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Crunch the numbers and see through Hollywood's sequel scam

This weekend, for the first time all year, none of the new films on release have a number or a colon in the title. Embrace the change.

Tatiana Maslany and Tom Cullen in The Other Half.

Courtesy Mongrel Media.

Tatiana Maslany and Tom Cullen in The Other Half.

This weekend, for the first time all year, none of the new films on release have a number or a colon in the title. That means no sequels, prequels or reboots cluttering up screens. Hollywood hasn’t suddenly decided to change their tactic of squeezing every dime out of every tried-and-true concept in their back catalogue. Nope, it’s because after American Thanksgiving, one of the biggest movie times of the year, the studios figure everyone ate too much turkey to bother going to the movies this week.

That means we have smaller, not-ever-likely-to-be-sequelized movies like Lovesick, Antibirth and The Other Half on offer. All, depending on your taste, are worth your dollar and each ticket bought sends a message that moviegoers won’t be content with constant rehashes of stories we already know.

Recently a tentative deal to make Bad Boys 3 and 4 was announced. While the prospect of a third and fourth movie in that decades old series is about as welcome as a plantar wart, we did this to ourselves by supporting endlessly repackaged stories and ideas.

Hollywood wouldn't spend the time or effort to make photocopy quality sequels if we didn't line up to see them, so why not turn your buying power to demand better movies? Read these easy-to-follow rules for sequel avoidance:

1. Generally speaking, shun movies with numbers in the titles. This sounds straightforward, but movies like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Three Days of the Condor, 8½, and The Seven Samurai muddy the waters.

By all means go see or stream those, but when choosing a movie beware of titles containing colons (Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace), the word "part" (Friday the 13th Part 3: 3D), unless of course it's The Godfather Part II, a subtitle like "This Time It's Personal" (Sister Act: Back in the Habit), roman numerals (Superman IV: The Quest For Peace) or any combination of the above (Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan).

Other trouble spots include titles containing the words "Beginning" (Psycho IV: The Beginning), "Bride" (Bride of Chucky), "Return" (Return to the Blue Lagoon), "Vs." (Gamera vs. Jiger), "Boogaloo" (Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo) or "Revenge" (Jaws: The Revenge).

2. Worse than numbered sequels are movies which substitute a homophonous word for the number (Look Who's Talking Too, Teen Wolf Too).

3. Avoid movies that recycle ideas while simply changing the tense of the movie title. Examples? What was funny in Analyze This became less so in Analyze That and there is a reason I Still Know What You Did Last Summer sits at a 7% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

4. And finally, as a matter of principle, steer clear of any movie in which Ben Stiller plays supermodel Derek Zoolander.

Of course I'm joking, except about Zoolander. Any movie that subtitles itself with “No. 2” is really asking for it. Go see whatever you want, but keep in mind when supporting bad movies the joke is on us. It feeds the notion that audiences are as creatively bankrupt as the studios. Not so.

If you are given a steady diet of dog food, pretty soon you get a taste for Alpo, but if occasionally you have something better, soon enough you'll crave foie gras. Sequels are the dog food of the movie industry. Don't let them force feed you.