Coming off a January riddled with box office disappointments, things are looking a lot brighter in February. As usual, the biggest releases are piled around Valentine's Day: A Good Day to Die Hard, Beautiful Creatures and Safe Haven will all battle for date-night audiences that day. However, the biggest movie of the month could be comedy Identity Thief, which has the kind of premise and cast that can be broadly appealing among adult audiences.
The February record was set last year ($818 million), and if a few of these movies pop there's definitely a chance that 2013 sets a new high mark. February 1
Super Bowl weekend is often a slow one at the box office, and this year looks to be no exception.
Because of its likely appeal among younger female audiences, Warm Bodies has the best chance at success. Adapted from the 2010 book of the same name, the movie appears to be a fresh spin on the tired zombie genrein this case, the protagonist is a zombie who begins to come back to life as he falls in love. While this might be too out-there for some audiences, Summit has put together a nice marketing effort that's made the movie look both unique and accessible. It's not going to get to the same levels as 2009's Zombieland ($75.6 million), but it does at least look poised to be a modest success at this point.
The other major nationwide release on Super Bowl weekend is Bullet to the Head, which oddly targets the older male audience that's going to be hunkered down watching the big game. Excluding the two Expendables movies and franchise fare, this is Stallone's first solo outing since 2001's Driven, which disappointed with just $32.7 million. Bullet to the Head would be lucky to match that: Stallone's Expendables 2 co-stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jason Statham have both headlined bombs in the last two weeks (The Last Stand and Parker, respectively), and Bullet to the Head looks generic enough that a similar start (around $7 million) wouldn't be surprising at all.
Action comedy Stand Up Guys, starring Al Pacino, Alan Arkin and Christopher Walken, also opens this weekend, though it's being dumped in to around 450 locations. With poor reviews and a very limited marketing effort, it's unlikely this makes much noise. February 8
Things start to get interesting on the second weekend of February when R-rated comedy Identity Thief faces Steven Soderbergh thriller Side Effects.
All signs point to Identity Thief being a big hit. The movie is director Seth Gordon's third narrative feature: the first two, Four Christmases and Horrible Bosses, made $120.2 million and $117.5 million, respectively. Identity Thief's concept (laid out pretty clearly in its title) has a similar broad appeal, and the combination of Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy (in her first lead role) should make this a great date night option. With a strong start and a solid hold over Valentine's Day, this could become Gordon's third-straight $100 million comedy. Side Effects is a much tougher sell. In what's likely an attempt to keep some of the plot under wraps, the previews are all over the place: while some audience members will appreciate this, it's tough to get many people to show up for a movie that they can't quite describe. Also, major box office draw Channing Tatum is relegated to the sidelines in the previews, which suggests his role is small. Distributor Open Road Films is surely hoping for grosses close to director Steven Soderbergh's Contagion, though without that movie's strong hook it's likely that Side Effects winds up with around half of Contagion's $75.7 million.
After around a month on video-on-demand services, A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III arrives in limited release on Feb. 8. The movie marks Charlie Sheen's return to the big screen, but it appears too avant garde to attract people who regularly watched Sheen on Two and a Half Men or Anger Management.