Consensus seems to favor the horror movie in January of 2013, as four of the five top-grossing releases could be considered part of the scary movie niche. From the tongue-in-cheek scares of "A Haunted House" to the otherworldly creep-factor of "Mama," these movies bring thrills, chills, and screams. As a mob movie, "Gangster Squad" almost seems out of place in the listing, but it does secure the second spot when it comes to revenue.
Fifth on the list is "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters," which made over $19.5 million in its first weekend and grossed almost $25 million in the month of January. This film answers the question of what happened to Hansel and Gretel after that unfortunate day in the candy cottage. Apparently, the two develop a variety of witch-hunting skills and romp across the world slaying fiends. Faced with a new type of evil in the film, the siblings also begin to unravel secrets about their past. The movie is an action-packed display of visual effects that plays well to audiences of all ages. It is also possible that Jeremy Renner, who plays Hansel, is bringing in some of the fans due to breakout roles in previous films like "The Bourne Legacy" and "The Avengers."
Next on January's top five list is "Texas Chainsaw 3D." The latest installment in the iconic horror franchise earned over $21.5 million during its first weekend and just over $34 million in the month of January. The majority of the film takes place after the events in the original movie. The terrorized townspeople of Newt have burned down the Sawyer house and killed the family. Only a baby remains, and she is adopted in secret and raised as Heather Miller. When Miller finds out she is adopted and has inherited land, she begins to uncover the secret terrors of her past. In classic horror style, the film features a cast devoid of big names, but the chainsaw massacre premise successfully drew millions of viewers on its own.
In the style of the popular "Scary Movie" franchise, "A Haunted House" presents a comedy-laden portrayal of modern horror flicks. The movie only made $18 million on opening weekend but went on to redeem itself during the rest of the month to bring the total to $36 million. "A Haunted House" stars Marlon Wayans, who was also one of the writers. He plays Malcolm, a man who is desperate to keep his sex life active after his love interest is possessed by a demon. The resulting escapades include help from ghost hunters, exorcists, and psychics. The hilarious film features numerous appearances by famous artists such as Cedric the Entertainer.
Turning away from the horror niche, the second-highest grossing film of January is "Gangster Squad." The film earned almost $41 million during January 2013, despite relatively lackluster earnings of $17 million on opening weekend. "Gangster Squad," which features stars like Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, and Josh Brolin, tells the story of a group of police officers in 1949 Los Angeles. The group works secretly to capture mob boss Mickey Cohen. Penn turns in a stellar and grim performance as the villain, and the rest of the cast does a good job evoking the time period. The movie is based on real events, although it does take on a pulp-fiction tone.
The top grossing release of January is "Mama," which raked in over $28 million on opening weekend and earned a total of $50.9 million in the remaining two weeks of the month. The film stars Jessica Chastain, who has had recent success in movies like "The Help" and "Zero Dark Thirty." Other notable cast members include Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and the young Megan Charpentier. "Mama" is about two young girls who are discovered living alone in the woods years after their parents are killed. Their uncle and his wife attempt to adopt and care for the girls, who have special needs due to having grown up alone in a cabin. It is quickly apparent, however, that the girls may not have been alone. They refer to a presence known as "Mama" who has cared for them over the years and is apparently still with them. As adults in the film struggle to learn more about who Mama is, things take a violent turn for the girl's adult guardians. The film's creepy narrative and eerie cinematography drew millions and will probably make this a popular DVD purchase in the months to come.
Other movies that opened in January and earned over a million dollars for the month include "Broken City," "The Last Stand," "Parker," "Movie 43," and "Quartet." January is notorious for subpar releases, because studios tend to time their biggest guns for a pre-Christmas release. Movies released during January were also competing with major hits from December, including "Lincoln" and "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey."