Monday, February 10, 2014

Movie Preview: February 2014

January is typically seen as a dumping ground for movies. If you look at reviews for the new movies that came out in the month, you will see that this was the case. Despite this, a few of those movies managed to attract audiences anyways and combined with some 2013 hold-overs, January 2014 ended up as the best January financially since Avatar was still dominating theaters back in 2010. Lone Survivor, technically a 2013 release, won the month. Ride Along and The Nut Job were the winners out of the official January newcomers. The other 2013 hold-overs that were key in January's success were Frozen, American Hustle, The Wolf of Wall Street, and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Looking forward to February, we are in another month where the Box Office is historically a low month. Although this February won't have the power of the hold-overs to carry it forward as those movies are dying down, the advantage it does have is a lot of interesting new titles that could make this one of the bigger February histories if enough of them break out. We're already one weekend in, but there is still plenty to talk about, so let's dive in!

February 7th - 9th- 

The weekend of January 31st to February 2nd I included in my January preview, even though it included more February days. That's why this February preview starts a bit later in the month than is typical. While the first six days of February were really quiet for movies, day seven came with a bang as The LEGO Movie blew up the Box Office for the second highest opening weekend ever in February, behind only 2004's The Passion of the Christ. Usually animated movies aiming for big success avoid the month of February. Gnomeo and Juliet hold the February animated movie record with a final total just shy of $100 million. The LEGO Movie has gone in unphased, though. Telling a full story in LEGOs has worked out quite well because of the strong branding that LEGOs have among all ages. Add to that the insanely high reviews from critic and casual movie-goer alike as the movie holds a 97 percent on RottenTomatoes and a 8.8 on IMDb. These high reviews also mean that word of mouth will be rather strong and thus The LEGO Movie will play out very well for the rest of February. The animation slate for 2014 is looking pretty good, but I'd put out an early prediction that we are looking at our winner for best animated feature in 2014 with this.

Also making a decent opening this week is The Monuments Men. Initially scheduled for the end of 2013, The Monuments Men was considered to be a major threat at the Oscars this season, which made it surprising when it rescheduled to February, one of the many months that the Academy seems to completely ignore when it comes to awards. It turned out to be a good decision, though, because with how poorly reviews have been, it wouldn't have been nominated for anything. And now it will be able to have a much better box office run than it would've in the crowded, end-of-year market. The Monuments Men is directed and written by George Clooney and is the second war-themed movie in as many months. Clooney also stars in this movie alongside Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, and Jean Dujardin.

Finally, the latest failed attempt at a successful young adult book-to-movie franchise is Vampire Academy. Ever since the major success of Harry Potter and Twilight, movie makers have worked frantically to find the next big success along those lines. The Hunger Games was a huge success in 2012, but 2013 was full of duds as Beautiful Creatures, The Host, and Mortal Instruments: City of Bones fell flat on their faces. The Vampire Academy seems like an odd mix of Twilight and Harry Potter with Vampires going to a Vampire Academy. Audiences didn't bite as Vampire Academy has opened up to less than $5 million.

February 14th - 16th-

Valentine's Day this year falls right on a Friday, which should mean decent business for the box office, especially since this Valentine's Day introduces three new romantic-themed movies for couples to choose from for their dates. Before I jump into those movies, though, I want to talk about the most controversial movie of the weekend, that being Robocop. In theory it should provide some good counter-programming to those guys who don't want to want to go see a romance movie on Valentine's Day. Also, it opens up on Wednesday the 12th, so it'll get a head start on the other three. The issue here is that Robocop is a really popular movie franchise from the late 80's and early 90's and fans of the Robocop movies have been crying blasphemy almost since the movie was announced, but especially since it landed a PG-13 rating. The original Robocop is considered one of the more violent movies ever made and thus has a very strong R-rating. And that's why the Robocop fans love it. With this remake, they feel it is a watered-down version of the movie they love. Making such a violent movie, though, limits the audience for obvious reasons, so the attempt with this remake is to appeal to a broader audience. However, the last time a Paul Verhoeven movie got a PG-13 remake, it didn't fare so well. That of course was 2012's Total Recall.

Now onto the romance movies. Out of the three of them, the one that seems to your most typical Valentine's Day chick-flick is Endless Love. The story here is nothing new. Hot guy falls in love with hot girl. After the initial falling in love takes place, some sort of drama happens that threatens to end their romance. Then for the remainder of the movie, they have to figure out how to make things work out. Hot guy in this movie is Alex Pettyfer while hot girl is Gabriella Wilde. The conflict? We go completely original with this. Forbidden love. Because of course that hasn't been done before.

