Just as I warned you during my full 2013 Winter Movie Preview, January is, annually, a virtual dead zone at the box office. Each year, January is the dumping grounds for movies not good enough for Oscar contention and qualification the month before and not cool enough for a cushy spring release when the weather is nicer. That was evident again this year. According to Box Office Mojo, the four highest grossing movies for the month of January 2013 were December 2012 holdovers. Here are the box office winners and losers for the opening month of the year that has come to pass.
BOX OFFICE WINNERS
Django Unchained-- The highest grossing movie of the month was also the one most talked about. Django Unchained, with a total of $148 million and climbing, has surpassed Inglourious Basterds as director Quentin Tarantino's highest grossing film of his career. That's the definition of an out-and-out winner. (my full review)
Zero Dark Thirty-- The second highest grossing movie of the month is stepping through its own set of controversy. The daring and excellent Kathryn Bigelow follow-up to The Hurt Locker has made a very respectable $73 million, which far exceeds The Hurt Locker's grosses a few years ago (but is behind the $100 million+ similar hit Black Hawk Down from over a decade ago). (my full review)
Les Miserables-- With a gross of $139 million and climbing, Tom Hopper's mega musical will soon become the third highest grossing musical of all-time. With a bevvy of Oscar nominations and no competition, expect that number to keep climbing. (my full review)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey-- Peter Jackson's return to Middle Earth continues to do what it was supposed to do: horde gold like a dragon in a mountain. While its final tally might fall a shade short of $300 million (and well behind each of the Lord of the Rings trilogy movies that didn't have the IMAX and 3D price boosts), the movie is still a winner. (my full review)
Mama-- The one January release that made a decent amount of noise was Jessica Chastain's horror entry. Every January, there's always one horror offering that takes off and makes money. This one passes Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D for that $51 million+ prize.
SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE
Silver Linings Playbook-- On this Examiner page, I've written for two straight months waiting for this gem of a movie to finally catch fire after slowly growing through word of mouth since before November. Finally, in January, it expanded to a full release and a wide audience finally got to see Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence do their thing. It has snuck up to a $73 million total with more time to still roll. Because it took so long, I can't call it a sure-fire winner, but it's a late bloomer. Maybe after the Oscars, we can finally call this a winner. (my full review)
A Haunted House-- Like the horror movies it makes fun of, these Wayans brothers spoofs are always inexpensive movies that easily make their money back. This movie dig at Paranormal Activity and its pretenders made a decent $32 million and change so far.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D-- This movie opened the buzz of a strong $21.7 opening weekend and, though it faded quick after that, it registered enough to not be a flop. Speaking of flops, January had plenty. See the next section.
Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters-- This past weekend's #1 movie, the action-ified fairy tale starring Gemma Arterton and Jeremy Renner, opened at just under $20 million, it's too soon to call it a hit or a loser. Let's see how it does in February at drumming up repeat business.
BOX OFFICE LOSERS
Gangster Squad-- The first flop of the month is a loser more by circumstance than by effort. Delayed from August to January for editing Aurora, Colorado-like violence, Gangster Squad suffered from the bad press and bad vibes. It couldn't live up its expectations and was a stagnant footnote for the month. (my full review)
Broken City-- A far worse flop than the star-studded Gangster Squad was Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe laying an absolute egg in Broken City. The movie will be lucky to crack $20 million in total. That's barely enough to pay both of their salaries. (my full review)
The Last Stand-- Arnold Schwarzenegger's comeback vehicle has been just as bad as Broken City, grossing just a little over $11 million so far. That's quite a few steps down from the old track record from his prime two decades ago. (my full review)
Parker-- Arnold's Expendables co-star Jason Statham keeps beating his head against the box office wall with the same movies and characters. When you play the same character every time, you get the same results. Even the presence of Jennifer Lopez didn't make a difference, as Parker made just $7 million.
Movie 43-- Finally, the flop of flops is the star-studded Movie 43. Bombing with critics (4% on Rotten Tomatoes) and with audiences (a paltry gross of just $4.8 million), this one is an early favorite for next year's Razzies already.
There you have it! Those are your box office winners and losers from January 2013. Stay tuned to this page for "The Month Ahead" handicapping the box office chances for February's movies. Happy Groundhog Day!