Last updateWed, 04 Dec 2019 3pm


Box Office Blizzard

Why January is a Historically Bad Movie Month

Bad January Movies 1We’re in the midst of award season. The year’s best films are being honored and paraded around Hollywood ramping up for the Academy Awards later this month.

It’s a huge time for movies; it should—in theory—give audience members the chance to flock to the theaters to see a new slate of films to start the new year.

The month of January has proven to be a tumultuous time for moviegoers everywhere.

With all the hype surrounding the Oscars and other award shows, it would seem like an ideal time for studios to push some of their better stuff to January.

Consistently, the films that are released in January are duds, not just normal duds, but gigantic duds.

January has just passed us over, and looking up and down the release calendar you really need to squint hard to find a good movie.

Replicas, which starred Keanu Reeves, received terrible reviews along with only grossing a mere $4 million.

However, M. Night Shyamalan’s superhero drama Glass was the highest grossing film at the box office for the month, but received lukewarm to negative reviews.

When your top movie of the month isn’t an overwhelming hit, it’s going to be a tough order to get people to come to the movies.

On the other side of the spectrum, the well-received movies did poorly as well. According to Variety, the family adventure film The Kid Who Would Be King is projected to lose $50 million, which is a massive flop.

Bad January Movies 2The issue here is that the film had favorable reviews from critics, but the curse of January hurt its box office performance.

Perhaps it was a problem with advertising or lacking a broad commercial appeal, but this tends to happen when flicks are put out in January.

It’s not just this year either; historically the month of January tends to be dead last in box office numbers over the course of a year.

Usually January pulls in anywhere between $350 to $450 million dollars at the box office, while other months gross upwards of $1 billion.

The last time January wasn’t ranked last at the box office was 2009, and the number one movie from that year was none other than the cinematic masterpiece Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

It could be coincidental or just random as to why studios don’t release popular films in the month of January, but there are some theories that suggest that it is done so by design.

The big movie studios need to release their best films in a way that guarantees the highest possible amount of people see them, so a lot of preparation goes into releasing them.

A lot of the big, shiny, expensive, blockbuster movies tend to be released during the holidays so that they can assure people have free time and can go to the theaters. Seeing December as a prime part of the year where people celebrate various holidays, it would make sense to roll them out then.

Danny Rey, an employee at Bowtie Cinemas in Wayne, NJ, agreed with this when he said, “The busiest time for us is definitely during December because that’s when the best movies come out. After that it just dies down honestly until the summer.”

Rey further talked about how the theater couldn’t really do anything to promote the new releases because they cycle through new movies every two weeks and the ones they get in January aren’t nearly as popular to a wide audience.

Once people get out to the movies in December, it could lead to a bit of fatigue for wanting to go back in January.

Unless you’re a movie buff, constantly going to the theater, it could get expensive and would explain why there is a downtick in the month of January.

The ability to stream movies from apps like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon are another barrier for the theaters.

While, the films this past month had lackluster showing in both the box office and public conversation, the two biggest releases where on streaming platforms.

The Fyre Festival documentaries dominated the conversation amongst the public and were both released on streaming platforms.

Even during the month in which we will crown a best picture winner, it’s still difficult to attract an audience for January films.

Streaming seems to have an upper hand in controlling the public’s interest and might see this January problem as an advantage to their platforms.

There may not be a definitive answer as to why bottom tier movies lay dead in the wasteland that is the month of January, but coming out of the holiday season there is an excuse to have a bit of a hangover.



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