As we ring out a fairly fantastic year of movies, we will usher in the January dregs, the month in which most new movies are ignored in favor of catching up on the Oscar nominees or the awards contenders, like Zero Dark Thirty and The Promised Land that roll out to us plebes outside of NYC and Los Angeles.
It’s not a completely wasted month, however. Every year, it seems, one or two movies break through the crap and put up huge box-office numbers, often simply because it’s the best alternative to everything else, whether it be Cloverfield, Taken, The Devil Inside, or Book of Eli. Hollywood knows what works in January, and often they create movies that echo successful movies of Januarys past.
Here are the 9 wide releases we can not look forward to, ranked from least appealing to the most.
9. Texas Chainsaw 3D — There’s always a few horror films in January, and this one — the 47th variation on the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise — opens the new year on January 4th hoping to capture the same success of My Bloody Valentine 3D ($21 million opening weekend) back in 2009.
8. A Haunted House — Not officially a Scary Movie movie, one wonders if Marlon Wayans is trying to kill the buzz of his old franchise ahead of Scary Movie 5, which neither he nor Keenan Ivory Wayans seem to have anything to do with. Not so coincidentally, the Scary Movie movies haven’t been good since The Wayan brothers left; maybe A Haunted House can recapture the magic, although I’m guessing that all of the funny gags are already in the trailer.
7. Mama — Guillermo Del Toro puts his name on every other horror movie that’s released these days, but it’s not necessarily a sign of quality (see Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark). I’m not sure what to think of Mama — about a couple left to raise nieces who were left alone in the woods for five years — but it does star Jessica Chastain. My guess is that, like other January releases — The Unborn or The Devil Inside — it will put up $20 million on its opening weekend and quickly be forgotten.
6. The Last Stand — The Last Stand is this year’s attempt to revive the career of a Hollywood relic, in this case Arnold Schwarzennegar, by putting him in the position to deliver a lot of overwrought lines and kick a lot of ass. See also: Taken. I don’t think, however, that audiences are really all that jazzed about the return of Schwarzennegar, so I wouldn’t expect The Last Stand to be the break-out hit of January.
5. Parker — Another one of Jason Statham’s biannual Statham movies, Parker will probably be remembered as the Statham Movie in which he wears a cowboy hat and Jennifer Lopez walks around in her underwear. Honestly, that’s a big enough selling point for most Statham fans, but like all of his movies, this one will probably tap out at around $35 million.
4. Broken City — Mark Wahlberg found some success last year with Contraband ($24 million), so I guess he’s trying to become the Will Smith of January. This one, like Contrabad, looks like a moderately entertaining but ultimately forgettable January diversion.
3. Movie 43 — I have no idea what to think of Movie 43, which basically stars EVERBODY in what must be the largest ensemble comedy of all time. It’s basically a series of comedy vignettes featuring mostly people we love, directed by people we mostly love (and Brett Ratner). It was shot in 2010, and it’s only now arriving in theaters, but the trailer looks, well, hit and miss. Could it be this generation’s Kentucky Fried Movie?
2. Gangster Squad — Ganster Squad was moved from last fall to January because of the Dark Knight Rising shooting, but it actually has the feel of a January movie. Yes, it stars Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Josh Brolin, and Sean Penn, and it comes from Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland), but I just can’t tell from the trailer if it will be great or a great big mess. Getting bumped into January, however, is not the kiss of death. Seth Rogen’s Green Hornet got pushed back a couple of years ago, and managed to make $98 million at the box office.
1. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters — Hansel and Gretel looks ape shit stacked on top of bat shit, but that may be to its credit. The Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton re-imagined fairy tale will either be the worst movie of the year, or the best worst movie of the year, and I couldn’t tell you which from the trailers. I am, however, kind of stoked for it.