We live in a sequel-dominated movie world. Take a look at last year's box office leaderboard (domestic only) -- 12 of the top 20 highest-grossing films were sequels or part of established franchises (think movies like "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" or "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them"). Sequels have often proven to be cash cows for production studios, but are they ever any good?
Unfortunately, the answer to that question is usually no. From a business perspective, making a sequel is a relatively wise gamble. As the late, great film critic Roger Ebert once wrote, "No movie executive has ever been fired for greenlighting a sequel." Ebert went on to decry sequels for their "lack of imagination and originality," and this critique gets at the heart of why a great many sequels are panned by critics and fans alike, regardless of how much money they make.
There are some, though, that are able to rise above the stereotype and reach a respectable level of critical and commercial success. PrettyFamous, an entertainment data site by Graphiq, ranked the best movie sequels of all time. To find these diamonds in the rough, PrettyFamous looked at all movie sequels that had at least 10,000 IMDb votes. The data experts then ranked each of these films by Smart Rating -- a score out of 100 that takes into account a movie's IMDb rating, Rotten Tomatoes' Tomatometer and Audience Score, Gracenote rating, Metacritic Metascore and the inflation-adjusted U.S. box office gross. Note that sequels are any movie that build upon the first installment -- they do not necessarily have to be the second film.
Some of the greatest films of all time were sequels, including two that won the Academy Award for best picture: "The Godfather Part II" (1974) and "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (2003). Both films landed in the top 10 of PrettyFamous' ranking, though neither claimed the top spot. Plenty of poorly-conceived movies have given sequels a bad name, but this group enjoyed enough success that fans shouldn't immediately groan the next time a sequel is announced for one of their favorite movies.
Note: Movie descriptions are sourced (with minor edits) from Gracenote. Ties are broken by the number of IMDb votes.