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Pirates and 26 other sequels this year: Are Hollywood execs ruining movies?

By one count, Americans will be served a record 27 movie sequels this year: Pirates of the Caribbean, Spy Kids, Cars 2, The Hangover Part II, Happy Feet 2, Kung Fu Panda 2, etc., etc. Have Hollywood moguls gone overboard on sequels?

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Those are the second and third sequels. Gray's accounting is precise; he finds there will be the highest number of fourth sequels ever: Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol; Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides; Scream 4; Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World; and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn (Part One), with its own sequel set for 2012.

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This year includes five fifth sequels (Fast Five; Final Destination 5; Puss in Boots; X-Men: First Class; Winnie the Pooh), two seventh sequels (The Muppets; Rise of the Apes), and the eighth Harry Potter movie (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two), itself a sequel.

The idea of a sequel is harmless. One Thin Man movie is not enough, nor one Tarzan, James Bond, Star Trek, or Star Wars. There may have been an excess of zeal with Francis, the Talking Mule. Some sequels improve on their predecessors, such as Spider-Man II and The Dark Knight. Others were possibly doomed, such as Sex and the City 2, because of its inexplicable decision to send the girls on holiday to Abu Dhabi. Those are Manhattan women.

The beat goes on. As the leadership of many studios is taken from creators and assigned to marketers, nothing is harder to get financed than an original idea, or easier than a retread. The urge to repeat success can be found even in the content of modern trailers, which often seem to be about the same upbeat film. Even The Beaver, with Mel Gibson battling mental illness, is made to look like a hopeful comedy with a cute stuffed animal.

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