January: take a dive into the movie dump month
By Mikael Trench
The new year is finally here and there is a lot for us to look forward to, but for movie fans everywhere, January only means one thing: a slew of bad movies. Yes, it is that time when Hollywood seems determined to dump all their worst films out into theaters and we must sit through the unholy garbage they present to us.
While this period of time, commonly known as the “movie dump month” (which can also include Feburary and sometimes August and September), has given us some good films here and there such as “From Dusk Till Dawn” (1996), last year’s “Kung Fu Panda 3” and even the 1991 Academy Award Best Picture winner “The Silence of the Lambs,” the vast majority of movies to come out during this time often range from mediocre forgettable trash to horrifyingly terrible pieces of cinema that leave deep scars. From “My Baby’s Daddy” (2004) to“Alone in the Dark” (2005) to “Epic Movie” (2007) to “Mortdecai” (2015) to “Norm of the North” (2016), January has never failed to give us a trainload of disappointments. So why does January contain the worst of the worst? Why don’t filmmakers and distributors release the more anticipated movies of the year much earlier in order to take over the box office quicker? Well let’s see just what makes January the least wonderful time of the year for movies by taking a deeper look.
What Kind of Movies are Released During Dump Months?
So what movies commonly make up the movie dump months? In case you couldn’t already tell, movies released during this time are usually of mediocre quality, but if you pay close attention, most of the movies released during this time mostly fall under similar genres.
Comedies are a common genre to see around this time of year, with more traditional but nonetheless awful comedy films such as “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” (2009) and “Tooth Fairy” (2010) staining our silver screens as well as a massive collection of atrocious parody films such as “Epic Movie” (2007), “Meet the Spartans” (2008), “Vampires Suck” (2010) and “A Haunted House” (2013). Mediocre quality action movies are also not uncommon to see with many of the “Underworld” films being released in January, as well as other stinkers such as “BloodRayne” (2005), “The Book of Eli” (2010), “The Green Hornet” (2011) and “I, Frankenstein” (2014) having come out around this time. There are also a vast number of horrible family and teen films that plague this time of the year, including “Date Movie” (2006), “The Nut Job” (2014) and “Monster Trucks” (2017).
However, probably the most infamous genre to be released during the movie dump months are horror films. Movies such as “Thr3e” (2006), “One Missed Call” (2008), “The Unborn” (2009), “The Devil Inside” (2012), “Texas Chainsaw 3D” (2013), “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones” (2014), “The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death” (2014), “The Forest” (2016), “The Boy” (2016) and “The Bye Bye Man” (2017) only scratch the surface of the enormous steaming pile of horror crap we receive every year and have become so many that many refer to January as the second October nowadays, sometimes pointing out that the reason horror films come out so often during this time is because of the dread that the wintery weather brings.
What’s the Reason for a Dump Month to Exist?
So why does Hollywood seem so determined to let loose their worst during these times? There have been many speculations as to why this might be over the years. Award season plays a big role according to many experts. According to many studies, most “Oscar bait” films come out during the end of the year in order to be fresh in the minds of critics and award voters. Films released much earlier in the year are much more likely to be forgotten by audiences and are often ineligible to be nominated for awards until the following year.
However, likely the most prevalent reason has to do with time and money during this period. This time of the year is when people everywhere are going back to school and work during the beginning of the year and don’t have as much free time as they used to during the holidays. Spending, in general, is usually at an all time low during this time of year, as most people are trying to recuperate from the mass murderings their wallets have gone through during the holiday season. With the general lack of time and money people have during this time, not to mention the harsh winter conditions in certain parts of the country, most studios don’t want to risk having a major release become a box office bomb, so they decide to play it safe and release lower budgeted films that they can afford to take a chance with.
Do Dump Months Need to Exist?
Let’s be real here. As much as we’d like to avoid it, we’ll never live in a world without bad movies. And that’s not essentially a bad thing. For upcoming filmmakers, it’s beyond crucial to know what goes into the making of a bad movie just as it is to know what goes into the making of a good one. And for everyone else, seeing bad films can still be a fun experience with friends and help them appreciate good movies even better (trust me, after writing this I am having a Tarantino marathon for myself).
However, what makes dump months so sad is the mere concept that there are so many filmmakers and artists out there who care so little about their work that they have very specific times of year to release them all at once. And the fact that this constantly happens year after year with such a massive trash heap of movies coming out is what makes it all the more disappointing. No matter what time of year it is or what the movie being made is about, filmmaking, like all art, should be seen as a challenge. If you have faith in your idea to be good, and are sure it will draw in a crowd and be remembered by critics and award voters, then all you need is to take that risk and release it early on. Sometimes that risk could pay off in ways you may never have imagined.