The 2012 Film Release Calendar (January & February)

I love doing this.

Last year, when the blog was in its infancy, I was looking for stuff to talk about. And I decided (for my benefit and yours. Mostly mine. Because I’m awesome) to preview all of the films coming out for the year. Mostly so I knew what to expect. And then I figured, “Well, I have a blog now, so let’s make it interactive.” And it became, previewing them and guessing what I’d think of them so I can see if I was right or wrong (which, if I was right would again point out how awesome I am), and also letting everyone brace themselves for how creatively bankrupt Hollywood has become. And I enjoyed it. So, I’m doing it again.

This time, however, I’m more prepared. Last year — I didn’t know what the hell I was doing at all. Or rather, it was exactly how all things with me go. I do it at first because I think it’ll be fun, and then I get more serious about it, and then it becomes something I have to do to completion. So, last year, I was literally writing the articles day of, on the fly, whereas now, I’ve pretty much written everything up until March (and by the time this goes up, there’s a decent chance I might be covered until May). I’m such a boss.

Last year, after going through what was scheduled on the Wikipedia year in film article (this year’s is 2012 in Film, and is my go-to for finding out release dates), I compiled a list of the “Rest of 2011,” which I limited to only 30 films. That was a supremely stupid idea. I missed so much stuff. I blame inexperience.

This year, I won’t be making that same mistake. I’ve searched literally almost everything that’s scheduled that I could find out about and started from there. I took off anything that hasn’t been filmed yet, is not currently filming, or films that I know for a fact will only be released in 5 theaters and I won’t see. Trust me, you won’t miss them. There are lots of films I caught this time. Of course, there will always be stuff that’s gonna be missed, like The Artist. Stuff that gets buzz from Cannes and mid-year festivals. But for now, I think I have a pretty good handle on stuff that’s coming out. I’ll be really curious to see how many films I miss. It won’t be many, I’d guess.

But that’s all bye the bye. For the next six articles, we’ll be dealing with stuff that’s already scheduled (or definitely will be). At the bottom of each month (because I’m curious), I’m going to see how this year’s crop of films fits into my “How to Read a Hollywood Release” set of articles. I’m curious to know if the rubric I set out is still functional (or what needs to be updated or reworded — after all, a ste of rules based on trends changes as the trends change), and if it’s at all accurate in gauging films (since I haven’t read the articles since I wrote them). I’ll also take a quick gander at Box Office, just to see if I can also accurately gauge what films will make/what will win the weekends from almost a year out. (Plus, all of this ties into my other interest, which is seeing if Hollywood is headed for disaster/radical change.)

It’s just like last year. I’ve done enough of these to where it’ll be self-explanatory. The only change from last year to this year is — I’m doing half-stars now. On the one hand, it makes me more likely to be off on things, by a half-star or whatever, but on the other hand, it’s more specific. We’ll see what happens.

That said, let’s take a look at January and February, 2012:

(One thing to mention, as I don’t want people to miss out on things — Easter eggs. That’s all I’m gonna say.)

January

The Devil Inside

Oh boy, oh boy, another exorcism film.

I remember when these got dumped in September and at the end of the summer, like The Last Exorcism. But I guess The Rite makes these go to January now. (Also, if we’re following the “How to Read a Hollywood Release” guidelines — and since I wrote it, we are — this should mean the cycle of these films is almost over.)

This film is about:

“In Italy, a woman becomes involved in a series of unauthorized exorcisms during her mission to discover what happened to her mother, who allegedly murdered three people during her own exorcism.”

It stars a bunch of unknowns, and it looks like I won’t give a shit about this whatsoever.

I’d give it a rating, but I know I’m not gonna see this at all. But if I do see it, I guarantee you I’ll give it 2 stars. But I’m not gonna see it.

Contraband

Mark Wahlberg loves these shitty action movies, doesn’t he?

He plays a thief gone straight whose brother-in-law fucks up a job for a mob boss, so now he has to go back into business — contraband running. So this is basically Gone in 60 Grams. And most of the film is Wahlberg navigating through the underworld to complete the job before his wife and kids get killed.

This seems generic. The January release date tells me this won’t be particularly great. I’m gonna say 2.5 stars. If it’s really generic, 2 stars. If it’s watchable, 3 stars. My guess is it’s more likely to be 3 stars than 2. Still —

2.5 stars.

I’d be more optimistic about it if they weren’t releasing it the same time they released Max Payne. Not sure why they want me to mentally compare the two.

