North Texas Daily

The harsh reality of cinema in January

The harsh reality of cinema in January

The harsh reality of cinema in January
February 04
16:34 2019

January is a notoriously bad time at the multiplex. Whether it be lazy PG-13 rated horror films, lousy animated films or embarrassing actions films, the month of January has something for everyone — if you want to be disappointed.

Just this year, January has been host to the Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway film, “Serenity” — the mystery/thriller that boasts a rousing 20 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes that is also the biggest box office bomb of both Hathaway and McConaughey’s careers. This month is also host to the new King Arthur-centric film with a twist, ‘The Kid Who Would Be King.”

Despite positive reviews — it sports a surprising 86% rating on Rotten Tomatoes — it only made $7 million in its first weekend and is already set to lose $50 million at the box office even though it has only been out for a few days. Can I get a “yikes?”

Box office bombs aren’t just the norm for January though. It also has films that have been critically panned by critics even though they have been making good money at the box office. Take for example M. Night Shyamalan’s hotly anticipated conclusion to his “Unbreakable’ trilogy, “Glass.”

It has already made a very impressive $73 million dollars at the domestic box office and has stayed atop the box office charts for two consecutive weeks even though it carries a measly 36% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

But this January is not the only year where flops are host too. The month of January is so bad, it is known as the “dump month.” It is almost a known fact that there is going to be an embarrassing amount of films that premiere in January that are going to flop badly.

Why is this the case though?

The most common reason it seems is that when studios have no faith in a movie, they dump it in January where it can be forgotten about and die by its own misery— hence the nickname “dump month.” Studios usually know when they have a dud on their hands, so they send it to the pits of January to be neglected by audience members, leaving it hanging off a cliff by all the unsold tickets it still has.

Another reason is that the bad weather steers audience members away from theaters and the financial burden of the holidays makes families think twice about spending mass amounts of money at the theaters. Another factor to this is the lack of quality in these movies that are premiering.

Believe it or not, many people still do pay attention to reviews on films and when they see a film is received very poorly OR when the trailers do not particularly enthuse them, they will simply stay away from it and save their money for a movie they know they will want to see later on.

Studios also have other things to focus on during this time: awards season. January is usually when award contenders will expand wide so studios shift their focus onto these films instead of focusing on the weaker films they know will not be received as well as the awards contenders.

Of course, there are exceptions to the “dump month.” In January 2017, another M. Night Shyamalan film, “Split,”  was released to positive reviews and very healthy box office receipts. One of the biggest exceptions to this disastrous month happened in 2009 when the Liam Neeson revenge film “Taken” opened to a very surprising $24 million opening weekend and went onto gross $226 million at the worldwide box office. 

While there are some films that surprise and go on to say they bested the harsh winds of the January box office, many films (kind of) try and go on to fail epically. Unfortunately though, failing is more of the common factor for these films.

While we made it through the trenches of January, better times are coming in the following months packed full of films ready to take your money, but entertaining you while they do it.

Featured Image: “Serenity” Courtesy Facebook.

About Author

Spencer Kain

Spencer Kain

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1 Comment

  1. Gpa Doc
    Gpa Doc February 09, 12:04

    Spencer, You’re usually very generous in your reviews. I’m glad we saved some of our hard earned $ and stayed home most of January. Let us know when it’s “safe” to open our wallets again! Gpa

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