Monday, January 5, 2009

Hurray for ... January?

January used to be the absolute pits for movies. All the big holiday movies came out in November and December, and the studios didn't start rolling out their good stuff until Spring.

Changes in recent years, though, have led to January becoming one of the better months for new movies, apart from the summer and holiday seasons.

First, the Academy Awards got moved up to February, which ended up compressing the time frame where ambitious films could get noticed. Some Oscar hopefuls started opting out of the crush, debuting in just a few cities in December to qualify, then waiting until January for their big roll-out. "Million Dollar Baby" followed this strategy a few years ago with virtually no hype, had January essentially to itself, and the money and golden statues rolled in.

Now many of the big Oscar wannabes are waiting until January to hit most markets, including "Gran Torino," "The Reader," "Defiance," "The Wrestler," "Revolutionary Road" and several others.

More importantly, studios have discovered that if you put out good movies during what is normally considered a slow time, avid movie-goers will show up.

So this month, in addition to those other movies mentioned above, some high-profile releases are slated. They include "Notorious," a biopic of rapper Biggie Smalls; "Bride Wars" with Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson; the third installment in the "Underworld" franchise; and the Rene Zellwegger romcom "New in Town."

Worthwhile movies in January ... whoda thunk it?

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