Joyful Noise

Well, you know who’s starring in it. I bet you can guess what it’s about too. In fact, I’m going to do so, synopsis unseen:

It takes place in the South. Dolly Parton’s presence guarantees it takes place below the Mason-Dixon line. Plus the white and black thing — totally in the South. And it’s gonna be about Gospel choirs. That’s why Latifah is there. It’s gonna be like The Fighting Temptations. They’re gonna fight to save the church through singing. Latifah is a sassy black single mother and Parton is the good southern matriarch who works with her. There is a subplot with two of the young choir members finding romance, and a minor racism subplot, just to remind you that shit still happens, and this is a movie you’ve seen dozens of times before.

Let’s see how close I was:

After the untimely death of a small-town choir director in Georgia, Vi Rose Hill, a no-nonsense mother of two teens (Latifah) takes control of the choir, although the director’s widow G.G. Sparrow (Parton) believes she should have been given the position. Budget problems threaten to close down the choir. Ultimately, the two women overcome their differences and steer the choir toward a slot in the annual national “Joyful Noise” choir competition. Meanwhile, a romance between Vi’s daughter Olivia (Palmer) and Sparrow’s grandson Randy (Jordan) ensues.

Wow, who couldn’t have guessed that?

2 stars. Like I’d ever watch this. I know it won’t be Unforgivable, and I know I’ll hate it. So I’ll never watch it. When you can correctly guess the entire plot of a film from just the poster, and know you’ll hate it without even a moment’s hesitation — you don’t need to see the film. I’ll probably never see this. (Then again, watch me end up seeing it and hating it. I know me. It’s a possibility.)

Haywire

This was on my Rest of 2011 article. It makes sense that they bumped this to 2012. Now it doesn’t have to compete with Contagion, and it’s clearly going to out-class almost all of the January films. This is a perfect release date for this film. (It still won’t make money regardless, because that’s how America works, but it’s still a perfect release date.)

The film stars Gina Carano (the MMA fighter) as a covert operative who is betrayed on a mission and then she basically goes and fucks up all the people that did it to her. Simple, effective, sounds badass.

The cast is amazing. Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas, Bill Paxton, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum, Michael Angarano and Matthieu Kassovitz. Know what that says to me? It’s one of those films where people get clipped quickly. They pop in, one or two scenes — then, boom, dead. I know Fassbender has a fight scene with her. I remember seeing a clip of it. I love these types of movies, because famous people come in, get a big scene, then get killed. Soderbergh sort of did that with Contagion.

I’m excited for this. My guess is 3.5. stars. I’m not gonna presume 4 stars, just because I’m not entirely positive it’ll happen. And 3 stars just feels too flat for a film like this, with a cast like this. So I’ll say 3.5. That feels right. I hope it’s awesome, though.

Red Tails

I heard about this one for a long time. At first they said Lucas was gonna direct it. But knowing him, that was never gonna happen. Still, I was excited for this — until I saw the trailer. Let’s just say it didn’t inspire too much confidence. Nor does this release date. Though I remain hopeful.

The film is about the Tuskegee airmen. They’re black, white people don’t like them, but they become great pilots and go in to fly in the war. And they end up being braver than everyone else. Great story.

My big worry about this film is that it’s being dumped released in January. Maybe it’s a money thing, them trying to make more for it, or maybe they think no one will see a war movie about black people. (Don’t give me that black history month bullshit. Black people are not more likely to go see a film in February just because it’s black history month. Though, is that why Hollywood does that? Is that why Tyler Perry movies go in February? Fuck, man, this town is racist.) Either way — I have reservations. About it. Not for it.

I’m gonna say 3 stars. This story is too interesting to not be at least 3 stars. There’s a possibility it drops to 2.5, and a decent shot at it being 3.5 (not to mention an outside chance at 4, but I’m not gonna hold my breath), but I’m still gonna say 3 stars and let the film show me why it’s being released in January. I’d like to be wrong here, though. I could use a good war film. (One that’s not about the Middle East.)

Underworld: Awakening

Gonna be honest with you — I haven’t seen any film in this franchise.

It’s not that surprising. I don’t do these types of films. Sci-fi action, sci-fi anything, really. They’re just not my thing.

All I know about it is that it’s about vampires vs. werewolves, and Kate Beckinsale basically does a Milla Jovovich thing. (And by that I mean, she’s married to the main director of the franchise.)

This one is about Kate Beckinsale (who apparently was imprisoned, I’m assuming from the last one) escaping and realizing that humans have discovered the vampires and werewolves and are now trying to kill them all. So now, the people who were fighting for the last three movies have to band together.

Not that I’ll ever see this, but I have to assume I’d find this to be a 2 star movie. But I’ll never see this, so it’s irrelevant. I’d have to watch the first three before seeing this, and that’s not gonna happen.

Coriolanus

I’m actually pretty interested in this. For some reason, I’m not a fan of Shakespeare films, but this one, I’m intrigued by.

Fiennes directed this, off a script by John Logan, of all people, who is a really solid writer. And it’s him, Butler, Jessica Chastain, Brian Cox and Vanessa Redgrave. And it’s about “a banished hero of Rome (who) allies with a sworn enemy to take his revenge on the city.”

