Did you also have the feeling that more and more of the top movies are sequels? If yes, then you were absolutely right. Starting with the turn of the millenium, Hollywood realized that sequels are cash cows and a wave of sequels flooded the market (with great success). I analyzed the number of sequels in the top 10 highest grossing films (numbers taken from Box Office Mojo, a fantastic data source for movie fans). Here’s the graph:
In the 80s there were on average about 2 sequels in the top ten each year. In the 90s this declined to only 1 sequel, there even were some years (1993, 1994, 1996 and 1998) without any sequels in the top ten. It seemed that Hollywood was turning away from making sequels. But in the 2000s the situation changed noticeably, on average 3 sequels made it into the top ten. In 2003 and 2007 half of the top ten consisted of sequels! And it seems that these peaks are becoming the standard for the 2010s. The year 2011 set a new record with 7 sequels among the top ten. And with so many high quality sequels coming up (see here: http://www.imdb.com/list/-kbo5fy-BCo), we might even see this record broken in the near future.