January means two things for Hollywood: Oscar Movies held over from December, and (how shall I say this) ... pretty crappy movies that the studios are pushing out.
Take a look at the three movies opening this weekend: (not so top drawer) Code Name: Cleaner, New Line's Cedric the Entertainer comedy that's gotten a lot less buzz than all of Cedric's other stuff. From Lions Gate, the Happily N'Ever After, a CGI film made in Manilla -- which I've heard is not as sleek and fancy as the Pixar stuff. And though I've seen plenty of ads for Freedom Writers, it hasn't been tracking well; and if they thought anyone had a shot at an Oscar, it'd have come out earlier.
Some super top-secret info my insider sources passed along: numbers from NRG, the movie awareness tracking service, showing that only one percent of all people polled said that The Cleaner is their first choice, just three percent of people saying Freedom Writers is their top choice and only two percent picking Happily N'Ever After first. These are LOW numbers -- and only about half of those polled are aware of these films!
My theory: everyone's movied out after the big holiday season push, and the studios know it. They also know that this second-rate stuff looks better next to high-minded Oscar fare than it would next to summer popcorn flicks ... and it's a less notable disappointment if these studios are still riding the wave of their better stuff that opened just a few weeks ago. But beware your local cineplex this weekend, it could be quiet.