I’ll bite. Technically it’s a 2011 film in 2012, in that, they made it for 2011, and it hit some film festivals, but it’s not gonna get its release until 2012. Not that it matters.

3.5 stars. Maybe 3. I’ll go 3.5, though. I think this can be good.

The Grey

I love how January has become the go-go month for the “Liam Neeson beating the shit out of people” film.

This one features Liam Neeson beating the shit out of some wolves.

A bunch of guys get stranded in Alaska, and the wolves start to circle. The men have to fight off the wolves in order to survive. Simple, effective.

But what will I think of it? My guess is either this is a 2.5 star or a 3 star movie. I’m not sure which. Let’s go with 3 stars. It’s gonna be one or the other, though, I think. This film really needs to wow me to be 3.5, and I know that won’t happen, and I don’t think it’ll be bad enough to get a 2. So it’s either 2.5 or 3. I mean, come on — he beats the shit out of wolves.

Man on a Ledge

I’m actually kind of intrigued by this. I saw the trailer, and normally with something like this (nowadays) I’d think it would be shitty. But for some reason (maybe it was just my mindset that day), it reminded me of one of those 90s thrillers. And that made me think this would be okay.

Basically, Sam Worthington stands on the ledge of a tall building, saying he’s gonna kill himself. And as the crisis teams converge, he stands up there as a stall tactic while his brother commits a major diamond heist. And there’s a lot of other shit going on with mob bosses and stuff. My guess is there will be a lot of twists and turns. Whether those twists and turns will be good is up for debate.

Elizabeth Banks is in this, and so is Ed Harris. And Kyra Sedgwick and Ed Burns. And Anthony Mackie. That’s a pretty good cast. Rarely do films with enough interesting people turn out bad bad. They might not be particularly good, but rarely are they bad. Especially when they’re in certain genres. This could be contrived as hell, but it’s gonna have to do a lot to not be at the very least watchable.

I have to assume this is a 3 star movie. Have to. It’s possible it does more or less, but not much more or less. This feels like solid three — decent enough, watchable, but not great (hence the January release date). I haven’t seen a 4-star film in January that wasn’t a holdover from the previous year’s Oscar season since… I just went back a decade and haven’t found one. At best, January movies are 3.5 stars. So I say 3. If it’s better, 3.5, if not, 2.5. (It really needs to fuck up to be a 2.) This one seems easy.

One for the Money

I marked this as Unforgivable from last year. It was tentatively scheduled for the summer, but they hadn’t even released so much as an image from the film, so I figured they’d bump it. And looked where they bumped it to…

Tell me you don’t see this and think “Unforgivable”:

Unemployed and newly-divorced Stephanie Plum lands a job at her cousin’s bail-bond business, where her first assignment puts her on the trail of a wanted local cop from her romantic past.

It’s The Bounty Hunter, but reversed.

1 star. 80% chance it’s Unforgivable. I’m so excited to write terrible things about this movie.

– – – – – – – – – –

Recap of January Films:

I go back to my How to Read a Hollywood Release articles to recap these. Mostly because I haven’t actually read those articles since they went up. I want to know how accurate a guide they are. And as I read through them to see how close these films follow that rubric, I realized that I did a really great job with them. They’re like — that’s exactly what it is. It’s like when you see someone on the street and go, “He looks like an Asian Steve Buscemi on a meth bender,” and that’s exactly they look like.

For example: I said January was populated with a particular set of films. Those are:

  • Oscar films and Oscar holdovers (or as I like to call them, “The Oscar Films That Couldn’t”).

This year is looking like War Horse and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close are the two main Oscar holdovers — box office-wise, that is. Coriolanus is the actual holdover — plus whatever gets a lot of nominations. Generally you see films they thought would catch steam and just didn’t.

  • Genre films. I called them the “prevailing” genre winds. That is — in January, shitty films (the word shitty is implied before everything released in January) are almost all genre films, depending on what’s worked in the past. Let me explain briefly:

I use 300 as an example. That came out in March and made a shit ton of money. So, for the years after that, Hollywood plugged in a sword and sandal action film in the early months, first, as close to that particular weekend as possible, then earlier as they got more watered down (in quality and budget). They want to remind you of other films with release dates. You remember seeing 300 in the spring, so they’ll plug in something similar in the spring so you figure, “Let’s try to do that again.”

So, in 2008, you saw 10,000 B.C. And that bombed. They tried to get the 300 audience. But the audience saw it wasn’t that good, so they didn’t go. So what they did was, the next time one of those films came about, they plugged it into the 10,000 B.C. time period, but earlier. Last year, The Eagle was released in February, and almost nobody noticed.

