January 4th - 6th - This first weekend of January will be crowded with a bunch of holdovers from December, namely three time box office champion The Hobbit as well as Christmas Day phenoms Django Unchained and Les Mis. How well those three hold will determine what happens this week and its very possible that Django ends up at the top this weekend. However, if last years first weekend of January is a sign of what will happen this weekend, the top movie will be lone new release of the weekend in Texas Chainsaw 3D. This is the 7th movie in the popular Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise but before the question is asked, this one has nothing to do with the Michael Bay produced remake in '03 or its '06 prequel. In fact it completely ignores all the other three sequels and is instead a direct sequel to the 1974 original. These Chainsaw movies are marketed as true stories, but in case there is any question on that, they are purely fiction and are rather inspired the notorious killer Ed Gein who did not live in Texas, but rather Wisconsin. I did some research on him just out of curiosity and he was one messed up idiot. He didn't actually use a chainsaw, but what he did do was dig out freshly burried middle-aged women from cemeteries and uhhh... made outfits out of them. I'll let you either use your imagination on that or go to his Wikipedia page if you want details. Anywho, his awful deeds inspired this popular movie series and this one is looking to be the scariest since the original. It was originally scheduled for an October release, but to avoid traffic there it opted for this first weekend of January where last year's The Devil Inside racked up $33M. If it hits that mark, it will earn the honor of being the highest opening Texas Chainsaw movie ever. With inflated ticket prices and its 3D incentive, that shouldn't be that difficult. Now I said Texas Chainsaw 3D is the only new release of the weekend and that is correct, but getting a nationwide expansion will be Matt Damon's Promised Land. This is one of those Oscar movies that I mentioned in my intro. It was written by and stars Matt Damon, who was originally supposed to direct it instead of star in it, but that didn't work out. This is the third time Matt Damon has done this, write a movie and star in it, the first time being his hugely successful Good Will Hunting. Promised Land was definitely made to replicate the Oscar success of that movie, but it has been getting poor reviews from critics thus far, which doesn't bode well for its goals. It also made sure to open last week in a few theaters so it could be eligible for the Oscars, but waited on its nationwide expansion until now in order to avoid a crowded Christmas. It turns out that it might get lost this week as well in its expansion, but we will see.
January 11th - 13th - This week includes a couple of highly anticipated movies, the highest being the nationwide expansion of the movie that I mentioned earlier that has a good shot at winning best picture and that is Zero Dark Thirty. It's expansion is set at a great time as the nominations for Academy Awards get announced the day before it's released with the Golden Globe winners getting announced on Sunday the 13th. Director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal both worked on 2008's Hurt Locker which went on to win 6 Oscars including Best Picture and they look to replicate that success with Zero Dark Thirty and so far they are in a good position with the critics raving about the movie as it has been in limited release for a few weeks now. It also has an intriguing storyline to it that may get the attention of many Americans in that it is a movie about the decade long hunt for terrorist Osama Bin Laden. It was originally about the unsuccessful hunt of him, but the screenplay was rewritten when he was actually captured in 2011. Anticipated movie number two on the week comes via Gangster Squad. This is the movie that had a scene in the trailer of a movie theater being shot up. It was wisely taken down when back in the summer, a movie theater was actually shot up in Colorado. The movie was postponed several months when this happened and some wondered if it was going to come out at all, but it will come out and this weekend is the date. This is a movie about the LAPD's fight to keep the East Coast Mafia type out of Los Angeles in the 1940's and 50's. If you like movies where there is gun fights for the entire movie, this is the movie for you. Finally, our third R rated movie of this weekend is A Haunted House. Is this another January horror movie? Nope. Well, not really. This is from Marlon Wayons, the creator of the Scary Movie series. And yes, this is pretty much a Scary Movie type of movie. It is poking fun at the found footage series, or more specifically is poking fun at the Paranormal Activity series, which October of 2013 will release their fifth movie in five years. Three of the four Scary movie films opened up above 40M and if Scary Movie fans turn out for this movie, this could end up stealing the weekend and being the surprise movie of the month.
