Quick, name five sequels that are better than the original films. Hard to do, right? Sure, there are a few outliers like Aliens or The Silence of the Lambs, but by and large most sequels don’t hit as hard, and the data backs that up.
Over at the BoxOfficeQuant blog, Facebook data analyst Edmund Helmer took every sequel he could find that had a Rotten Tomatoes score and graphed those scores against the scores of the original movies. The results? Most movie sequels suck, and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was way better than Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
In the sequel map above, Helmer set the x-axis (angled down) with the Rotten Tomatoes scores of the first films and the y-axis (angled up) with the scores of the sequels (or the second film in a series). The dotted line that the crosses the map shows where the original and sequel scores are basically the same.
Helmer tilted to the map to show that almost no sequel crosses the line — few sequels equal or best the score of the first film (at least according to Rotten Tomatoes). However, there are some standouts. Both Toy Story and Toy Story 2 received perfect scores, and the aforementioned Wrath of Khan was scored nearly 50 percentage points better than the first Star Trek. In fact, Wrath of Khan improved more as a sequel than any other film.
In the super stinker category, at the far corner of the map we see that Speed II: Cruise Control followed up the classic Speed, which had a score over 90%, with a score of almost nothing (3% in fact). Caddyshack II followed up Caddyshack with 4%.
But in total, the message of the map is clear — if you’re making a sequel, good luck with the critics.
IMAGE: Paramount Pictures