And what happens is, at a certain point, those films stop winning the weekends and stop coming back with a profit (or anything), and some other film ends up winning the weekend. So that genre becomes the genre of that weekend for the next few years. And we’re always in the same cycle, every year. (Seriously, look it up.) That’s the prevailing genre winds.

Now, we’re currently in the cycle of shitty (remember to add it before every film) exorcism movies. Last year, The Rite won a weekend in January, so they plugged in another exorcism film. Not that The Rite was of any quality, but enough people went to see it (#1 weekend counts for a lot in marketing) where the studio can figure people will latch onto that and go see this new movie. (But, this is being released three weeks earlier than The Rite, which means it must be really bad.)

(Note: This technically counts as the (shitty) supernatural thriller of January. They seem to love those.)

The other “genre” that’s holding strong for January recently is the “Liam Neeson beating the shit out of people” genre. Taken, Unknown, now The Grey. He won the weekend last year. They’ll expect the same here. And if this fails, you’ll see this fizzle out and a new genre take its place. (And then they’ll stick with Taken sequels until that well runs dry. Watch.)

Also in January is the romantic comedy spot. There’s always one. And it’s almost always Unforgivable. 2011: No Strings Attached. 2010: Leap Year. 2009: Bride Wars. 2008: 27 Dresses. This year, Heigl’s back.

Also in January — there’s always one franchise. Usually it’s because they’re expecting the film to suck and want to squeeze out as much money as possible while the competition is light (see: Green Hornet) or because it’s just become a January franchise (kind of the way Resident Evil is a September franchise). In this case, Underworld is a January franchise. The last two films of the series came out in January. So this is just like Bond being a November franchise now. That’s just when they release those films.

I also mentioned January as being a spot for films that don’t fit into a single genre, or films that the studios just don’t know what to do with or don’t care to try to figure out what to do with. Usually they’re not very good. Red Tails and Haywire are those films this year. I guarantee you they don’t know what the fuck to do with Red Tails. And Haywire, I bet it’s enough of a Soderbergh movie where they’re worried that if they market it as a standard action movie people will get pissed (because it’s Soderbergh. Even his mainstream movies are not particularly mainstream. People will come out of the theater like, “That’s not what the trailer looked like”).

Other than that — everything else seems standard. Contraband is a standard action movie. Man on a Ledge is a thriller. Joyful Noise is a singing movie. Interesting choice. It’s probably not gonna get too big a release. Either that or they’re just trying something new. That’s cool. (If any of these makes money, expect more of these types of films two years from now.)

And just to keep an eye on Box Office (and give me more things to potentially be right about, up to a year in advance)…

An Oscar holdover will win the weekend the first week of January. Tintin, War Horse — something. Depends on what hits.

Beauty and the Beast will be rereleased in 3D the second week, so that’ll win there. Contraband looks like a $13 million opener at best.

The week after that — Red Tails shouldn’t do more than $15 million (if it even gets a wide release), and Underworld has a chance to take first place over Beauty and the Beast, but — I don’t know. Lion King did fucking bananas business.

One for the Money will probably win the last weekend of the month (because America is stupid and loves Katherine Heigl). Man on a Ledge is a $10-12 million opener at best, and The Grey — maybe Neeson takes first place with a $15-17 million opening. But I doubt it. I’ve been conditioned to expect the worst when it comes to America and shitty Heigl and Aniston movies. That’s just off the top of my head.

Any potential decent films in January?: Haywire, probably. Maybe Red Tails.

Contraband should be generic but watchable (at least, not awful), Man on a Ledge should be watchable, possibly good, and The Grey will be a Liam Neeson January movie. They are what they are.

The rest — not expecting much.

Unforgivables?: One for the Money.

– – – – – – – – – –

February

Big Miracle

Yeah…all I’m thinking about here is Dolphin Tale.

A nonprofit aid worker and a government worker spark romantically as they work together in the effort to free three California gray whales who have become trapped in a hole in the ice of the Arctic Circle.

The two workers are John Krasinski and Drew Barrymore. Yeah, because we love Drew Barrymore. Kristen Bell is also in it. And as much as I like her — she makes bad movies. And Krasinski has made exactly two decent movies in his career (and most people seem to hate one of them).

I’ll see this, but I won’t like it.

2.5 stars. Most people will find it a 3. But I won’t like it. I doubt it’ll be as shitty and pandering as Dolphin Tale. We’ll go 2.5 stars. I’d expect a 2 normally, but let’s stay positive.

Chronicle

This poster doesn’t make me think good things. It reminds me of Skyline. And boy, did that suck.

I assume this to be a shitty sci-fi movie from the poster alone. And then — the release date — makes sense. Let’s see what it’s about:

Three high school friends gain superpowers after making an incredible discovery. Soon, though, they find their lives spinning out of control and their bond tested as they embrace their darker sides.

