February Movie Preview

While January is never really the best month at the box office, January 2013 was the definition of “rock bottom.” Other than Jessica Chastain vehicles Zero Dark Thirty (which was technically released in December and went nationwide in January) and Mama, last month just seemed to grace us with disappointment after disappointment. Gangster Squad and The Last Stand were the biggest letdowns of the month, and releases like Movie 43 (over 40 major movie stars and less than a $6 million opening weekend) and Texas Chainsaw 3D (dropped over 80% in its second weekend) easily provided moviegoers with the worst January in recent history. Is this a bad sign for the rest of 2013? As we turn our eyes to February, hope remains, especially since 2012 provided a box office hat-trick with hits Chronicle, Safe House, and The Vow; take a look below to find out what’s playing this month:

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February 1st

Warm Bodies – Based on Issac Marion’s popular novel of the same name, Warm Bodies stars a zombie by the name of R (Nicholas Hoult), who saves beautiful teen human Julie (Theresa Palmer) from an attack and forms a relationship with her that sets in motion a sequence of events that could transform the world. The film, as of now, is getting good buzz, mostly due to the charm brought by the actors’ performances and Jonathan Levine’s direction. With a subject as popular as zombies, fantastic marketing (appealing directly to the teenage fan base), and the fact that all the films in January have been underwhelming, I would expect this zombie rom-com to open big and start February off nicely.
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Stand Up Guys – Stand Up Guys is the story of a pair of aging con men as they try to get the old gang back together for one last job before one takes on his last project: to kill his companion. The real pull for this film is without a doubt the cast. A crime-comedy starring Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, and Alan Arkin? Color me intrigued! The film is not getting the greatest reviews from critics (or at least not the praise you think a film starring these 3 acting legends would), but with these old time stars attached, I would expect this film to gain some major buzz and have a decent opening weekend.
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Bullet to the Head – Based on a French graphic novel, Bullet to the Head follows a New Orleans hit-man and a detective as they form an alliance to bring down a common enemy. Sound original? Probably not, and Head’s organic macho man plot fits in line with all the male heavy box office bombs from January. Easily the most notable thing about this film is that its Sylvester Stallone’s first starring role in a non-ensemble action film since 2008’s Rambo. However, if Schwarzenegger’s The Last Stand showed us anything, it’s that these films starring 80s action stars are not going to be received well if they do not bring anything to the table other than mindless violence, and because of this I wouldn’t expect Stallone’s new film to break open the box office.

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February 8th

Identity Thief – From the director of Horrible Bosses, Identity Thief stars Jason Bateman as a man who discovers his identity has been stolen by someone in Florida and goes down there to find out whom. As the first comedy being released since the atrocity that was Movie 43, it’s pretty safe to say that this film has some serious shoes to fill. However, the presence of the extremely likeable Bateman and the very hilarious (and Oscar-nominated) Melissa McCarthy could easily give this film the legs it needs to not only redeem 2013 comedies but also perform well at the box office. Given the fact that Horrible Bosses was well respected in the summer of 2011 (it earned over $100 million at the box office), I’d expect Thief to perform rather similarly.
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Side Effects – From visionary director Steven Soderbergh, Side Effects follows a successful couple, Emily and Martin, whose world begins to unravel when a new drug prescribed for Emily has unforeseen side effects. With a fantastic cast of talented actors – Channing Tatum, Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catharine Zeta-Jones – and a story that looks to be full of twists and turns, Side Effects has all of the essentials to become this year’s first gripping thriller (and so far the rave reviews by critics seem to agree). The film also happens to mark Soderbergh’s final big screen movie before retirement, making it a definite must-see for Soderbergh fans and cinephiles alike. However, the lack of marketing and a premise that looks very dark in nature could turn regular moviegoers off, so I wouldn’t expect this film to open up with the huge numbers we saw in the later months of 2012.

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February 14th

Theatrical release posterEscape from Planet Earth – From first time director Cal Brunker, Escape from Planet Earth is the animated adventure of astronaut Scorch Supernova, who finds himself caught in a trap when he responds to an SOS from an infamously hazardous alien planet. Whether it’s because of horrible marketing or the fact that it’s being made by an unknown animation company, this is a film I had absolutely no idea was coming out until making this article, which I think is pretty universal. Normally, I wouldn’t expect a film like this to make any dent at the box office, but the fact that it is an animated movie could boosts its prospects more than I’m thinking.
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Safe Haven – Adapted from a Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name, Safe Haven is the story of a woman with a mysterious past landing herself in the small town of Southport, North Carolina, where she begins a bond with a widower that forces her to confront her dark past (aka. Another Nicolas Sparks romance). Although the idea of adding a dark past to a character could give it some individuality, most of the time films based on these types of books are never anything more than generic romantic dramas, and none have stayed with the general public other than The Notebook. However, Sparks movies always seem to perform decent at the box office, and with a prime Valentine’s Day release date, it looks like Haven is trying to replicate the success of last year’s The Vow and due bang up business this weekend; I would expect this to open pretty well as a result.
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Beautiful Creatures – Another film based on a popular novel, Beautiful Creatures follows the character of Ethan as he meets a new girl, Lena, and together they begin to discover dark secrets about their families and old, Southern gothic town. With a director who has plenty of experience in this field (Richard LaGravenese was screenwriter on romance Water For Elephants and fantasy adventure Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of Dawn Treader) and a cast of up-and-comers looking to showcase their talents, this could ultimately become the new popular teenage film. However, once again, lack of marketing looks to be holding the film back (unless I’m just missing all of these trailers on TV and online), so I would say expect a moderate opening.
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A Good Day to Die Hard – The fifth film in the very successful Die Hard series, A Good Day to Die Hard brings John McClane to Russia to track down his son Jack, only to find he is a CIA agent working to prevent a nuclear weapons heist, causing the two to team up against criminal forces. There is not much to say because the formula never changes for a Die Hard film: Bruce Willis will be kicking some major ass and the audience will have a fantastic time watching it happen. The only questions is: will an audience show up? January wasn’t kind to action films and Willis might be sitting in the same wheelhouse as other failed actioners of the year. However, between the hype surrounding this film and the lack of competition this weekend, I would expect this next chapter in the Die Hard franchise to open big, possibly the biggest of February.

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February 22nd

Snitch – Snitch stars Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as a father who goes undercover for the DEA in order to free his son who was set up and imprisoned. While Johnson is never a bad action star, this film seems just as generic as the next. Between the lack of fresh plot and the film being directed by a stunt coordinator, don’t expect this movie to blow you away. Although it is the only film to open this weekend, I think the plethora of films (including an action film that is most likely better than this one) from the weekend before will overshadow this film, bringing a weak end to the month.

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Overall, February seems like it is shaping up to be a step up from January (which isn’t saying much). The presence of a major action film like A Good Day to Die Hard, comedies like Warm Bodies and Identity Thief, and a YA adaptation like Beautiful Creatures should give this month the legs it needs to reach at least average box office heights. What are you guys most excited for in February? Sound off in the comments below:

Article by Nick Franco

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