Pirates of the Caribbean 4 was bad. It earned, on average, 33% from the critics – an “F”. How much worse could the fifth installment be? By our calculations, it’ll earn a 31% rating – 61% worse than the original.
We found this in our analysis of all major film series released since 1964. We broke down reviews from the critics and revenue at the box office to pin down the diminishing returns of sequels:
How Pirates’ decline compares to the average series;
In 2003 we all loved watching Elizabeth and Will sail off on the high seas. But with the fifth movie coming out in 2015, we don’t know how much longer we can take Captain Jack’s drunken puns and raccoon makeup.
It wasn’t always this bad. After the twist in the final minutes of the first film, we were all itching to see the second. And it shows: Pirates 2 earned $100 thousand dollars more than its predecessor. But were the third and fourth sequels truly necessary or are the producers just trying to milk the franchise cash cow?
The general trend points to the latter, as you can see in the table above. All in all, when the fifth movie rolls around, on average, it is 48% worse than the original.
Pirates’ fall is particularly spectacular, having already flopped harder than most series. By the time of the fourth movie, critics were already extremely displeased: On Stranger Tides earned a 33%. That’s a 58% drop from the first film, which earned a 79% from the critics (Note: we measure dip in quality by percentage change, not percentage difference – the difference between the first and fourth’s average reviews is 46%).
Next time you’re thinking about seeing that upcoming sequel, consider waiting for the DVD or until it’s out on Netflix. Because all movie producers out there should learn: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
NerdWallet averaged reviews and box-office data for 130 series, which included 475 total films. Critical reviews were collected from Rotten Tomatoes and box office revenue figures from Box Office Mojo. Box office revenue was adjusted for inflation.
Article was written by Mike Anderson a Writer for NerdWallet