Ah, so it’s a teen sci-fi movie. In the I Am Number Four/Jumper spot. Yeah — this’ll suck. The actors are unknowns, so this probably won’t make too much of an impact unless they market it to do so.

Oh god. I just found out it’s a found footage superhero movie.

It’s Cloverfield all over again.

That means everyone’s gonna go apeshit over this and I’m gonna have to hate it more than I should be hating it.

2 stars. I hate these types of movies.

W.E.

This is a 2011 film.

This is also Madonna’s directorial debut.

It’s about the affair between King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson.

If you remember — it was a pretty big plot point in The King’s Speech. It’s how he became king.

Honestly, I don’t see what we need to see that we haven’t already seen. And they shot it in two different time frames, with a modern day woman researching the story of these two. So, like Julie & Julia. Yeah, I’m sure  this’ll be much more interesting than The King’s Speech. That film didn’t get any recognition anyway.

2 stars. I really don’t want to have to see this one. This is actually something I consider torture.

The Woman in Black

At least Radcliffe is trying to be a real actor. That’s nice.

This is a period piece. It’s about him, a lawyer (with a son, no less. He’s playing 27 now?), who is working out the legal stuff of a dead woman. And he discovers that the woman is haunting the village, and has to deal with that.

Uh huh. My guess is, it’s a reverse situation, where you think she’s evil, but it turns out, the village led to her death, and all of them are the assholes. Otherwise, what interest is there here?

Supernatural thrillers are not my cup of tea, and there seem to be lots of them. Supernatural and sci-fi. Great

Maybe 2.5 stars. Period pieces tend to go over slightly better with me, but I’m not expecting much here.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

Didn’t we say all we needed to say with the first Journey film? Do people even remember the first Journey film? It was a remake of Journey to the Center of the Earth. It apparently made $100 million domestically, which I guess necessitated a sequel. (Notice the move from summer to February.)

This time, they’ve swapped out Brendan Fraser for Dwayne Johnson (who is a wizard at making money in February and March kid-oriented action movies). They kept the kid, though.

This one is about the kid going to find his grandfather (played by Michael Caine, who I’m not surprised at all to see here), who went missing on the titular island. And the Rock plays the kid’s (Josh Hutchinson, who is apparently in The Hunger Games, who I know from the brilliant Little Manhattan) stepfather.

I’m guessing this will be a 3 star movie. Conventional wisdom says 2.5 stars, but I like Dwayne Johnson. I think this will be a 3 star movie. Weak 3, utterly forgettable, but enjoyable enough. Kind of like Race to Witch Mountain.

Safe House

I love how Denzel, at the same time, has stopped trying and doesn’t make bad movies. Since he won his Oscar, he’s pretty much been coasting, for the most part. Lots of Tony Scott action movies, nothing particularly strenuous. Which is fine. Because the movies have been good. Since Training Day, here’s a list of the films he’s made: John Q, Antwone Fisher, Out of Time, Man on Fire, The Manchurian Candidate, Inside Man, Deja Vu, American Gangster, The Great Debaters, The Taking of Pelham 123, The Book of Eli, Unstoppable. (Note: 12 movies, 7 directed by either Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, or himself.)

Of those, the only one I don’t like is Out of Time. Everything else is, at worst, a 3 star movie (most are at least 3.5). So I hand it to him. At least he makes entertaining films. Not to mention Inside Man, American Gangster, and Pelham are fucking amazing. (I know not everyone likes Pelham, but 2/3 of that movie is terrific. And the final third is fine, it’s just — it didn’t need it.)

The synopsis for the film is this:

A young CIA agent is tasked with looking after a fugitive in a safe house. But when the safe house is attacked, he finds himself on the run with his charge.

So when I see this, plus Ryan Reynolds — I see a movie that should be released later on in the year. February is notorious for being the worst month of the year for movies. (Though admittedly, the last two years have changed that. Now it seems January is back to being the worst month, and February has some good stuff hidden in it.) It seems too good to be released in February. Must be a money thing.

Plus, Vera Farmiga is in it, Brendan Gleeson, Robert Patrick, Sam Shepard — this is a solid supporting cast. I refuse to believe this is shitty. The trailer makes it look thoroughly entertaining.

This, to me, seems like an easy 3.5 star film. I won’t presume 4, but I have to assume 3.5. It could be 4, it could be a 3, but I refuse to believe it goes any higher or lower than that. 3 or 3.5 is most likely. I’d stake my reputation on it, but, let’s face it — I don’t have one to stake.

Undefeated

Weird — a documentary with a release date. This must have gotten some huge notices somewhere.

Oh, wait, football — Friday Night Lights. That’s why.

It’s about a team that’s lost for years and years and are trying to have a winning season. This is one of those documentaries they’ll buy up the rights and make a movie about in three or four years.

