Unsurprisingly, none of this past weekend’s top grossing films came close to toppling Star Wars: The Force Awakens from its lofty perch atop the box office. Evidently, the force remains strong with J.J. Abram’s latest box office demolisher, as The Force Awakens maintained its top spot with a weekend gross of $90,241,673 (down 39.5% from the previous week). Daddy’s Home remained strong in second place with $29,205,583 (only down 24.6%). Due to the film’s official wide release last week (opening in an additional 2300 theaters), Quentin Tarantino’s latest blood-soaked spectacle, The Hateful Eight’s weekend gross went up dramatically, bringing in $15,706,645 (up 240.7%). Sisters $12,760,730 (down 10.1%) and Alvin and the Chimpunks: The Road Chip $12,071,523 (down 8.2%) held firm at fourth and fifth place respectively.
Here is a look at a couple of films that open on January 8th.
The Forest (PG-13) 95 mins. — Right off the bat, The Forest peaked my attention with its blood-chilling premise; a young woman (Game of Throne’s Natalie Dormer) enters Japan’s Aokigahara forest (aka the suicide forest) in search of her missing sister. The most unsettling aspect of the film’s logline is that Aokigahara forest (located at Mount Fuji’s base) is a real location, a place where every year dozens of people go to end their lives. Unfortunately, I’m not willing to give this horror flick the benefit of the doubt. I’ve seen studios release a disproportionate number of January/February horror movie duds: White Noise, Alone in the Dark, and The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death all spring to mind. Also, it looks like spirit stalking Natalie is a grown up version of Trick ‘r Treat’s Sackboy.
The Revenant (R) 156 mins. — While the current critical consensus is clearly in The Revenant’s favor, there is a vocal group of critics labeling the film as a shining example of pretentious and overwrought filmmaking. Everyone seems to agree that the film is visually spectacular, and one has to wonder how much of the film’s current praise is due to the much talked about sacrifices made by the cast. I’ll be keeping an eye on this one as I’m curious to see how well the film holds up in a few years when its current sheen begins to dull. Right now, many critics are praising the film for not only what happens onscreen, but also the lengths director Alejandro G. Iñárritu and his lead actor, Leonardo DiCaprio, went through while attempting to realistically portray the hardships of frontier life.
The Bottom Line — Sorry to break it to you moviegoers, but we have officially hit movie season rock bottom. Movie studio execs treat January and February as the redheaded stepchildren of their annual movie slates. Studios often use these bleak winter months as a dumping ground for cinematic catastrophes; we’re talking stuff so bad that when these films see the light of day, even greedy studio-heads have crises of conscience. Perhaps no one has ever summed up the dump month’s perils better than Mike Myer’s super villain alter ego, Dr. Evil. While addressing North Korea’s hostility towards Sony for releasing The Interview, Dr. Evil had this to say,
You’re one of the most evil countries in the world and your act of war is to kill a movie? It’s easy to kill a movie. Just move it to January.
Need a bit more proof? These duds are prime examples that January and February is where once promising films go to die: Mortdecai, Jupiter Ascending, Seventh Son, Pompeii, Beautiful Creatures and I, Frankenstein. Remember, if you’re going to see only one movie this year, don’t let it happen in January or February.