Here’s more of an explanation of the chart:
1. For the chart, I created 3 distinct categories of films: SEQUEL = characters/story from a previous film (sequels, prequels, remakes, franchises) ADAPTED = characters/story from a previous work (book, comic, play) ORIGINAL = new characters/story written for this film. Sure you could break the categories down further, but that becomes more difficult to read—what’s more ‘original’ a prequel or a franchise? This keeps it clear. Some movies are technically both adaptations and sequels (Harry Potter 8)—but let’s be honest, they’re sequels. If we’ve seen these characters and plot points on film before, it’s a sequel.
2. Don’t make the judgement that sequels = bad, original = good. There are great sequels (The Godfather Part 2, The Dark Knight) and there are some terrible original films (Kazam anyone?). The point of this article is that original theatrical films are becoming less and less popular. “Are movies getting worse?” That’s a different discussion.
3. Forget exceptions. This is a discussion about trends. Don’t bother bringing up that one film that bucked the trends that one year. Yes, Avatar was an original film that made a lot of money. But you’ll be ignoring the 7 other sequels and adaptations that year. Keep a broader view.
4. Why these years? Simple. I took the most recent year, 2011 and went back every 10 years as far as online databases would go. Data will be different for different years, but the broader view is not likely to change. If anyone wants to do the full 30+ year history, that would awesome…