ZAMM.COM: February Films

By Martin Grove,

February films: February's a short month, but it's got a tall list of new films heading to the multiplexes.

The month boasts two holidays--Valentine's Day and Presidents' Day--that typically result in an expansion of moviegoing. This time around those two special days are linked as a single weekend starting Fri., Feb. 14 with Valentine's Day and ending Mon., Feb. 17 with Presidents.

Last year the holidays were split up more with V Day on a Thursday and P Day the following Tuesday. Hollywood prefers it when Valentine's doesn't fall on a weekend because many people celebrate the holiday by seeing a movie, which translates into bonus ticket sales. When it falls on a weekend, much of that box office boost is lost because weekends are when most moviegoing is done anyway.

On the other hand, P Day falling on a Monday is better for Hollywood. Because it's a day off from school and work for many people, it turns into a four-day holiday weekend with expanded moviegoing.

Here's a quick look at what's on deck for February in terms of new wide releases.

FEB. 7: Three titles will kick off the month, each with an eye on a different moviegoing audience.

Families are the target for the 3D animated PG action comedy The Lego Movie from Phil Lord and Chris Miller, directors of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. Its voice stars include Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks and Will Arnett.

In the film, Emmet (Pratt) is an ordinary, rules-following LEGO mini-figure who's mistakenly identified as the key to saving the world. When he's sent on an epic quest to stop an evil tyrant, it's a journey for which Emmet is hopelessly and hilariously underprepared.

Lord and Miller launched a hit family franchise with their 3D animated Meatballs, which opened Sept. 18, 2009 to $30.3 million and went on to gross $124.9 million domestically. The next episode, Meatballs 2, directed by Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn, opened Sept. 27, 2013 to $34 million and did $118.6 million. Lego stands to benefit most from the four-day weekend.

Parents typically look for ways to keep young children occupied over long holiday weekends and a movie like Lego is a great way to do it. Moreover, Lego and its toy building blocks is a brand name many parents know from their own childhood and will enjoy revisiting now with this movie. Many kids, of course, have Lego toys and can easily relate to the film.

The PG-13 biographical action drama The Monuments Men, directed and co-written by George Clooney, stars George Clooney, Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett. Its primary appeal should be to adults (25-plus males and females). All three stars are big box office draws and Blanchett's hot right now as a best actress Oscar nominee for Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine.

The film is based on the true story of a World War II platoon sent into Germany to rescue art masterpieces from Nazi thieves and return them to their rightful owners. Known as the Monuments Men, they raced against time to prevent a thousand years of culture from being destroyed by the German Army as the Third Reich fell.

The fantasy action comedy Vampire Academy is directed by Mark Waters and stars Zoey Deutch, Lucy Fry and Danila Kozlovsky. Its likely core audience is under-25 females with under-25 males the next most likely.

The film revolves around Rose Hathaway (Deutch), a 17-year-old half human/half vampire guardian at St. Vladimir's Academy of the Moroi race of peaceful mortal vampires, must deal with protecting the Moroi from enemy vampires, the bloodthirsty immortal Strigoi.

FEB. 14: Four films are opening wide for Valentine's Day, but one of them, the PG-13 sci-fi action crime thriller RoboCop, will get a jump on the weekend logjam by hitting theaters Wed., Feb. 12.

Directed by Jose Padilha, it stars Joel Kinnaman, Douglas Urbanski and Abbie Cornish. Its core audience is likely to be males under-25 and 25-plus.

It's a reimagination of the R-rated 1987 hit RoboCop, directed by Paul Verhoeven and starring Peter Weller. The first film opened July 17, 1987 to $8 million and did $53.4 million domestically (a good amount of money at the time). It spawned sequels in 1990 and '93 that grossed $45.7 million and $10.7 million, respectively, in domestic theaters.

In the film, set in the year 2028, the multinational conglomerate OmniCorp is at the center of robot technology. When Alex Murphy (Kinnaman), a good cop fighting crime in Detroit, is critically injured, OmniCorp sees a new opportunity for its controversial military technology--a part-man/part-robot police officer and billions of dollars in profits.

