infographic: The Diminishing Returns of Movie Sequels

Recently, I was contacted by Mike Anderson at Nerd Wallet. The site has cooked up a really impressive look at the natural progression, and diminishing returns, of sequels. More specifically, it looks at box office figures and critical acclaim (using Rotten Tomatoes) to determine how sequels fare. It’s a lot of fun data, and I highly recommend checking out their full findings and methodology here. There’s even a handy infographic that breaks out the average decline in both critical acclaim and box office revenue from the first film to the first sequel, second sequel, and so forth. See the infograph after the jump.

SequelsMind you, I’d never tell anyone to NOT see a movie. After all, you don’t know if a movie is good until you’ve actually seen it. Nor is this any sort of guarantee that the next sequel you see will be a bad film. There are always outliers, after all.

That said, there’s a lot of cold hard evidence here pointing to the degradation of film franchises with each passing sequel, outliers be damned. Even if you don’t trust critics or Rotten Tomatoes as a barometer (which is certainly far from perfect), it says a lot that the revenues also decrease. Basically, critics and audiences alike shun these films. It’s one hell of a caveat emptor the next time you’re staring at the theater marquee looking at anything with a number at the end of the title.


10 Comments

Filed under Movies

10 responses to “Infographic: The Diminishing Returns of Movie Sequels

  1. Interesting stuff. I had a quick scan through the list of films they used and noticed that two of the outliers are those based on a series of books – Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings – which seemed to do consistently well in terms of revenue and reviews. Perhaps there is something to be said for an established plot from an existing series when it comes to how well a sequel will do.

  2. The guy who was babysat by the sister of the guy who played Nuclear Man in Superman IV

    Another outlier is the Fast and the Furious franchise. There is nothing redeeming about this in terms of an established plot. One theory for the increased returns of each additional Fast and Furious movie is the crumbling of Western civilization that will lead to a future as seen in the movie, Idiocracy.

  3. The guy who was babysat by the sister of the guy who played Nuclear Man in Superman IV

    Another outlier that is extremely disappointing is the Matrix trilogy. Believe it or not, the sequels were more profitable than the original.

  4. The guy who was babysat by the sister of the guy who played Nuclear Man in Superman IV

    I stand partially corrected on the Matrix. Reloaded beat the original by 64% but Revolutions was about 19% under the original.

  5. Yet Hollywood continues to make ‘em! [shrugs]

  6. Nice to see this show up, they contacted me as well but I didn’t think it was quite a good fit for my site. My mind does tend to go to the outliers as well, Spider-Man 3 was the highest grossing, as was Iron Man 3. And Toy Story 3 was critically acclaimed. But nonetheless interesting stuff.

    • That’s the beauty of numbers- it’s a big picture type of deal. Think about how much worse these numbers would be if not for the outliers?

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