It’s a documentary. I’ll tell you right now — I won’t see this unless it’s nominated for an Oscar. And even then. I just don’t watch documentaries. I still haven’t seen Exit to the Gift Shop, and that shit’s supposed to be incredible. So I won’t watch this. Not gonna rate it either, because you can’t pre-judge documentaries.

The Vow

Aww…the Valentine’s Day movie.

Somebody get me a rope.

Oh, you bastards…you’re trying to go all Notebook here, aren’t you?

A newlywed couple recovers from a car accident that puts Paige in a coma. When she awakes with severe memory loss, Leo endeavors to win his true love’s heart all over again.

This gives me pause. If done right, this could be decent. Or even good. Or it could really suck. It’s February, so the ceiling on a film like this is 3.5 stars. And that’s if I really like it. I’m expecting 2.5 stars as a blanket, just because, it could win me over and be 3, or it could suck and be 2. Let’s take the middle ground and say 2.5 and let the film succeed or fail on its own terms.

(Looks like it’s gonna fail though, doesn’t it?)

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Oh yeah. Our first Cage appearance (“and maybe my last“).

I did not like the first Ghost Rider movie. At all. But, this one gave me hope. Why? It’s directed by Neveldine and Taylor. They may not make brilliant films, but their action scenes are interesting as hell. I think that’s what this franchise needs. I think this will be better than the first film. Here’s a synopsis:

Set several years after the first film, Johnny Blaze is in self-imposed exile from the world. Blaze has become a tormented soul, convinced that his powers are a curse. Former stuntman Blaze is then approached by Moreau, a member of the monastic order of Michael, the warrior angel. Moreau seeks a protector for a mother and son duo who are being pursued by a figure named Roarke – a fellow with a detailed knowledge of the Ghost Rider and his different identities over the centuries.

I stopped after the word “approached.” I realized this is a film where the plot doesn’t matter. After all — it’s Nicolas Cage.

I assume the action stylings of Neveldine and Taylor assure this to be a 3 star film. If I really enjoy it and it’s wonderfully batshit, then it’ll be a 3.5. But I won’t presume. We’ll stick with 3 and let the film be badass and win me over.

The trailer has a shot of him pissing fire. How does that not automatically create a 3-star movie?

The Secret World of Arrietty

I thought this was a Miyazaki movie at first. Nope. Just something he wrote. Someone else is directing.

It’s about tiny people, and it looks gorgeous. No idea what the specifics are. I prefer to go into these types of films cold.

I assume this is a 3.5 star film at worst. Even if I don’t really care for it and it’s a 3 star movie, the animation always bumps it up a half-star. This will be entertaining.

This Means War

A film starring Reese Witherspoon and being directed by McG.

2 stars.

Need more to justify that?

“Two CIA agents go to war with one another after they discover they are dating the same woman.”

Actually, I’m glad I did that. Because now the film’s on Unforgivable watch. It’ll need to be truly bad to make it on (I state this every time, so as not to make you think films automatically go on before I see them. Films do actually have to be distinctly bad to be Unforgivable), but it’s a distinct possibility.

Tom Hardy and Chris Pine clearly look like they listened to their agents when they said they need to branch out and do a romantic comedy. This is like when Gerard Butler did the Aniston and Heigl movies. Notice anything there? Yup. Both Unforgivable.

Oh yeah, the coup de grace — “The film was originally going to be made in 2001, with Martin Lawrence and Chris Rock in the lead roles.”

I’ll be watching this one closely. This sure looks like a pile of horse shit.

Act of Valor

 

Poster is decent, but I don’t like what it suggests. It seems too, “soldiers are a brotherhood!” I don’t like that. Tell me a decent story, then make your statements.

Also, before I see anything about this movie aside from the poster:

-1 star for a scene of them sitting around a fire or dinner table, talking about what things are like back home and what they’re gonna do when they do back there. (Huge movie pet peeve of mine.)

(Also, for prospective writers out there — never use the words “So what about you?” in your script. It’s the most ham-fisted lead in for exposition you can possibly have. Example: Soldiers are sitting around, shooting the shit. They joke for a while, talk about how one of them wouldn’t know what a woman looks like. Everyone laughs. Then they cut in close on one of them as his laugh turns serious. And he goes, “Man, I can’t wait to get back home.” And he starts talking about all the great things he did back home — family, women, food, whatever. Then he looks at the guy next to him and goes, “So what about you?”, and then he starts talking about the shit he’s gonna do when he gets home. Every war movie does this (except the really good ones). It’s awful. I cringe and automatically dock the film a half star when I hear it. And it happens in other films too. It’s not an isolated epidemic. So, if you want to write movies — don’t do that. Be better.)

I bet you this film has that scene, though.

Now, what’s this about?

