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Successful films from January 2014

January is typically a slower time for studios to release films and for people to go to the movies. The holiday season has come and gone, and major film studios use the first month of the year to release films generally not expected to be major box office successes. That being said, this does not mean that every film released in January is expected to be a failure. In fact, a number of films released in January have seen success. The following films are considered financially successful films for January 2014.

"Ride Along," an action comedy starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, centers on a diminutive security guard who must prove himself worthy to his fiancée's Atlanta Police Department officer brother as the two spend a weekend on a ride-along. The film topped the box office during its three-day Martin Luther King, Jr. Day opening weekend. Within that span, the film broke the American domestic box office record in the month of January, previously held by the 2008 science fiction film "Cloverfield." Since its release, the film has turned a substantial profit for Universal Pictures, Relativity Media, Rainforest Films and Cube Vision Productions. Although "Ride Along" was not well received by critics, the film's box office performance has led to a planned sequel.

"Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit," an action thriller starring Chris Pine and based on author Tom Clancy's character of the same name, has also seen success in January, and was released on the same weekend as "Ride Along." The film focuses on a younger version of the title character Jack Ryan, who, in this film, serves as a CIA analyst working in New York and must foil a Russian terrorist plot intended to crash the American and global economy. This is the fifth installment in the "Jack Ryan" film series and the first "Jack Ryan" film since "The Sum of All Fears" in 2002; that film was also a critical and financial success, and the famous title character was played by Ben Affleck.

The January 2014 film is seen as a potential reboot to the "Jack Ryan" series. Unlike the four films preceding it, "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" is an original story and not based on any Tom Clancy novel. However, the fifth "Jack Ryan" film, directed by acclaimed director and actor Kenneth Branagh, has, like its predecessors, performed well in both the American domestic and international box offices. Since its release, the film has nearly doubled its production budget. Additionally, "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" has received positive critical reviews.

"The Nut Job," a 3D computer-animated comedy starring Will Arnett, Brendan Fraser and an ensemble cast, was released on the same weekend as the two aforementioned films. The film focuses on Surly, a selfish, thieving squirrel, his friend and fellow squirrel named Grayson and an array of different animals. As the title suggests, Surly and the other animals plan a nut store heist so they can steal enough nuts to prepare for their upcoming hibernation. The film is based on director and co-writer Peter Lepeniotis' 2005 animated short film "Surly Squirrel."

Co-produced in the United States, Canada and South Korea, the film has earned the distinction of being the most expensive animated film ever co-produced in South Korea. As a children's film, "The Nut Job" has found popularity with the younger crowd and has done well in the domestic and international box office. However, critical response of the film has been mostly negative. Despite the negative reviews of "The Nut Job," a sequel has been announced and will be released in 2016.

"Lone Survivor," a war film based on the Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson book of the same name and starring Mark Wahlberg, saw its wide release on January 10. The film focuses on four United States Navy SEALs and their failed mission, Operation Red Wings, which set out to capture Taliban leader Ahmad Shah in Afghanistan during the summer of 2005. Since its release, the film has been a major critical and box office success, nearly tripling its production budget. Director Peter Berg was also praised for his filming style. Unlike the above films, however, "Lone Survivor" has made most of its money in the United States box office.

While the months following the busy holiday season and leading into the new year are not known as a time for studios to release major blockbusters, there will always be a few January films that are successful. The movies above have boosted the typically quiet month of January. Whether more people actually go to the movies in 2014 remains to be seen.