Here’s Statistical Proof That February Movies Suck

Slate's culture blog.
Feb. 6 2014 10:51 AM

Confirmed: February Movies Suck

Plus: how badly.

February movies are bad. Filmgoers know it. Movie executives know it. The industry reserves its most promising films for the holidays and summer, when consumers have the leisure to watch them, and the real stinkers for February. Just how bad are these February movies? We’re too afraid to watch them ourselves, so we looked at the Rotten Tomatoes scores of every movie making more than $1 million in the domestic box office since 2000, grouped the movies by month of release, and averaged the scores. Here’s what we found:

Weigh by earnings »

Average Rotten Tomatoes rating of films by month

Among films making above $1 million domestically, excluding re-releases.

Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May June July Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2000 34 41 43 58 47 55 50 43 47 52 52 52
2001 62 31 57 36 63 54 57 50 39 48 48 61
2002 53 41 55 53 61 59 62 51 46 52 58 59
2003 51 49 53 53 69 41 54 48 46 59 60 58
2004 38 35 49 40 43 54 50 44 47 45 46 48
2005 51 50 48 53 55 59 60 49 52 51 55 55
2006 51 45 52 47 48 56 48 53 47 53 58 49
2007 43 49 49 41 54 65 55 38 49 54 52 58
2008 46 51 45 52 53 60 66 43 39 55 62 59
2009 52 42 51 59 57 52 53 57 46 53 54 66
2010 39 54 55 52 57 55 57 58 58 56 58 59
2011 48 41 61 58 49 58 64 55 47 63 60 66
2012 49 54 59 65 54 61 67 54 53 53 72 58
2013 42 41 41 50 56 63 55 48 56 56 64 53
Avg.* 48 45 51 51 55 57 58 49 48 54 57 57

Average Rotten Tomatoes rating by month, weighted

« BackAmong films making above $1 million domestically, excluding re-releases. Each film is weighted according to its box office earnings relative to the earnings of all considered films released in the same month.

Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May June July Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec.
2000 20 40 49 54 62 53 49 45 59 59 54 50
2001 71 36 59 39 56 45 49 52 38 50 69 70
2002 61 35 60 53 72 56 54 62 45 59 64 73
2003 53 48 42 51 72 48 55 55 53 64 51 67
2004 43 47 49 51 62 70 57 46 45 48 59 51
2005 53 47 37 54 57 64 63 53 56 40 63 58
2006 51 39 54 39 51 55 50 55 49 52 69 55
2007 46 38 47 45 50 70 65 54 42 54 56 55
2008 46 41 42 53 68 68 71 46 38 51 58 55
2009 52 42 57 45 64 44 55 60 55 55 43 69
2010 37 46 58 41 54 61 62 53 59 60 69 57
2011 41 36 60 61 56 51 67 63 62 67 49 64
2012 47 45 64 56 75 66 70 56 55 56 75 66
2013 49 35 49 60 65 64 58 53 58 79 76 65
Avg.* 51 42 53 50 62 59 60 54 52 57 62 61

* Average score of films released in each month. | Source: Rotten Tomatoes, Box Office Mojo

February films scored an average of 45—3 points below the next-worst months, January and September, and eight points below the average score of all movies. What’s a 45? For those unfamiliar with the Rotten Tomatoes scale, a 45 is not that good: Recent films that earned a 45 include Daredevil, National Treasure, and the Planet of the Apes remake.

True, even loathsome February can, once every few years, yield a cinematic treasure. The Wedding Singer, The Silence of the Lambs, Coraline, and In Bruges were all February releases. (Some awards-bait movies, in limited release in December or earlier, see their widest release in February as studios try to capitalize on Oscar nominations.) Perhaps it’s unfair to judge the month by its number of bad films, throwing every film indiscriminately into the same basket. After all, it doesn’t matter if there are more bad movies if everyone sees the good ones. Unfortunately, they don’t. Weighing each movie by its box office revenue actually lowers February’s score 3 points while increasing the scores of most other movies. In February consumers simply get the smallest bang for their buck.

Advertisement

There’s little indication that February 2014 will represent a turnaround for the month. Based on initial reviews, The Lego Movie sounds promising, but The Monuments Men and A Fantastic Fear of Everything, releasing with it this weekend, have fallen short of hopes. Vampire Academy can be dismissed on title alone. Next week’s Robocop remake may be as doomed as 2012’s Total Recall remake. Pompeii, due later this month, appears to be another installment in the “subpar ancient Greece/Rome action movies” genre, while Non-Stop looks like another halfhearted Taken rip-off. Sadly, all we can do in the face of such Razzie fodder is hunker down with Netflix’s new streaming releases and dream of spring.

Chris Kirk is Slate's interactives editor. Follow him on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.