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.
Mind 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.