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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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June 21st, 2013
06:42 PM ET

Movie sequels dominate, original stories a hard sell in Hollywood

This summer's movie line-up is filled to the brim with sequels, 17 in fact - the most in a decade. Viewers can choose from second helpings of the new "Star Trek" franchise and "Monsters, Inc.", third helpings of "Iron Man", "The Hangover", and something called "Hatchet". And for those who just cannot fill up with enough Diesel, "Fast and Furious" is offering its 6th movie. Universal Studios is already planning production for "Fast and Furious 7" and "Fast and Furious 8" films.

In the creative tension between art and commerce that is Hollywood, it appears that this summer, commerce has not only won, it has destroyed art in a huge spectacle with explosions and computer generated graphics.

"The international box office has become essential to studio's finances, and around the world it's much easier to sell a movie that's already been sold before," said Grady Smith of Entertainment Weekly. "So studios are increasingly relying on sequels because it's a sure thing for a global audience."

The first six "Fast and Furious" movies made more than $2 billion worldwide, the latest has already raked in more than $500 million.

Of course, not all sequels are horrible. There was, after all, "The Godfather Part II". Playwrights of old penned sequels, everyone from Sophocles, to Euripedes, to Shakespeare.

And there is hope for some of the sequels coming out this year - including "Anchor Man 2". It has been 10 years since audiences first saw fictional anchorman Ron Burgandy. But Paramount Pictures hopes viewers will be just as charmed by him when the next installment is released this December.

Sony pictures and Marvel enterprises are looking far into the future, with "Spiderman 4" set for release May 4, 2018. "The Amazing Spiderman 2" has not even been released.

New, original material that screenwriters are surely eager to produce are a hard sell in Hollywood.

"Original stories are tough sells at the box office because not only do you have to introduce all those characters to audiences, but then you also have to say, 'This movie is good come see it.' It's a two-step process," said Smith.

Smart screenwriters will likely find little comfort in the fact that "Dumb and Dumber To" - that is indeed spelled 't-o' - has just received the green light.

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