February is generally a lackluster month for Hollywood at the box office. The hype for Oscar season films ends in December, nominations are cast in January and the month of February is a time for audiences to catch up on the most critically acclaimed films. This also allows audiences to take a break from the non-stop parade of emotionally heart-wrenching films they see and experience some classic popcorn fodder.
The offerings at theaters for February 2014 featured plenty of screens showing Oscar material like "American Hustle," "12 Years a Slave," "Her," "Philomena" and "Dallas Buyers Club" in addition to a crop of movies released solely for their entertainment value. Here is a list of some of the usual Hollywood offerings that draw in money for February and a couple of surprises that raked in more cash than expected.
One of the most surprising film successes of the February box office is "The LEGO Movie." (watch trailer) It is a heartwarming story of an extremely average LEGO character, voiced by Chris Pratt, who gets drafted into a league of extraordinary Lego characters to help save the world from an evil businessman. The cast also includes voices from Will Ferrell, Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Morgan Freeman and Charlie Day. The movie marks the LEGO company's first foray into feature films, and a controversial story on Fox News about how the story promotes socialism and is anti-business has helped it gain plenty of buzz.
There is never a bad time for a "blow 'em up" action movie to hit theaters, especially if it features Hollywood heavyweight Liam Neeson as a U.S. Air Marshall. This film takes place 40,000 feet in the air and provides constant action throughout its 110 minute run time. Neeson's character must find out who is killing passengers on his plane every 20 minutes until he receives $150 million into his bank account. The movie also includes Julianne Moore and a stellar cast of Hollywood's young talent to fill it out. (watch trailer)
While Hollywood may not be the most religious part of modern society, there is a huge market for films based on Biblical stories. "Son of God" (watch trailer) tries to reveal the authenticity of the historical accounts of Jesus Christ. While the critical reviews for the movie are not that great and it has been poorly compared to "The Passion of the Christ," it still gets the job done in providing a night at the movies for an audience who usually does not go for the modern Hollywood fare. With the popularity of this movie, "The Passion of the Christ" and History Channel's "The Bible," audiences should expect to see more religious films in the future.
"Lethal Weapon," "Rush Hour" and even "Die Hard" have all played off of two people of opposite races getting together to stop a criminal mastermind from getting his way. "Ride Along" (watch trailer) takes this same concept and presents it in a post-racial sense with Ice Cube playing a tough street cop and Kevin Hart playing a high school security guard trying to win his favor to marry his sister. While the movie is getting slammed by critics, audiences seem to like it and have made it one of the biggest hits of early 2014.
This film has all of the biggest names in Hollywood in it. Stars like Matt Damon, George Clooney, Bill Murray, John Goodman and Cate Blanchett should have made "The Monuments Men" (watch trailer) a major success at the box office, but less-than-stellar reviews kept audiences from seeing it. Critics panned the film as being a dull historical piece instead of featuring character development of its A-list cast. Despite the unfavorable reviews, the film still made enough money at the box office to be a top hit in the month of February.
While February may be a time for audiences to catch up on the Oscar nominations for the season, it is also a popular time for family-oriented movies and action movies that do not require as much of a critical eye as their award-season counterparts. While some Oscar winners go on to be forgotten a couple of years later, movies like "The Lego Movie" and "Frozen" will become cherished childhood memories passed down to new generations of movie fans.
Audiences may not get $300 million Michael Bay blockbusters in the month of February or serious dramas like "The Godfather" or "Goodfellas," but they do get solid stories that do not require as much emotional investment.