From a cinematic tracking standpoint, January is signaling that sweeping change is coming. January is the home of two different sets of box office releases:

  • A movie dumping ground for studios
  • Oscar contenders getting a wide release push

Both strategies are a push for attention in that they take advantage of a vacant box office. The strategy worked for surprise hit of the season, Hidden Fences, and that’s about it. Unless the name of the movie has “: A Star Wars Story” in it.

Three traditional Oscar contenders utilizing the January Attention Matrix completely flopped this month. Martin Scorsese’s Silence, Ben Affleck’s Live By Night, and Mark Wahlberg’s Patriot’s Day. We’re not talking about The Artist, here. We’re not talking about a silent black and white movie from France. We’re talking about three of the most viable filmmakers of the last twenty years. All three failed to connect at a time when the country is clamoring for escapism.

Of course, there is a chance that movies about priests suffering in feudal Japan, a gangsters in Florida, and the Boston Marathon Bombing aren’t the type of escapism that America needs at the moment.

This week, the formula gets put to the test again. A classic January box office matchup will pit three hopefuls against each other to see who can knock Hidden Figures out of the top spot.

SPLIT

WHAT’S IT ABOUT (via Wikipedia):

After a wholesome teen birthday party, three girls are kidnapped in broad daylight: friends Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia (Jessica Sula), and difficult outsider Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy). Their captor Kevin (James McAvoy) locks the trio in a windowless room, then proceeds to frighten and baffle them. One minute he’s wearing eyeglasses and obsessive about cleanliness, the next he’s presenting as female, and later he acts like a nine-year-old boy. It is revealed that Kevin exhibits 23 alternate personalities, and in order to escape, his captives must convince one of the personalities within him to set them free, before the arrival of the 24th and final personality, the “beast”.

THE FOUNDER

WHAT’S IT ABOUT (via IMDB):

The story of Ray Kroc, a salesman who turned two brothers’ fast food eatery, McDonald’s, into one of the biggest restaurant businesses in the world.

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage

WHAT’S IT ABOUT (via Wikipedia):

Extreme athlete turned government operative Xander Cage (Vin Diesel), thought to be long dead, comes out of self-imposed exile as recruited by the CIA to race villain Xiang (Donnie Yen) to recover a powerful weapon known as “Pandora’s Box” which can control military satellites which could cause catastrophic damage. Recruiting a group of thrill-seeking cohorts (a sharpshooter and a hacker), Xander finds himself caught up in a deadly conspiracy of corruption among world governments including insiders in his own country’s government.

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