January is the worst time of the year for movies. The ones that come out just aren’t that good. It is almost like a universal truth. Many times studios just slot movies in January because they are ready to cut their losses. For them if a movie is a hit and sells well in January, they’ll be happy, but they also are fine with it going to pasture. This January the biggest film released was Ride Along with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube which had a lukewarm critical reception. Many of the other films released throughout January went by with a blip including I,Frankenstein, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, and Paranormal Activity 4: The Marked Ones. All three were lukewarm to poor movies. At this point, a January release date is the equivalent of a TV show being moved to a Friday night death slot.
Let me clear things up, not all January releases are bad movies. Some January releases just aren’t meant to do anything but bring in quiet money. Lone Survivor is an example of that. There is no way that movie would have been a blockbuster, but it did clean up well in January without causing much of a splash. There was hardly any promotion as studios focused on promoting some of the January releases with a high budget they hoped to make back,
February is pretty much just as bad, but for whatever reason usually has one or two movies that come out. It is as though they are trying to pull out of the drought of movies by releasing a couple of good movies. It makes those few movies like beacons drawing in a crowd. Robocop is rearing up to be one of those beacon movies. Whether the movie ends up being good or not, people will go out for nostalgia and it looks like a bigger budget movie. With nothing else in the theatres these beacon movies stand a good chance of making money, provided they don’t look terrible.
It isn’t until March that we start to see more movies that are of a higher quality that studios have more faith in. Even still, in March, there are hints of the coming season of blockbusters. We start to get some larger movies, movies that the studios are actually expecting to do well. This are films that have more hope in the eyes of the studio so get better placement.
Studios are willing to release their less ambitious projects early in the year because they are willing to wait for the blockbusters later in the year. For many studios, like any other business, it comes down to the bottom line. With the entertainment business every move and venture is a calculated risk. If the calculations were right, things will pan out well, but there’s always the chance that things won’t go well. Last year’s Lone Ranger was a great example of that. The studio figured with a revival of Lone Ranger and the profitable Johnny Depp attached things would go well. Worst case, they would break even with international. They did manage it, but only just. Low to no returns on big budget projects happen more frequently now, but they are still a drain to the studio. Which means, a lower budget project, that definitely won’t be a blockbuster, but may not be all that great to get better placing are relegated to January and February.
What is the best movie you’ve seen that was released in January.