An elite team of Navy SEALs embark on a covert mission to recover a kidnapped CIA agent.

Aww — an Iraq war movie. I… really don’t care. Not even a little bit. I’m sure I’ll see it (mostly because I feel like I’ve been willing to skip almost everything that’s come out on this list until this point), but I don’t think I’ll like it.

(Also, I don’t care that this includes active duty marines in it. I’m still taking this on a movie basis and not automatically being like, “Oh, but its the troops,” — fuck you and your bumper stickers. This is cinema. Them being in the marines has nothing to do with it.)

2 stars. Almost definitely.

Gone

The only film from January and February that didn’t have a poster when I started doing prelim work on these articles (mid-November). That doesn’t bode well for it. Films should have posters within three months of release. Films that don’t tend to get bumped. Remember that shitty Julianne Moore thriller from last year? They bumped that. I’ve a feeling this might get bumped. If not — well —

Here’s a synopsis:

When her sister disappears, Jill is convinced the serial killer who kidnapped her two years ago has returned, and she sets out to once again face her abductor.

Oh yeah, Amanda Seyfried is in this. So is the weird bag kid from American Beauty.

Yeah, if this doesn’t get bumped, it’s gonna suck, and I probably won’t want to see it.

It’s in The Roommate spot. I think that says it all.

2 stars. Maybe 1. If it comes out.

Good Deeds

Ah, one of Tyler Perry’s bi-annual abortions of cinema. Never fails.

I don’t care what this is about, I won’t see it, it will be bad.

2 stars.

Wanderlust

I don’t know what to make of this. David Wain’s directed three movies so far. First, was Wet Hot American Summer. I don’t really like that film. I mean, I have a passing respect for it, but people are fucking rabid for that movie. I just don’t get it. Then he made The Ten, which is pretty meh. I found some parts of it funny, others awful. And then he made Role Models, which I fucking love unconditionally. It’s hysterical. And because of that, I said, “This has to be funny.”

Then I saw that he cast Jennifer Aniston. And my smile faded a bit. Then I saw the trailer, and my smile faded a bit more. By now, I’ve lost about all hope for this one.

It’s about “an urban couple” (Wikipedia calls them an urban couple. I don’t know about you, but, to me — Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston are white) who buy a place in New York, but then Rudd loses his job. So they leave to go back with his family. And along the way, they stay at a hippy commune. And the results are supposed to be hi-larious!

I’m really worried about this. I’ll say 3 stars, because I have to assume Rudd and Wain will make this worthwhile — but I’m terrified of that. This can really, really suck. But I’ll stick with 3, and if I’m wrong, I’m wrong. I’m gonna be tentative as hell around this one.

– – – – – – – – – –

Interesting lineup for February.

In my “How to Read a Hollywood Release,” I called it the “barren wasteland for films.” Harsh words. But honestly, January looks worse this year. This doesn’t seem so bad.

But here’s what I said you can expect to see in February. Let’s see if we have those:

  • Attempted franchises.

Well, we have Ghost Rider. But that actually is a franchise. That’s a franchise spot. (Note: I also mention the “shitty franchise movies” in the article.) Other than that, I don’t really see anything. Maybe you can count Journey 2, since they’re releasing it almost 4 years after the other one, and they’re not sure if people will even give a shit about it, so they’re attempting to reignite the franchise by putting it here. Though that just feels like the early month Dwayne Johnson kids action movie spot. Race to Witch Mountain was March, and this does not look as good (relative term) as that one, so I get why they moved it up sooner.

Wait — so does that mean the failure of I Am Number Four killed all the potential franchises for February? Have we gotten so lucky? Or is Chronicle that film? It’s probably just that no one wanted to tangle with Journey and Ghost Rider. Or the landscape of film is slowly changing. (Yeah, I didn’t really believe that one either.)

Also, the concert film has been pretty big for February. But there aren’t really any teen singers left who don’t have concert films. So I guess that one’s run its course. You’ll see them go back to the well with a one-off in a year or two, though.

Oh, now here’s the big one:

  • The Tyler Perry movie.

Tyler Perry movies are staples of February and September. Always. That is a genre in and of itself. (Not to mention the fact that Tyler Perry movies always, aside from always being released in February and September — except when he only has one movie that year (or they foolishly think one might have Oscar potential) — always manage to make exactly double their opening weekend gross at the box office. Their final total is always double the opening weekend. It’s great. It’s like a Pythagorean Theorem of box office.

Also in February, I said, were “shitty movies made by comedians who make shitty movies the majority of the time.” I guess based on this year’s list, we can slightly amend that to “actors who make shitty movies the majority of the time.” I was operating last year with this list: “Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence. Sandler, Ferrell, Hugh Grant/Drew Barrymore, McConaughey and Hudson, and Larry the Cable Guy.”

