Random Factoid #554

2 02 2011

February could be a lot worse, but I’m wondering if I’ll bother to open my wallet for a 2011 release (thanks to the godsend that is free screenings, I have yet to pay for a movie that opens this year) any time this month.  Do studios really just want everyone to go see “The King’s Speech” and “True Grit” again, enough so that they’ll dump “The Roommate” and “Sanctum” on us?  There are few rays of mainstream hope, mainly emanating from “I Am Number Four.”

Elisabeth Rappe of Film.com shares in my lamenting:

“February is the dumping ground for bad films. If a film is originally set for a particular date — say, October 5, 2011 — and is suddenly yanked and shoved into February, it is the death knell. You know it’s not going to be worth your time or money to see, and the reason we know this is because we’ve been lured to many a lousy winter film in the past. Go back just 10 years, and you’ll see that February has boasted such great films as ‘Reindeer Games,’ ‘Snow Day,’ ‘Down to Earth,’ ‘Valentine,’ ‘Hannibal,’ ‘Rollerball,’ ‘Daredevil,’ ‘How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days,’ ‘Against the Ropes’ … the list just goes on and on into sheer dollar bin misery. The box-office returns tell a sad state of desperation. ‘Snow Day’ opened at No. 3 on February 11, 2000, and it wasn’t because it was a good film, it’s because there was nothing else to see.

The entire month is a pretty bleak slate, but the real DOA date has been distilled to the fine point of the first weekend of February. These aren’t just bad films, they’re the worst of any given year. Search them at random. February 2, 2005: ‘Unleashed.’ February 3, 2006: ‘When a Stranger Calls.’ February 1, 2008: ‘Over Her Dead Body,’ ‘Strange Wilderness,’ and ‘The Eye’. Wretched. Just wretched.

Why is poor February, who never did anything to anyone, the land of the lousy film? Why is its first weekend a cinematic graveyard? Hollywood might tell me that it’s traditionally a time of poor returns, that polling shows audiences like to see ‘Captain America’ in summertime, and that it’s too far out to risk releasing an award contender. (Not always so. ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ was released on February 14, 1991, and went on to win Best Picture. ‘Shakespeare in Love’ was a January 1999 release. It can happen.)

Considering that studios are becoming more and more desperate to milk the box-office dollar, and there are only so many weeks to the summer season, why not start using February to unload a few of your flashiest popcorn flicks? Instead of jockeying for a good July date, why not release a Harry Potter or a Transformers in February? Would audiences truly shy away from seeing a Transformers movie simply because it was released in winter? A good and bankable film doesn’t need a historic summer weekend. It just needs a screen. Considering more and more films are being made simply on name recognition — hence the lust for remakes or big comic book properties — it stands to reason that audiences would flock to Superman in February.”

I think it’s about time that studios ditched the whole “open everything big in summer” mentality.  Sleeper hits like “Taken” and “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” have shown that audiences are willing to flock to movies with good buzz in the winter, and prestige pics like “Shutter Island” can open well and have staying power with very few quality alternatives.

Quite frankly, I’m ready for 2011 to start making a name for itself.  I’m running out of 2010 movies to see again while I wait.





What To Look Forward To in … February 2011

9 01 2011

February comes, and with it the Oscars to celebrate 2010 in cinema!  Here are some movies I doubt we will be toasting this time in 2012.

February 4

“Sanctum” looks like a movie worth the price of 3D.  No stars and a somewhat enticing plot could make for a great experience.  Oh, and having James Cameron’s name in the trailer helps.

The Roommate” could make a decent chunk of change since it has teen stars Aly Michalka, Leighton Meester, Minka Kelly, and Cam Gigandet to its name.  How good or thrilling it will be really can’t be deduced from the trailer – and maybe it’s not something I want to see heading off to college next year.

Thanks to a qualifying run, Halle Berry’s “Frankie & Alice” is eligible for 2010’s awards and has so far racked up a Golden Globe nomination.  That’s been about it for the previous winner, and an Oscar nod doesn’t look likely.  But if she does get it, there could be quite a few people flocking to this curious drama about a woman with multiple personality syndrome.

Speaking of Oscar nominations, Natalie Portman is almost certain to receive one for “Black Swan,” but her movies don’t stop there.  In addition to “No Strings Attached” coming out in January, she has “The Other Woman,” a 2009 Toronto Film Festival hit, being released theatrically.  (It’s also available on demand beginning in January.)

Also not likely to be hitting a theater near you: “Cold Weather,” a detective film that played 2010 SXSW, “Dressed,” a fashion documentary, and “Waiting for Forever,” a romance featuring Rachel Bilson.

February 11

Forget the birds in Arkansas falling.  If you are looking for a sign of the apocalypse, look no further than “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” in pointless 3D (as if you needed any indication that Paramount is soaking the Bieber cow for all the money its worth).  If it does well, you may find yourself with me wishing the apocalypse would come a little sooner.

The Eagle” sure doesn’t look much better as it’s just wannabe “Gladiator” period action fading into white noise.  Poor Channing Tatum managed to lose top billing to Jamie Bell in the trailer; maybe they chose only to advertise someone with acting skills.  “Gnomeo and Juliet” could be OK; at least we haven’t seen a million talking lawn gnome movies.

Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston sure didn’t have a good 2010; his “Grown Ups” and her “The Bounty Hunter” both charted on my 10 worst of the year.  So I guess when two fading stars cross each other’s paths, nothing good can come of it?  Their collaboration on “Just Go With It” seems pretty contrived.  I’ll see it, of course, in the hopes of finding a laugh or two.  Maybe Nicole Kidman can save this, just hopefully not at the expense of her Oscar campaign.

On the indie side of things, “Cedar Rapids” sure looks promising.  A fish-out-of-water comedy involving Ed Helms’ small-town boy getting into trouble in the booming metropolis of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the movie seems like a perfect foil for Sandler’s comedy.  With John C. Reilly, Sigourney Weaver, and Rob Corddry on board, I’m really looking forward to this.

February 18

Thankfully for “Just Go With It,” there will probably be a much worse comedy released in February, and it comes dressed in drag and a fat suit.  “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son” is a sequel that no one wanted, and it quite frankly looks like something meant to go straight to DVD.

Meanwhile, “I Am Number Four” is so cryptic and based on such a strange premise that I have a hard time getting excited to see it.  I’ll have to wait for audience and critical reactions before I can seriously consider shelling out my money for it.  If it hits big, though, Alex Pettyfer could have a nice breakout 2011.

“Unknown,” a new Liam Neeson thriller, looks like something I’ve seen before.  But at the same time, it looks thrilling and entertaining.

On the indie side of the coin, there’s “I Am” for all those who like Christian movies.  The movie is about the true nature of God, something that could be quite powerful for many people of faith – as long as they can find a theater that will show the movie.

February 25

Or, who knows, “Hall Pass” could be the worst comedy of February!  An Owen Wilson/Jason Sudeikis pairing seems inspired, but when they debate whether to pick up women at Applebee’s or Olive Garden, I’m worried that it’s going to be horrifically pathetic.

The enigma that is Nicolas Cage is back with “Drive Angry” as a dude who breaks out of hell.  It’s stranger, though, than Julianne Moore’s venture back into horror with “Shelter,” a creepy sci-fi thriller with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers doing some weird stuff with his mouth.

There’s no trailer yet for “Of Gods and Men,” but it’s been a big fixture among critics groups as a pick for Best Foreign Language Film.  I’d love to see some of it, but the clips are all in French.

So, that’s February!  What are YOU looking forward to?!?  As always, take the poll and comment!