Next up is About Last Night. If January taught us anything it is that actor/comedian Kevin Hart is great at drawing crowds. With Ride Along last month, Kevin Hart almost single-handedly brought that movie to the top of the box office three weeks in a row and now the movie has just crossed the $100 million mark. Now he will try his luck again, this time with a stronger R-rated romantic comedy. R-rated comedies have done well in recently in the early months. As an example, last year's Identity Thief  won the month of February, so there's a good chance that those who enjoy this type of comedy might combine with the Kevin Hart fanbase to turn this into a hit.

Finally, we have the odd romance movie that may end up being the odd one out. That is Winter's Tale. This movie combines more fantasy elements in with the romance genre. The trailer advertises a man who falls in love with a dying woman back in the past and then shows us the same man in the future with his memory seemingly wiped. The movie is based on the novel of the same title by Mark Helprin. The book is a well-reviewed book and the movie adaption has a great cast with Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe, Will Smith, and Jennifer Connelly. But whether or not it will have power to attract audiences away from the other three movies of the weekend is a different story.

February 21st - 23rd-

After introducing one action movie and three romance movies the previous weekend, the third weekend of February evens the score by adding two additional action movies. First of is the second sword-and-sandal movie of the year with Pompeii. Hollywood is full of interesting coincidences. I guess it just seemed like a good idea to do these movies this year as we had Legend of Hercules last month, Pompeii this month, and 300: Rise of an Empire next month. Adding to that will be a second Hercules movie in August. I don't know why sword-and-sandal movies are suddenly popular, but they are this year, just like end of the world movies were popular last year. In addition to that, I suppose it was just destined for us all to remember Pompeii. Not only do we have the movie Pompeii coming out, but Bastille's song Pompeii is currently riding high on the Billboard Hot 100. I half expect the song to show up in the movie, but it's not going to. Just another one of Hollywood's coincidences.

Opening with Pompeii is Kevin Costner's 3 Days to Kill. This movie kinda reminds me of taken in that it's a daddy/daughter action movie. Kevin Costner's character, a Secret Service agent, is dying and has three days to live. However, there is an experimental drug that could save his life and he can get it if he completes a certain mission. During this, he is trying to spend more time with his family and is specifically charged by his wife to watch over his daughter. Starring with Costner is Hailee Steinfeld and Amber Heard. It's been a busy time for Costner recently. After appearing in Man of Steel last year, Costner was in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit in January. After 3 Days to Kill, he will have three more movies before 2014 ends.

February 28th - March 2nd- 

The last weekend of February was going to add three more movies to the market, but with the last minute delay of Welcome to Yesterday, the weekend is now less crowded. One of the two movies that comes out brings Jesus Christ back to the big screen in Son of God. It's been 10 years since Jesus was last on the big screen with Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. In fact, that movie also opened up on the last weekend of February and buoyed off quite a bit of controversy to become the highest grossing R-rated movie ever. This version is only a PG-13 and won't carry all the controversy with it, but the process this movie has gone through is very unique and thus raises eyebrows in a different way. Last year, the History Channel aired a TV mini-series called The Bible. That became so popular that they decided to take the parts of that mini-series that go over the life of Christ and turn it into a full length movie. So essentially if you watched The Bible mini-series, you have already seen this movie. Christian audiences should turn out for this movie, especially if they never saw The Bible. The big question on this is whether or not those who already watched The Bible will turn out again for Son of God.

Finally our last movie of the month brings Liam Neeson back to the theaters for the second time in February and third time in 2014 total. Although the other two were in animated roles, so this is his first live action movie this year. The movie is Non-Stop. Neeson has had quite the decorated career as his roles range from Qui-Gon Jinn (Star Wars) to Aslan (Chronicles of Narnia) to Zeus (Clash of the Titans) to Ra'sAl Ghul (Batman Begins) and many more. Non-Stop puts him back into his action star role like he's done in movies such as Taken. Neeson in this is an air marshal who gets threatened and framed while on a plane via text message. The mysterious texter threatens to kill passengers if Neeson doesn't transfer a large sum of money into a certain account. The movie has a whodoneit type of vibe and reminds me a lot of the movie Source Code. Non-Stop won't be a huge blockbuster, but it should be able to attract a decent-sized audience.

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