Well — we got Drew Barrymore! Also, John Krasinski should totally be added to this list. He’s got lots of February films on his resume.

This Means War also seems to fit this bill. Reese Witherspoon tends to make mostly shitty movies. Though her film feels more like The Bounty Hunter, but lesser (if that’s possible). Of course, lesser implies monetarily. The Bounty Hunter, surprisingly enough, was a March film. I know. But it was released in March.

I like to think of it as, “Fool me once, fool me twice” logic. The studios fooled the public once by getting them to go see The Bounty Hunter. So what they do is, when they make a film just like it (One for the Money also fits this analogy), they release it a few weeks earlier. This does several things. One, it gives it weaker competition. Generally, the further you go in the year, the stronger the films get. March films are better than February which are (typically) somewhat better than January (just as a general rule). So you dump it earlier, people think, “The Bounty Hunter sucked. But, this is being released with that Tyler Perry movie….I’d rather just see the Witherspoon movie.” So they get people, just, less. (It’s basically the same as the 300 thing I said up in January. Repeating it really just tells you how often it is employed by the industry.)

The other thing this strategy does is, as I sort of alluded to up there — subconsciously soothes the person into going to see it. It’s like prices with $.99 instead of $1.00. You see it not released in the same weekend, and earlier, and subconsciously, you know that only shitty films get released early, so you think ,”Well, they’re admitting it’s not so good,” so you accept it. Then, you get to the theater and are like, “Well, I’m not going to see the Tyler Perry movie, so I guess we’ll just see it.” (Note: I’m assuming most people going to the theater are teenagers and not black families. That seems to be who dominates theater attendance, outside of 18-24 males.) You think I’m reading into it, but you’d be surprised at how accurate that is.

Oh, and the other thing that February is notorious for is: regular shitty comedies. Wanderlust looks like that film this year.

Then, The Vow is the Valentine’s Day movie. That’s it’s own little thing. And Arrietty is just — I doubt it’ll factor into box office all that much.

The only films left out of there are special cases…

First, the documentary — that just surprises the shit out of me. The fact that it has a set date is shocking to me.

The Woman in Black — that seems like a January supernatural thriller. I’m not sure why it’s in February. (Though admittedly, it is February 3rd, so that’s kind of January. I guess some bleed over can be expected.)

Act of Valor looks like such a minor film that it doesn’t matter.

Oh, also, Gone — I don’t think they release it. I really don’t. And if they do — shitty genre film. I guess they figure Amanda Seyfried is bankable or something.

Now — Safe House is the one that’s the biggest outlier. It’s just a strange choice for February. This must be a money issue. They’re looking for money. Book of Eli killed in January, so maybe they wanted to put it around that slot, but January was too poor a month to release it in. Has to be. This film could be released in March, April, September, October or even November. February seems to be where it’ll make the most money.

So, Box Office…

I guess Big Miracle wins the first weekend of the month. Wow, that’s gonna be awful, that weekend. That’s gonna be  like Labor Day, when a film wins having only made like $12 million. (Unless Heigl wins two weeks in a row, which, please don’t let that happen, America.)

Second weekend is interesting, since Safe House and Journey 2 are both going up against The Phantom Menace being re-released in 3D. Holy shit, is Hollywood really supplementing a lack of good new films with old films in order to make money? I wonder if we’ll get one re-release a month. We’re 2 for 2 so far.

But that weekend — they have to be operating under the assumption that one of those films won’t make money. It’s either Journey or Phantom Menace. They should bump one of those a week earlier. Safe House will do $16-21 million no matter what. So one of those won’t be making bananas money. Maybe it’s Phantom Menace. Dunno. I guess I’ll just take Safe House, and be on the safe side. They must really have no faith in Journey 2 (or not be expecting much out of Phantom Menace, since it’s part of the new trilogy). Interesting weekend, though. Oh, and The Vow is that weekend. Really? Something’s gonna change, there. No way they open all those films against one another. (This is looking more and more like they’re expecting Journey to open to less than $10 million.)

Third week — Ghost Rider. That’s an easy winner. (Right?)

Fourth week — Tyler Perry. He always wins his weekends.

Any potential good films in February?: Safe House.

Ghost Rider should be entertaining. Not sure if it’ll be good. Secret World of Arrietty should look gorgeous. Not sure about overall quality. Journey 2 will be bad, but kiddie enjoyable, the way many of Rock’s movies have been recently. The rest look forgettable or outright bad.

Unforgivables?: Honestly, potentially Wanderlust. Anything with Aniston automatically gets a look. It’s like in football when they say, “Which film will finish with the worst record this year?”, and every year, they always look at the Cleveland Browns. Because the potential is always there.

Jennifer Aniston is the Cleveland Browns of cinema.

– – – – – – – – – –

Tune in tomorrow for March & April.

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