E: Readers old and new, welcome to the February movie preview!
M: Now wait. Before we get to the February, a quick note on a potentially major development from January. For those not up with the usual cycles of movie releases, there are typically only a few big movie months out of the year. The summer (which, in Hollywoodland, starts in May and ends somewhere around the start of August), October (horror movies) and the holiday season (November through Christmas). However, that all may be changing. In recent years movies like The Hunger Games and Divergent have come out in March, and done exceptionally well, making the early spring more viable.
E: Let me stop you there: there have always been outliers in March. Silence of the Lambs — the rare blockbuster and thriller to also win the top five Oscars — opened in March.
M: Yes, that’s fair, but recently March seems more a target than just having occasional outliers.
C: And last year, The Lego Movie came out in February. Or do kids’ movies not count, even when adults go to see them?
E: It totally counts as an outlier.
M: Moving on to my point, though, the last couple weeks have seen what could be a seismic shift. Oscar contender American Sniper has been put into wide release (it technically opened in December, but that was in literally FOUR theaters) and has shattered January box office records. Not only did it shatter the single-weekend monthly record, but it put up the 8th biggest second weekend of all time. Not January all time, all time all time.
E: I’m not willing to call it a shift; lots of Oscar movies open to wide release in January, and plenty of them make money. It’s just that American Sniper happens to be making a lot of money.
C: Unlike — no offense — most “Oscar movies” (aka depressing critical favorites of the sort that usually went wide in January).
M: Obviously it’s too early to say for sure, Miss Not Willing. The question is, what does this mean for January moving forward?
E: I’ll admit, if it were a shift, I’d be pretty happy about it. There should be good movies out all year long, and the fact that people are willing to brave the terrible weather much of the north has been having to see American Sniper ought to show the studios that. It’s ridiculous to compress them all into a few months, and you’d think the great box office slump of 2014 — not to mention the massive competition movie theaters face from home theaters — would help convince the industry that they can’t take time off from giving us good options. What a revolution that would be!
M: So say we all. Okay, on to February, and another crapshow of new releases.
C: But sort of a fun crapshow!