The romantic comedy About Last Night is directed by Steve Pink and stars Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Regina Hall and Joy Bryant. Its core audience is likely to be under-25 females and under-25 males dragged along by those under-25 females.

It's a reimagination of the R-rated 1986 hit About Last Night… Directed by Edward Zwick, it starred Rob Lowe, Demi Moore and James Belushi.

This contemporary version of the original film, which was based on David Mamet's stage play Sexual Perversity in Chicago, looks at new love for two couples as they journey from the bar to the bedroom and are eventually put to the test in the real world.

Also targeted to young adult couples celebrating V Day is the romantic drama Endless Love, directed by Shana Feste and starring Gabriella Wilde, Alex Pettyfer and Bruce Greenwood.

It's a reimagination of the R-rated 1981 romantic drama of the same name directed by Franco Zeffirelli and starring Brooke Shields, Martin Hewitt and Shirley Knight. The original film opened July 17, 1981 to $4.2 million and went on to gross $31.2 million domestically (a good gross back then).

FEB. 21: With the holidays out of the way, this will be a quieter weekend with only two new wide releases.

The 3D PG-13 action adventure Pompeii is from Resident Evil franchise director Paul W.S. Anderson and stars Kit Harrington, Carrie-Anne Moss and Emily Browning. Its core audience is likely to be males under and over 25.

In the fim, Milo (Harrington), a slave turned gladiator, races against time in 79 A.D. to save his true love Cassia (Browning) from marriage to a corrupt Roman Senator. With Mount Vesuvius erupting blazing lava, Milo fights his way out of the arena to rescue Cassia as Pompeii crumbles.

The action thriller 3 Days To Kill, directed by McG, stars Kevin Costner, Hailee Steinfeld and Connie Nielsen. Kill should play best to over-25 males.

In the film, when Secret Service Agent Ethan Runner (Costner) discovers he's dying, he wants to retire to reconnect with his estranged family. But when the agency offers him access to an experimental drug that could save his life in exchange for him doing one last assignment, he quickly finds himself juggling his family, his mission and the new drug's hallucinatory side effects.

FEB. 28: February will end with another jam packed weekend at the multiplexes as four wide releases compete for moviegoers' time and money.

The PG-13 animated biographical drama The Wind Rises is directed by Hayao Miyazaki and stars the voices of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt and Jennifer Grey. The adult appeal film, an Oscar nominee for Best Animated feature, opened Feb. 21 in limited release. It's a look at the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the engineer who designed the Zero fighter plane that Japan used in World War II.

In the film, Jiro (Gordon-Levitt) dreams of flying and designing beautiful airplanes, inspired by the famous Italian aeronautical designer Caproni. Nearsighted from a young age and unable to be a pilot, Jiro joins a Japanese engineering company in 1927 and becomes one of the world's most innovative and accomplished airplane designers.

The PG-13 suspense action thriller Non-Stop, directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, stars Liam Neesom, Julianne Moore and Michelle Dockery. Its core audience is likely to be men and women over 25.

The film revolves around Air marshal Bill Marks (Neesom), who is forced into action at 40,000 feet on a New York to London flight when he receives anonymous text messages demanding the airline turn over $150 million or a passenger will be killed every 20 minutes.

The PG-13 drama Son of Godfrom first-time feature director Christopher Spencer, stars Diogo Morgado, Amber Rose Revah and Fraser Ayres. The film's core audience is likely to be 25-plus men and women.

In the film, the life of Jesus (Morgado) is told with the scope and scale of an action epic, featuring exotic locales, major visual effects and a score by Oscar winner Hans Zimmer.

The sci-fi thriller Welcome To Yesterdayfrom first-time feature director Dean Israelite, stars Amy Landecker, Sofia Black-D'Elia and Ginny Gardner. Its core audience should be under-25 males and females.

The film follows a group of teens who embark on an adventure when they discover secret plans to build a time machine.

Bottom line: Besides these new films, moviegoers will also be catching up in February with Oscar's Best Picture nominees, including three front-runners--Gravity, whose director Alfonso Curaron won the Directors Guild of America's award last Saturday; American Hustle, winner of the Screen Actors Guild's best ensemble cast award; and 12 Years a Slave, which tied with Gravity for the Producers Guild of America's film award.

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