Forget Friday the 13th. For those of us who love movies, the scariest day is the first Friday of the year.
Without fail, the first movie to open wide each year is almost always a dud. Worthy films open in December, where they can gain momentum, and cash-in on holiday viewers. This is also where the bulk of the awards season contenders debut, fresh for critics' year-end "best of" lists. (A number of these films platform in markets like New York and L.A., and will be opening in Atlanta in the coming days and weeks - most notably Zero Dark Thirty, Promised Land, Amour).
This piece is not about these films. Instead, it is about the crap that studios dump after the peach drops and the calendar turns to January. Now is the time to spew cinematic waste, where it won't drag down the previous years' financial reports, and where any losses will be balanced out by prestige projects (like Les Miz) and box office champs (like Django Unchained, The Hobbit, This is 40 and Skyfall).
In 2013, the honor goes to Texas Chainsaw 3D, opening today!
Give the folks at Lionsgate credit: even the TV spot welcomes the honor by including New Year's anthem "Auld Lang Syne."
Here's a look back at the last 10 years worth of first films of the year, along with the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer scores, and a sampling of the best critical quips.
"People of the world: If you find some footage, leave it be. You will likely be doing the rest of us a huge favor." - Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times
"Another movie is turned into a turkey." - Rick Groen, Globe and Mail
Say it ain't so, Amy Adams! Alas, on Friday, January 8, a bunch of excellent people brought us Leap Year, a D.O.A. rom-com that over 79% of critics found worthy of a D.N.R. (At 21% on the Tomatometer, it is the highest scoring film of the lot!)
"What makes Leap Year so singularly dispiriting is precisely that it is bad without distinction - so witless, charmless and unimaginative that it can be described as a movie only in a strictly technical sense." - A.O. Scott, New York Times
Friday, January 9 continues the trend of unfunny comedies, with 2013 Oscar fave Anne Hathaway and once promising comedienne Kate Hudson as cat-fightin' 'zillas in Bride Wars clawing their way to a pathetic 11% on the Tomatometer.
"You want to see Anne Hathaway in a worthy vehicle? Check out Rachel Getting Married. You want to see Kate Hudson in a worthy vehicle? Rent a time machine." - Richard Roeper, Richard Roeper.com
Friday, January 4, takes us back to horror with the shot-in-Georgia American adaptation of One Missed Call, and earning the distinction of a 0% on the Tomatometer, with 78 reviewers reporting, making this, arguably, one of the worst films ever made.
"If you missed the first One Missed Call, made in Japan in 2004, you now can miss the American remake." - Bill Stamets, Chicago Sun-Times
On Friday, January 5, repeat offender Lionsgate tried to sneak the animated turd Happily N'ever After on screen hoping no one would notice. Unfortunately for them, the critics did, tromping the film with a 4% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
'I hate to tell you, but it gets worse,' one character promises midway through Happily N'Ever After. No kidding. - Lou Lumenick, New York Post
Friday, January 6 belongs to Uwe Boll, who should consider opening every year with a film. BloodRayne, which overachieves at 4% film on Rotten Tomatoes, makes one wonder whom a German director needs fick to match the depths of One Missed Call's Zero Dark Zero.
"Who is Uwe Boll and why does he hate moviegoers so? The German hack, the one-man Blitzkrieg of Bad, is the worst filmmaker in the movies today." - Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel
"Too silly to describe, much less analyze." - Rex Reed, New York Observer
Hoping to get a jump on the weekend, and break the "First Friday" curse, Chasing Liberty opened on Wednesday, January 7 instead. At 18% on the Tomatometer,, this modern retelling of Roman Holiday with Mandy Moore as the U.S. President's daughter was not received favorably by the critics.
"It's one TV-movie romp that Kristy McNichol never got around to starring in." - Wesley Morris, Boston Globe
(Maybe it'll be funnier when the rebel teen is a guy in the new NBC sit-com.)
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