January 18th - 21st - This weekend is an extended weekend due to Martin Luther King Jr Day and with no extremely solid movies coming out, Zero Dark Thirty could be in for a MLK Jr weekend win if the Oscar hype for it is solid enough. If not, audiences have to choose from two R-rated action crime dramas and it will be a battle between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mark Wahlberg. My money will be on Schwarzenegger (which I always have the hardest time spelling...) so let's discuss his movie first, The Last Stand. Schwarzenegger took a long Hollywood break, mainly due to him being the Governator of California. Since his second term ended in 2011, he has jumped back into Hollywood with Expendables 2 this past year and The Last Stand will be his first of a couple of different planned movies this year. Historically he's always been the type to draw audiences to the theater. In this movie he plays the Sheriff of a small town on the border of Mexico that is attempting to stop a drug cartel from crossing the border. The Governator's competition this weekend is Mark Wahlberg's Broken City. In addition to starring in the hugely popular Ted movie in 2012, Wahlberg first started the year off by starring in Contraband, a movie that many have forgotten about already. However, last year at this time, Contraband earned nearly $25M in its first weekend, which was a decent opening for a January movie and if Broken City can match that mark, it will probably beat Schwarzenegger. In this Wahlberg plays an ex-cop who's on a mission for the mayor to find out who is sleeping with his wife. After taking on the responsibility, he realizes that he's gotten himself into something much deeper. Wahlberg's co-stars in this movie are Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones. The one PG-13 movie of the month is the horror movie Mama. Horror movies these days are a dime a dozen and are often very generic and thus slip through the cracks most of the time and I could easily see this happening to Mama. However, in advertising it is focusing on executive producer Guillermo del Toro to give it life and avoid the usual horror movie fate. It also stars Oscar nominated actress Jessica Chastain. This could also work towards in the movie's favor as Jessica was nominated for an Oscar for the Help, but more recently just got a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in Zero Dark Thirty and by the time this movie gets released could have an Oscar nomination for that movie as well. The moral is this movie has potential to be a surprise, but could also be easily forgotten.
January 25th - 27th - The big movie of this weekend almost without question will be Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. The tagline of the movie is "Classic Tale. New Twist." Yup. Very new twist. It was going to be a part of the fairy tale kick of last year that was scheduled to include two Snow White movies, this Hansel and Gretel movie, and a Jack and the Beanstock movie. Well, the two Snow White movies both came out, but this one and the Jack and the Beanstock movie both postponed to 2013, breaking up the fairy tale party. The direction this movie is taking quite interesting. It is taking a classic, fun, kid's fairy tale and turning it into a hardcore, adult, action film. Hansel and Gretel have grown up and are getting revenge by hunting witches like the one witch that almost killed them when they were kids. It stars Jeremy Renner coming off his huge year last year with his roles in Mission Impossible 4 (end of 2011 / beginning of 2012), Avengers, and Bourne Legacy, so his presence in this movie is a pretty big boost. He plays the lead role of Hansel and his co-star is Gemma Arterton, known for her role in Prince of Persia, as Gretel. This movie is thought to be an R-rated action film although at the time of me writing this, it has not yet received a rating, which tells me that it is battling between an R and a PG-13. If it is PG-13, the January opening weekend record is in jeopardy, but if it lands the expected R, it will most likely be this years Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, a movie that was well liked by those who saw it, but too much of a crazy idea for it to get much attention. Vampire Hunter only opened up to $16M in the middle of June, so that wouldn't be a good sign for Hansel and Gretel. Moving on, the second R-rated comedy of the month, this one looking like the less intelligent of the two, in Movie 43. I don't know if I've ever seen a movie with 12 directors, but that's what this movie is doing. Elizabeth Banks, Steven Brill, Steve Car, Rusty Cundieff, James Duffy, Griffin Dunne, Peter Farrelly, Patrick Forsberg, James Gunn, Bob Odenkirk, Brett Ratner, and Jonathan van Tulleken all have directing credits. In addition to that it has half a billion big name actors/actresses in it. The list includes Hugh Jackman, Emma Stone, Elizabeth Banks, Chloe Grace Moretz, Gerard Butler, Kate Winslet, Kristen Bell, Naomi Watts, Anna Ferris, Halle Berry, Josh Duhamel, Uma Thurman, Kate Bosworth, and Patrick Warburton just to name a few. And they have all gotten together to make this plotless, unorganized movie that is crammed full with as many dirty jokes they can possibly fit into an hour and a half or two hour movie. If that's your cup of tea, then be my guest. The last movie of this month that I am previewing is Parker. If Schwarzenegger and Wahlberg disappointed you last week with their action crime thrillers, then Jason Statham will be here this week to try and satisfy you. And he has the ever so popular Jennifer Lopez as his sidekick. Now Statham has been in a lot of action movies, but he hasn't ever done good in the box office unless he has a few more action stars tagging along side with him. This is another one of his solo movies and chances are that it will got lost in the crowded R-rated movie fest of January. His last solo movie was last April's Safe and that barely even got off the ground as it had a grand total of $17M at the end of its run. I imagine Parker will follow suite.