January Movie Releases That Didn’t Suck

Matinee Movie

5. Matinee – January 29, 1993

Joe Dante still had some of that Gremlins swagger when he made this delightful John Goodman film in 1993. However, in Hollywood’s eyes, he’d soon lose it. This love letter to movies did not connect with audiences; it didn’t even cross $10 million.

Thankfully, movie lovers found the film on video and continue to watch and adore it today. It has a cheeky tone with lots of subversion, and a plethora of crazy effects, and fun ideas. And did we mention John freaking Goodman?

Tremors movie

4. Tremors – January 19, 1990

Man, I love Tremors. It’s got Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Michael Gross, and a totally awesome horror premise about massive killer worms who respond to movement. It’s such a beloved movie, and has spawned so many sequels, you’d think it was a hit when released. Not the case. When Tremors opened in January of 1990, it was the #5 movie and ended up with a gross of only $16 million.

What you have here, like a lot of these movies, is a case of home video saving the day. No one saw Tremors when it was in theaters, but once it hit home video people ate it up. It’s not the first horror-comedy, nor would it be the last, but in 1990 that blend of horror and comedy wasn’t as prevalent as it is today, and it just plain worked.

From Dusk Till Dawn

3. From Dusk Till Dawn – January 19, 1996

When I was researching January released I was like, “From Dusk Till Dawn opened in January? But wasn’t that a massive hit?” The answers to those questions are “Yes, it did” and “No, it wasn’t.” As a 16-year-old boy when the film opened, of course I was excited to see a vampire bloodbath from the directors of Pulp Fiction and Desperado. But I was in the minority. The film opened at #1 but only grossed about $26 million total. That was more than it cost, but definitely not as much as you’d think it made the way some fans revere the movie.

And revere the movie history should. From Dusk Till Dawn remains one of Robert Rodriquez and Quentin Tarantino’s best collaborations, blending all the things both directors are best at. Throw in George Clooney, Cheech Marin, Salma Hayek and that ending? You’ve got one of the best January releases ever. In fact, the film still endures with a current TV show and multiple direct to video sequels.

Broadway Danny Rose Woody Allen

2. Broadway Danny Rose January 27, 1984; Radio Days January 30, 1987

Okay, a bit of a cheat here. In the mid-Eighties, Woody Allen released two movies in late January, both of which would go on to some critical acclaim. Both were moderate hits, grossing $10 and $14 million respectively.

Besides there release dates, these Allen films actually do share a lot in common. They’re both set in the world of show business, they were both nominated for two Oscars, both star Mia Farrow, and both kind of get lost in the discussion of the best Woody Allen movies ever. Neither is, but both are good too, and that’s more than enough for a high rank on this list.

Before Sunrise

1. Before Sunrise – January 27, 1995

Another day, another Richard Linklater film at the top of a list here on /Film. But it’s hard to argue with this one. No, Before Sunrise wasn’t a break away hit. It only grossed about $5.5 million. But it opened at $1.4 million, meaning word of mouth really kept the film going.

That word of mouth continues today. Who would have thought that 10 years after this movie, Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy would make a sequel? And 10 years after that, they’d complete a trilogy? The Before series is probably the best modern romantic series. Who would guess now that it got started in the worst of all the movie months: January.

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