When one looks at 2010 and considers its weak blockbuster line-up, remarkably strong indie landscape, it should come as no surprise that 2011 is going to be a goddamn deluge of tent-pole material.Not only is it an incredibly crowded year of releases in general, it will also be the most sequel-filled release year in history. Brandon Grey at Box Office Mojo has turned an analytical eye towards 2011’s sequels and discovered a number of intersting factoids, and done a fine job of breaking down where each film stands. While the record number of sequels may not exactly inspire a cardiac incident in the average chewer, what may surprise you is just how many of these sequels are deep within franchises, and aren’t just the second-go-round. For instance; there are five films being released that are the fifth of their franchise- this demonstrates a real dedication to the sequel paradigm on the studios part.

Here’s the breakdown:

First sequels:

Cars 2
Diary Of Wimpy Kid 2
Hangover 2
Happy Feet 2
Hoodwinked Too!
Johnny English Reborn
Kung Fu Panda 2
Piranha 3DD
Sherlock Holmes 2

Second Sequels:

Alvin & The Chipmunks 3
Big Momma’s House 3
Madea’s Big Happy Family Too
Paranormal Activity 3
Transformers 3

Third Sequels:

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
Pirates of the Caribbean 4
Scream 4
Spy Kids 4
Twilight: Breaking Dawn (part 1)

Fourth Sequels:

Fast Five
Final Destination 5
Puss In Boots
X-Men: First Class
Winnie The Poo (kinda)

No Fifth Sequels

Sixth Sequels (Kinda):

The Muppets
Rise of the Apes

…and then Harry Potter comes in as the big ole Seventh Sequel of the bunch.

So what does this mean? Well, nothing we don’t already know- studios love a surer-than-average thing. This is only a few films more than the last sequel peak –which was eight years ago in 2003– so there’s not an easily charted out-of-control expansion of sequels in Hollywood. The stars just aligned on a lot of these long-term behemoth franchises (Pirates, X-Men) and more nimbly sequelized series (Final Destination, Paranormal Activity) all dumping out new titles in the same year.

What I find interesting is that while long-term franchises continue to make a quick buck, there seems to be a little less blatant idea-cannibalizing going on than you’ve seen in ages past. So why The Fast & The Furious may be on its fifth entry, how many other cheap fast-car movies are flying around out there?

With all of the new franchise starters this year, I also wouldn’t be surprised to see another little boost in sequel numbers in 2013. HOPEFULLY what we’ll see is a nice little bubble of interesting independent or semi-independent films getting released as a result of this year’s big box office returns for titles like Black Swan, The King’s Speech, and True Grit. If that ends up being the case, then the old adage will be true- you vote with your ticket purchase. Don’t feel guilty for showing up to these blockbuster franchises (unless you actually think they’ll be complete shit, in which case: feel guilty for seeing them), but always make the effort to see the interesting little films that might take a bit more effort than just driving down to the closest megaplex. Expend your effort actively supporting diversity, rather than armchair bitching about Dumb Movie 8.

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