Steven Soderbergh's new film, Haywire smashes into theaters near you in in a few weeks, and while Soderbergh is usually a can't-miss director, the fact that this film was scheduled for January is an eyebrow raiser. No one here is saying this movie is a pile of garbage, but why release it in January if it isn't a pile of garbage? January is the trash heap of the film industry. Have a movie with a good cast but poor script? Release it in January (Anthony Hopkins' Great Expectations, The Big Bounce). Have a romantic comedy that just doesn't hit the right tone? Release it in January (Along Came Polly, Two if By Sea). Have a complete and utter disaster that you actually paid people to make and need to release it to make a profit? Show it in January (Bio-Dome). There have been a handful of diamonds in the rough month of January, but they are not only extremely rare, they are from a long time ago.
Tremors January 19, 1990
88 percent on the Rotten Tomatoes meter
This Kevin Bacon classic is about giant snakes that terrorize a small Texas town. This movie spawned 3 sequels (including a prequel) and a TV series! I may or may not have seen this movie 99 times when I was a kid.
Sleeping Beauty January 29, 1959
85 percent on Rotten Tomatoes meter
One of two Disney cartoons to make this list. Sleeping Beauty initially bombed at the box office, but over the years has been hailed as one of the best animated films of the Walt Disney era. This was the last Disney feature to use hand-inked cells, meaning a lot of people lost their jobs after this film. You can thank Xerox for that.
101 Dalmatians January 25, 1961
97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes meter
Featuring possibly the best villain name ever (Cruella de Vil) and a cameo from The Lady and the Tramp this Walt Disney produced cartoon was the tenth highest grossing film of 1961 and is the reason why my childhood neighbors had a dalmatian.
Dr. Strangelove January 29, 1964
#3 on the AFI 100 Years...100 Laughs List
The best movie to ever be released in the month of January. Stanley Kubrick's black comedy masterpiece features Peter Sellers in 3 different roles. Fun Fact: The reason why this movie was released in January is because JFK was assassinated a few weeks before the scheduled premiere date.
Special Honorable Mention:
Varsity Blues January 15, 1999
40 percent on Rotten Tomatoes meter
I don't want your life! If there was ever a category for Ultimate Guilty Pleasure Film this one has to be in the Top 5. You have James Van Der Beek in his Dawson's Creek prime, Ali Larter in a whipped cream bikini, Paul Walker before the Fast and the Furious franchise, Scott Caan being all Scott Caan-like, and Jon Voight as the crotchety old coach.
And that's it folks. Films released in January are usually clunkers. That's not to say there isn't money to be made. Along Came Polly took in over 170 million worldwide and that movie is god awful. Maybe Haywire is a bona fide good film, but history tells a different story.
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