The 2016 Film Release Calendar: January

Every January, I preview all the films that are scheduled to come out for that year. I go through the existing release calendar, month by month, and guess how much or how little I’m going to like each of the films.

The major benefit is that it allows me, come the end of the year, to see which movies ended up surprising me for better or for worse, or which ones I had wildly disproportionate expectations for. It also gives me a chance to know what’s coming out and what to look forward to.

I also take all the films that are filming or in post and theoretically able to come out that year and preview those too, along with all the films from the previous year(s) that have yet to come out that I’ve been tracking. In all, I end up previewing more films than pretty much anyone else, I’ve been told.


The Forest

An unexplained horror occurs in a Japanese forest.

So this is a horror version of the Gus Van Sant movie? (The critics at Cannes would argue that already exists.)

Natalie Dormer is starring. The director hasn’t made a feature before.

I’d like to skip this. But in case I don’t, since it is January and these movies end up getting watched because nothing else is going on — 2.5 stars.


Multiple lives intersect in the aftermath of the violent mugging of a Columbia University philosophy professor.

This is the third year I’ve been tracking this. They’re finally dumping this on VOD. After all this time, I have to go 2.5 stars and let this win me over.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

An American Ambassador is killed during an attack at a U.S. compound in Libya as a security team struggles to make sense out of the chaos.

Michael Bay made a Benghazi movie. Crazy how they have no faith in this, even after all he did for that studio. At least give him the decency of putting this out in February or March or April and not January.

I mean sure, we’re all expecting this to be closer to Blackhat than Zero Dark Thirty, but still… Bay knows how to direct a movie. How can you not assume 3 stars here?

Maybe 2.5 and it’s not good, but it’s either 2.5 or 3. Bay has earned at least that much, even if he’s being dumped in January.

Ride Along 2

As his wedding day approaches, Ben heads to Miami with his soon-to-be brother-in-law James to bring down a drug dealer who’s supplying the dealers of Atlanta with product.

The first movie was marginally entertaining. This is going to likely be more of the same. I have the option of going 2.5 stars and assume the sequel decline or go 3. This is where I was with Hot Tub Time Machine 2.

I feel like the second I go 2.5 stars, it’ll be 3. So I’ll just say 3 stars and let this be worse.

Norm of the North

Displaced from their Arctic home, a polar bear named Norm and his three lemming friends wind up in New York City, where Norm becomes the mascot of a corporation he soon learns is tied to the fate of his homeland.

Yeah…. animated movies in January… these don’t go well.

2.5 stars. It could even drop to 2. Remember The Nut Job?

Oh, and Rob Schneider is voicing Norm. It can be 2.

Actually, let’s make it 2 stars.

The Benefactor

A philanthropist meddles in the lives of newly-married couples in an attempt to relive his past.

This used to be called Franny.

Richard Gere, Dakota Fanning, Theo James.

Could be 3, but after all this time of it not coming out, I’m going with 2.5 stars.

The 5th Wave

Four waves of increasingly deadly alien attacks have left most of Earth decimated. Cassie is on the run, desperately trying to save her younger brother.

Yeah, I saw a trailer for this in front of Star Wars. It looks like alien invasion YA bullshit. I like Chloe Moretz but she’s had a pretty mediocre track record the past few years.

Also in this are Maika Monroe, Liev Schreiber, Maria Bello and Ron Livingston.

2.5 stars. Looks like generic YA shit.

The Boy

An American nanny is shocked that her new English family’s boy is actually a life-sized doll. After violating a list of strict rules, disturbing events make her believe that the doll is really alive.

This is by the director of The Devil Inside, a movie I skipped. And this will likely be the same.

But just in case… 2.5 stars.

Dirty Grandpa

Right before his wedding, an uptight guy is tricked into driving his grandfather, a perverted former Army general, to Florida for spring break.

Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Aubrey Plaza, Zoey Deutch. You’ve probably seen the trailers.

3 stars. These usually go by easily. Not expecting anything good, but I assume it’ll be passable enough.


After witnessing a miracle, a young Latina woman experiences strange things as a police detective searches for the truth behind his partner’s death.

This used to be called Daughter of God.

Keanut Reeves, Mira Sorvino, Christopher McDonald, and Big Daddy Kane.

Dumping on VOD, so I have to assume drop. 2.5 stars. Maybe it can hit 3. The trailer doesn’t look particularly promising.

Fifty Shades of Black

Marlon Wayans made another parody.

A Haunted House was shit. Most of his parody movies are shit.

The original was shit. How could this be any better?

I’m wanna say 2.5 stars, because I think it would be funny if this movie were better than the original. Let’s be honest, though — this will be bad.

The Finest Hours

The Coast Guard makes a daring rescue attempt off the coast of Cape Cod after a pair of oil tankers are destroyed during a blizzard in 1952.

Directed by Craig Gillespie, who did the Fright Night remake, Million Dollar Arm and Lars and the Real Girl.

Starring Chris Pine, Eric Bana, Holliday Granger, Ben Foster, Casey Affleck.

It looks like a completely fine movie. Had this come out in June, I might have ventured to go 3.5 stars. But this being set for end of January, I can’t have any faith in this to be anything other than a perfectly watchable, yet cliche as shit, by the numbers rescue/disaster movie.

3 stars.

Jane Got a Gun

A woman asks her ex-lover for help in order to save her outlaw husband from a gang out to kill him.

Do we believe this is actually going to come out?

Do I need to go over the story of this again? I guess I should.

First day of shooting, the director doesn’t show up and quits. Then half the stars quit. They get a new director and reshuffle the cast around. Then they finally finish shooting, have to go in for major reshoots. Then the release date gets pushed from August to February to September and now to January.

Gavin O’Connor is directing. Everybody really liked Warrior. Pride and Glory was solid. Miracle was really good. And Tumbleweeds got a Best Actress nomination back in the day. So he’s definitely a capable hand. It just seems at this point like this movie might be beyond repair.

It’s funny that in the time between when this movie was finished and in delay from being released, he shot an entire other movie that was actually set to be released before this one was (and then they bumped it to October. So we’ll talk about it then.

For now – Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor, Joel Edgerton, Rodrigo Santoro, Noah Emmerich.

It’s a western. I feel bad dropping this to 2.5 stars, so I’m gonna stick with 3 stars and wait to see if this is as bad as the chaos surrounding its production and release makes it out to be.

Let’s not unfairly shit on something before it gets its day in court.

Kung Fu Panda 3

Continuing his “legendary adventures of awesomeness”, Po must face two hugely epic, but different threats: one supernatural and the other a little closer to his home.

Yeah… the first one was cute. Did not give a fuck about the second one. So let’s not mince words: 2.5 stars. I won’t care about this one bit.

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