Are You Addicted to Movie Sequels?

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Pirates of the Carribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Batman: The Dark Knight. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. What do all these blockbusters have in common? They're the four highest-grossing films of the decade -- and they're all sequels. According to the numbers, we moviegoers crave nothing more than to see familiar characters we enjoyed from a movie we've already seen. Could it be that we're.... addicted?

Last week, an NPR film critic suggested that we're all "sequel addicts": A studio "hooks" us with the first film, and then we keep coming back. Moreover, we now expect that most movies will be followed by sequels. The NPR piece suggested that this makes for less satisfying movies: "What Hollywood does is it cuts off the conclusion. So you get this rising action to a climax, you stop and then you're set up for a sequel. You keep on getting these stories that are all beginning and middle -- and you never get an end."

It's true that Hollywood is turning out sequels at an unprecedented rate, but audiences still rally around good, self-contained stories. Among the 50 highest-grossing films of the decade are five Pixar hits that have no feature-length sequels: Monsters, Inc. (2001), Finding Nemo (2003), The Incredibles (2004), Ratatouille (2007), and WALL-E (2008.) Indeed, some films are better off without sequels. Here are 10 hits from the past decade that we like just fine without a Part Two:

1. Memento (2000)

2. Moulin Rouge (2001)

3. Mulholland Drive (2001)

4. Minority Report (2002)

5. Crash (2004)

6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

7. Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

8. Brokeback Mountain (2005)

9. The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)

10. There Will Be Blood (2007)

Plus: What's the Best Movie of the Decade?

Do you ever enjoy a film so much that its lack of a sequel disappoints you? Chime in below!

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