Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

The Sequel Map

Here’s something to while away the hours. The busy people at Box Office Quant have found time to draw up a map — more accurately a Cartesian graph — that examines the merits of a sequel relative to the original …

Thu, Jan 27, 2011, 22:13

   

Here’s something to while away the hours. The busy people at Box Office Quant have found time to draw up a map — more accurately a Cartesian graph — that examines the merits of a sequel relative to the original picture. The x coordinate is the rating of the first film on Rotten Tomatoes. The y coordinate is the rating of the follow-up. Thus any sequel lying above the line defined by x=y is better than its predecessor. It hardly needs to be said that the vast majority of films cluster in the lower reaches. Quite a few pictures do, however, land in the heavens.

I can’t much argue with the fact that Star Trek: Wrath of Khan is judged the sequel that most successfully upstages the opening salvo in its franchise. Star Trek: The Motion Picture really was a great big bore: a feeble attempt to meld 2001 with Star Wars without passing through Star Trek on the way. It’s a little more surprising to meet Mr Bean’s Holiday and Pokemon 2000 above the line, but those films were, I suppose, building on very shaky foundations. I am delighted to encounter Final Destination 2 in the upper reaches. Now, that’s a film and a half. An uproarious combination of Heath Robinson and Mousetrap (the board game, I mean), FD2 is one of the very great horror comedies.

What’s missing? Well, Bride of Frankenstein, of course. After all, the James Whale sequel (another horror comedy, interestingly) is the greatest film ¬†of all time. I guess Rotten Tomatoes ratings aren’t available for those ancient classics.