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:
Average Rotten Tomatoes rating of films by month
Among films making above $1 million domestically, excluding re-releases.
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.
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.
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.