As a lifelong lover of movies, I’ve grown adept at discovering new tastes in genres and storytelling formats. Even more so, I’ve become an expert at figuring out the types of movies that release in each month. This is a quick, essential, and helpful guide as to exactly what will be playing in every one of the 12 months.
January: Where Movies go to Die
Typically a hodgepodge of unbearably terrible horror movies, whose studios generally have little to no faith in. (Who remember’s The Bye Bye Man?) January also serves as a dumping ground for low-key movies that very few people genuinely give a shit to watch. Other than that, you have some wide releases from movies shown in December/November, that are now trying to increase their chances of box office success. Overall, though, I would normally avoid new January movies and just celebrate the new year.
February: A Love/Hate Relationship
In recent years, there’s been a spike in February movies that get a lot of attention. In 2015, we got Kingsman: The Secret Service and (unfortunately) 50 Shades of Grey, while 2016 got the hilarious Deadpool. Other releases generally include family-friendly adventures and shamelessly sappy Valentine’s Day romance date movies, but only a few of them are really ever worth seeing. Unless something comes out with an 85 or higher on Rotten Tomatoes, you really aren’t missing out on much.
March: The Inbetweeners
Probably the most inconsistent month of the year, March is a horse of a different color with each passing year. For every 10 Cloverfield Lane and Ex Machina, we are also given forgettable YA crap like The Divergent Series. Strategically speaking, this is also a month when studios want to get great profit before the summer movie season. Just look at releases like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Zootopia for further proof of that. But there are generally no contenders for Best Picture.
April: The Preseason Forgettables
The only movies in April from the last few years worth noting are Green Room Disney’s live-action version of The Jungle Book. Sure, every now and again, there’s a hidden gem that springs up and gets everyone talking. Often, it’s foreign films that are getting a theatrical run in the United States. Aside from that… there’s just not much worth seeing during April. Just because a movie is released on April 1st isn’t fooling anyone in the slightest. I’m looking at you, Meet the Blacks.
May: The Start of Summer
Now, this is when the heavy hitters start to roll in. Right when the kids are finishing up their final exams, a studio will drop a movie or two that allows them to escape from their reality. In recent years, this has been a month that lies home to comic book superhero films… some that are better than others. It’s also been home to some of the most critically acclaimed movies in recent memory, such as Mad Max: Fury Road and The Nice Guys. Also worth noting are an interchangeable group of raunchy comedies.
June: The Dark Horse
Being the month that’s plopped down in the middle of the year, June has also been a bit of a mixed bag. Since the beginning of the new decade, it has been the home for Pixar’s annual animated movies. While they can go up and down in terms of quality, there’s no denying that they become hugely successful with the whole family. Other than that, we are treated to a string of mediocre dramas and hollow blockbusters. A number of video game adaptations released in June… need I say more?
July: Month of ‘Merica
Okay let’s be honest: Almost any blockbuster or film of any genre that comes out around this time is bound to be a sentimental piece of cinema, reminding audiences why it’s great to be in America. Such is the case of films such as The Purge: Election Year, Independence Day, and Forrest Gump. To clarify, that doesn’t mean that every movie in the month is like this and is bad. In fact, Forrest Gump is one of the best movies to come out of the 1990’s, while Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was the biggest surprise of 2015.
Similar to January, August is, generally speaking, a dumping ground for bad movies which studios hope will be forgotten within a month or so. Once in a while, however, we will get a worthy drama like Hell or High Water. Meanwhile, Guardians of the Galaxy came out in early August of 2014 and is arguably Marvel Studio’s most ambitious production to date. But then, there are a few crap-burgers like Fan4stic and Pixels, which are both borderline unwatchable. So these are films to wait and get on DVD/streaming to save money.
September: On the Bubble
Around September is when the Academy starts considering movies to get nominations in big categories. This happened in 2016 with Clint Eastwood’s biographical drama Sully, which was seen as a contender for Best Actor and Picture. However, Screen Gems uses this month to release its annual Fatal Attraction rip-off with the same actors swapped in the roles. And all of them have been terrible for the same exact reason. So whether or not you choose to go out and spend money this month depends on your tastes.
October: Jump Scares
Of all the months of the year, this is perhaps my favorite due to the diversity of films that come out at this time. Since Halloween comes in at the very end of October, you can expect at least a few horror movies to fill the gap. Most of them, though, are jump scare fests with overly cliche plots and horrendous acting that would give Porn-Hub a run for its money- or lack, thereof. We are also given some interesting action films with some hefty narrative drama, including Argo and Gravity, both which were critical darlings.
November: Hot Turkey
Now, we’re getting knee deep into Oscar season. Many movies that have come out in the month of November (at least want to) get considered for the Academy Awards. Just look at releases like Lincoln, 12 Years a Slave, and Arrival– the latter of which was my favorite film from 2016. But that’s not all we get. For Thanksgiving, some studios also release family-friendly films that are fun to watch before or after chomping down on the turkey. Marvel Studios and Disney Animation, especially, have found a new home here.
December: ‘Tis the Season (For Moviegoers)
Everyone loves Christmas, right? Well, if you don’t, that’s okay because we still get some great content in December. Aside from the occasional shameless feel-good Christmas movie each year, (Ahem, Collateral Beauty) this is where the studios really start pushing their Oscar contenders out of the door. In more recent years, they’ve often utilized the sneaky tactic of a limited release so it can see a bigger audience in January. Why you may ask? Because Disney has seen Star Wars kill it in December, and wants that to continue.