2011 should be called the “Year of the Sequel.” According to figures by Box Office Mojo, 27 sequels are set to release this year. That is an all time record, previously set in 2003 with 24 sequels released that year.

I have noticed that this has been a growing trend in movies. Each year it feels like there are more and more sequels coming out. Most of these sequels seem a bit…unnecessary. For movies like Scream 4 and Rise of the Apes, it has been over a decade since their predecessors hit theaters.

Hollywood movies have been struggling to get audiences to go to theaters to watch their movies lately. In a time when the economy is bad and ticket prices are continually rising, audiences are seeking out cheaper alternatives to enjoy a movie. In November of 2010, theater attendance hit an all time low, according to Box Office Mojo. In order to boost ticket sells; Hollywood is turning to what I call the “Sequel Effect.”

Hollywood producers rely on successful sequels as a safe alternative for investing money. That mindset needs to change if Hollywood wants to get audiences truely excited about going to the movies again.

As far back as 2005, Hollywood has been criticized for its lack of originality. With the rising number of reboots and sequels, not much has changed in 2011.

What Hollywood needs are fresh ideas. They need to stop rebooting older movies and stop making half-hearted sequels of successful box office hits. Take The Hangover for instance. It was given positive reviews from 79% of critics on RottenTomatoes.com. Now that the sequel has been released, The Hangover Part II, only 35% of the critics have given it a positive review on the site.

Production companies need to seek out independent filmmakers and support their films. Each year we see a couple of break out indie films, but many other great indie films are left underexposed, mostly due to limited coverage.

I don’t blame studios for being cautious or even skeptical about investing money in unknown movies and directors, but obviously the sequel route is not a 100% successful either.

While I, as a movie enthusiast, am excited to see a few of this year’s sequels on the silver screen, it would be nice to see more original ideas to rekindle my movie going spirit.