Happy New Years, movie lovers!
December ended 2012 off with a spectacular bang, and ensured that 2013 will be just as amazing, if not more so. The problem? We start the year off with January, usually the dumping ground for the movie studios for the fodder they couldn't place anywhere else.
Aside from national expansions for possible Golden Globe and Oscar winners Hyde Park on Hudson, Promised Land, The Impossible (all 1/4), and the critically favored Zero Dark Thirty (1/11), there are some decent-looking entries, but, for the most part, it's slim pickings.
The first weekend in January is not surprisingly a quiet one with only one nationwide release. What makes it almost slumber-like is that the only nationwide release is Texas Chainsaw 3D, another attempt to reboot and profit off the slasher franchise made popular in 1974. This time, Chainsaw 3D takes place directly events of the first installment when a young woman goes to collect her inheritance after the last known living member of the Sawyer clan dies. Seeing that neither the 2003 reboot or Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning made a huge splash at the box office ($80.6 million and $39.5 million respectively) and audiences continue to flock to Les Miserables, The Hobbit, and Django Unchained, don't expect this installment to make a killing.
Reuben Fleisher's (Zombieland) period action drama revolving around the war between the LAPD and Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) and his goons was pushed back from the latter part of 2012 due to the tragic Aurora, CO movie theater shootings, and had several extensive reshoots, changing the ending of the movie that was highly publicized by early trailers of the film. With the change of ending and new release date, it's hard to say that Gangster Squad will succeed or not, especially since schedule shifts this severe often cause the film will fail. However, with Warner Bros' aggressive marketing for the film, and HBO's Boardwalk Empire shedding more popularity on the Squad's time period (not to mention no truly solid competition), its new January spot could work like gangbusters.
Let's face it: parody movies haven't been doing so well, and parody movies made by the Wayans Brothers have been true failures. While 2010's Vampires Suck managed $36.7 million, capitalizing on parodying the Twilight franchise, the Wayans' last film, 2009's Dance Flick, completely bombed with $25.7 million. A Haunted House, the Wayans' latest attempt at regaining their popularity created by the first two Scary Movie installments, is a return to horror parodies. However, seeing the quality in horror films has dropped in the past few years (Sinister, for instance, which Haunted House's poster pokes at), it usually makes for an abysmal parody show, so this already has a lot working against it.
The last two weekends in January are quite packed, which is fairly unusual seeing that the month isn't very profitable for the most part. With that being said, several of the movies have a fair chance at success.
Police/political thrillers don't fare very these days. However, most don't have a cast this incredible. Mark Wahlberg, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Russell Crowe headline this scandalous thriller, while Allen Hughes (From Hell) directs the film. Wahlberg and Crowe have been making big business lately on their own, so it's well within reason they can make this film profitable together.
Arnold "The Governator" Schwarzenegger is headlining movies again now that is political career is at an end. The Last Stand marks Arnie's first starring role in a film since 2003's Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, where he plays a small-town sheriff trying to stop a band of thieves from crossing the Mexican border. Expect a lot of shoot-em-up action and explosions, but not a lot of substance. Granted, if you're looking for substance in a Schwarzenegger movie, you're clearly barking up the wrong tree.
Horror films in January have found modest success over the years, and Mama, featuring Jessica Chastain and touting a "Guillermo del Toro Presents..." headline seems to give the film a decent head start. However, Mama is a Spanish-English horror film, and those don't hold up very well. And given that the director Andres Muschietti isn't exactly a big name on our shores, it's safe to say this won't be the top pick this crowded weekend.
What looks like a slightly more comedic version of Van Helsing, Hansel and Gretel could very well be a surprise hit this January. With Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton playing the fairy tale brother and sister all grown up with an impressive array of arsenal, and an IMAX 3D release (something very rare for a film in January), this Will Ferrell-produced action comedy could become a Taken-like hit.
One of the most unique and ambitious movies this year, Movie 43 sees 12 directors and eight screenwriters collaborate to make one movie made up of intertwining short segments. With a massive cast of over 20 big Hollywood names, like Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Gerard Butler, Richard Gere, Elizabeth Banks, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and Chloe Grace Moretz, and one of the most outrageous trailers I've ever seen, January could be the perfect time to unleash something like this where other mainstream films would obscure it.
Jason Statham has been a fairly profitable actor in Hollywood, so Parker seems like a decent possibility for profit. However, Statham is co-starring in the film with Jennifer Lopez, who has been box office poison, not having a solid hit since Monster-In-Law in 2005. And with Statham's last two starring films, Safe and Killer Elite, both failing to wrack up grosses as quickly as corpses, perhaps expecting this film to perform against such still competition is a bit presumptuous.