The movie sequel, once an rare phenomenon, has now come to make up (along with its dread cousin the remake) the bulk of Hollywood box office receipts. Taking a quick look at the top 10 earners of 2011 so far, my groundbreaking statement is easily proven out:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt. 2 - $377m
Transformers: Dark of the Moon: - $347m
The Hangover Part II - $251m
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - $237m
Fast Five - $208m
Cars 2 - $186m
Thor - $180m
Captain America - $173m
Rise of the Planet of the Apes - $167m
Bridesmaids - $165m
Of course, sequels don't have to be the cinematic equivalent of a sucking chest wound. A handful, especially the ones everybody trots out like The Godfather, Part 2, The Empire Strikes Back and The Dark Knight, are at least as good, if not better, than their predecessors. While the majority of sequels are merely dull affairs, marking time while the studio earns some safe cash from audiences craving the comfort of narrative and character familiarity.
And then there are those installments in a franchise that threaten to destroy all that has come before, whether the original movie was a classic (The Sting II) or not all that good to begin with (Staying Alive). These are the odious sequels that can erase a generation's worth of goodwill, but because there's already been enough written about the Star Wars prequels, today we'll be discussing whether Sex and the City 2 or Highlander II is the worst (non-SW) sequel of all time.