January is a notoriously bad month for movies, it’s no secret. Bad timing with the awards season, bad weather hindering potential movie goers, and going up against the Super Bowl are all factors that lead to big film studios neglecting the month of January like a family member that they owe money to.
If you have a film with Oscar or other award aspirations, it’s the worst possible time to release it – you’re too late for the current year’s submissions, and by the time the awards roll around the next year you’ll be old news. On top of that you have the NFL playoffs every weekend, which for some reason people would rather watch then go in the five degree theater to see Paul Blart: Mall Cop next to that guy who loudly proclaims how proud he is that he doesn’t watch “sportsball.”
American Sniper changed the game with its record-breaking $90 million weekend recently, but for the most part, January is not a time when you’re film is going to a lot of money if its released during the first month of the year.
Seeing as (if you’re not that big into awards) January can be the most depressing month for film fanatics, I thought I’d take some time to track down my favorites from the past ten years that have been dumped off in the month. Keep in mind this is also actual opening, not wide releases. So films like American Sniper wouldn’t count as it technically opened in December, just in limited theaters.
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)
Opened: January 25, 2015 || Opening Gross: $19.7 million
Well aren’t we just starting off with the most high-brow film possible. There’s no hiding the fact that Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is a pretty stupid film, and Jeremy Renner is obviously just lazily killing time between Avengers appearances, but that doesn’t stop it from being a fun, well told story and one of the better “dark twist on an old fairy tale” films that Hollywood loves so much.
Gangster Squad (2013)
Opened: January 11, 2013 || Opening Gross: $17.1 million
In all honesty, I was pretty disappointed with Gangster Squad. There were so many interesting routes the film could have taken, and it took none of them. Instead, we were left with a pretty bland, yet decent enough for a January-released movie, experience. And a reason to oogle at Ryan Gosling for a couple hours.
The Company Men (2011)
Opened: January 21, 2011 || Opening Gross: $647,797
Another film that I was partially disappointed in, but still enjoyed enough for what it was. Ben Affleck was solid as usual (seriously, outside of Daredevil you have no reason to hate him so much, Internet), and its a film worth watching if you have some time to kill.
The Book of Eli (2010)
Opened: January 15, 2010 || Opening Gross: $32.8 million
The Book of Eli is the first of what I’d call must watches on this modest list. If you somehow haven’t heard of or watched Mile Kunis and Denzel Washington travelling around a post-apocalyptic desert, definitely give it a shot. Just don’t Google any spoilers.
Opened: January 8, 2010 || Opening Gross: $30.1 million
Perhaps my favorite film on this list, Daybreakers is an absolutely underrated movie and I will defend it to the death. It has an interesting twist on the vampire/human dynamic that is played out over countless other stories. Ethan Hawke is great, and it’s a superb action movie.
Opened: January 30, 2009 || Opening Gross: $24.7 million
Taken is the epitome of the type of film that gets dumped off in January, evidenced by the fact that this one, and now Taken 3, were both released in the month. Sure, it’s a punchline now, but the first Taken was not terrible by any means – it’s just not a premise that should be stretched as far as it has.
Opened: January 18, 2008 || Opening Gross: $40.1 million
Maybe only applicable if you like found-footage films, which I do, but Cloverfield is another one I’d say is a must watch, especially compared to other trainwrecks that usually come out during the month. It’s not Godzilla by any means, and it doesn’t want to be, but it’s a unique take on a familiar genre.
Grandma’s Boy (2006)
Opened: January 6, 2006 || Opening Gross: $3 million
On one hand, I completely understand why someone would dislike Grandma’s Boy, but on the other hand no. It’s great. Nothing more than a dumb, quotable, and raunchy comedy with some hints at video game culture that are more accurate than anyone will probably want to admit.
Smokin’ Aces (2008)
Opened: January 26, 2007 || Opening Gross $14.6 million
Hey, look at that, a big dumb action movie in January. This time though, it’s genuinely pretty fun. A lot of big explode-y action and fun assassins being assassins.