Vulture

Skip to content, or skip to search.

the cruelest month

Just How Bad of a Movie Month Is January?

This month's slate of movies includes yet another Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a horror spoof starring Cedric the Entertainer (A Haunted House), an Arnold Schwarzenegger "comeback" with Johnny Knoxville (The Last Stand), and an oft-delayed fairy tale turned action flick (Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters). Welcome to January! For decades, studios have used the first month of the year as a dumping ground, either to even out their equilibrium from the past few months of releasing intelligent Oscar bait or to serve lovers of shlock who have been dying of crap starvation through said Oscar season.

Still, 2013's shaky lineup will have a hard time reaching the lows of Januaries past. (Will Gangster Squad raise the median? We shall see.) In an effort to see just how poorly Hollywood has historically treated January, we looked back at the major film releases in the maiden month for the past 25 years and averaged their Rotten Tomatoes scores, then listed them in order from worst to best. Interesting to note that the eighties are represented both at the top and bottom of this list, but this could be more a result of the fact that far fewer movies used to be released then, so it took less to sway the average. But even if you don’t care for the science, you’ll enjoy this walk down crappy-movie memory lane!

1989
Rotten Tomatoes average: 16 percent
Highest: Gleaming the Cube, 29 percent
Lowest: DeepStar Six, 0 percent
Other releases: The January Man, Physical Evidence, Three Fugitives

1996
Rotten Tomatoes average: 19 percent
Highest: From Dusk Till Dawn, 64 percent
Lowest: Big Bully, 0 percent
Also: Bio-Dome, Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood, Dunston Checks In, Eye for an Eye, Lawnmower Man 2, Two If by Sea, Bed of Roses, Screamers

1988
Rotten Tomatoes average: 22 percent
Highest: The Couch Trip, 43 percent
Lowest: Return of the Living Dead 2, 0 percent
Also: For Keeps

2003
Rotten Tomatoes average: 23 percent
Highest: Final Destination 2, 47 percent
Lowest: Kangaroo Jack, 8 percent
Also: Just Married, A Guy Thing, National Security, Darkness Falls, Biker Boyz, The Recruit

2007
Rotten Tomatoes average: 24 percent
Highest: Freedom Writers, 69 percent
Lowest: Epic Movie, 2 percent
Also: Code Name: The Cleaner, Happily N'Ever After, Alpha Dog, Primeval, Stomp the Yard, The Hitcher, Blood and Chocolate, Catch and Release, Smokin' Aces

2000
Rotten Tomatoes average: 25 percent
Highest: Fantasia 2000, 82 percent*
Lowest: Down to You, 3 percent
Also: Next Friday, Supernova, Isn't She Great, Eye of the Beholder

2005
Rotten Tomatoes average: 26 percent
Highest: Coach Carter, 65 percent
Lowest: Alone in the Dark, 1 percent
Also: White Noise, Electra, Racing Stripes, Are We There Yet?, Assault on Precinct 13, Hide and Seek

1999
Rotten Tomatoes average: 27 percent
Highest: Varsity Blues, 40 percent
Lowest: Virus, 9 percent
Also: At First Sight, Gloria, She's All That, In Dreams

1998
Rotten Tomatoes average: 27 percent
Highest: Fallen, 41 percent
Lowest: Firestorm, 12 percent
Also: Half Baked, Hard Rain, Star Kid, Phantoms, Spice World, Deep Rising, Desperate Measures, Great Expectations

2004
Rotten Tomatoes average: 28 percent
Highest: Teacher's Pet, 75 percent
Lowest: My Baby's Daddy, 4 percent
Also: Chasing Liberty, Along Came Polly, Torque, The Butterfly Effect, Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!, The Big Bounce, The Perfect Score, You Got Served

1994
Rotten Tomatoes average: 28 percent
Highest: Tie between Blink and Iron Will, 64 percent
Lowest: Tie between House Party 3 and Car 54, Where Are You?, 0 percent
Also: The Air Up There, Cabin Boy, Intersection, Blink

2008
Rotten Tomatoes average: 29 percent
Highest: Cloverfield, 77 percent
Lowest: One Missed Call, 0 percent
Also: First Sunday, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything, 27 Dresses, Mad Money, How She Move, Meet the Spartans, Rambo, Untraceable

2006
Rotten Tomatoes average: 33 percent
Highest: Nanny McPhee, 73 percent
Lowest: BloodRayne, 4 percent
Also: Grandma's Boy, Hostel, Glory Road, Last Holiday, Tristan and Isolde, End of the Spear, Underworld: Evolution, Annapolis, Big Momma's House 2

1997
Rotten Tomatoes average: 34 percent
Highest: Gridlock'd, 88 percent
Lowest: The Shadow Conspiracy, 0 percent
Also: Jackie Chan's First Strike, The Relic, Turbulence, Beverly Hills Ninja, Metro, Fierce Creatures, Zeus and Roxanne, Meet Wally Sparks

1991
Rotten Tomatoes average: 34 percent
Highest: White Fang, 63 percent
Lowest: Eve of Destruction, 0 percent
Also: Lionheart, Not Without My Daughter, Flight of the Intruder

2001
Rotten Tomatoes average: 35 percent
Highest: The Pledge, 78 percent
Lowest: Double Take, 12 percent
Also: Antitrust, Save the Last Dance, Sugar & Spice, The Wedding Planner

1993
Rotten Tomatoes average: 35 percent
Highest: Matinee, 92 percent
Lowest: Body of Evidence, 6 percent
Also: Leprechaun, Alive, Nowhere to Run, Aspen Extreme, Hexed, Children of the Corn II, Sniper

2010
Rotten Tomatoes average: 36 percent
Highest: Tie between Daybreakers and Youth in Revolt, 67 percent
Lowest:  The Spy Next Door, 13 percent
Also: Leap Year, The Book of Eli, Extraordinary Measures, Legion, Tooth Fairy, Edge of Darkness, When in Rome

2009
Rotten Tomatoes average: 36 percent
Highest: Taken, 58 percent
Lowest: Tie between Bride Wars and The Unborn, 11 percent
Also: Not Easily Broken, Hotel for Dogs, My Bloody Valentine 3-D, Notorious, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Inkheart, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, New in Town, The Uninvited

2002
Rotten Tomatoes average: 37 percent
Highest: The Count of Monte Cristo, 73 percent
Lowest: Kung Pow! Enter the Fist, 11 percent
Also: Impostor, Orange County, Snow Dogs, The Mothman Prophecies, A Walk to Remember

2012
Rotten Tomatoes average: 39 percent
Highest: Haywire, 80 percent
Lowest:  One for the Money, 2 percent
Also: The Devil Inside, Joyful Noise, Contraband, Red Tails, Underworld Awakening, The Grey, Man on Ledge

2011
Rotten Tomatoes average: 39 percent
Highest: The Way Back, 75 percent
Lowest: Season of the Witch, 10 percent
Also: The Dilemma, The Green Hornet, No Strings Attached, The Mechanic, The Rite

1995
Rotten Tomatoes average: 41 percent
Highest: Far From Home, 57 percent
Lowest: Houseguest, 15 percent
Also: Demon Knight, Higher Learning, Murder in the First

1992
Rotten Tomatoes average: 44 percent
Highest: Juice, 83 percent
Lowest: Freejack, 15 percent
Also: The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Kuffs, Shining Through

1990
Rotten Tomatoes average: 63 percent
Highest: Tie between Internal Affairs and Tremors, 88 percent
Lowest: Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, 14 percent

1987
Rotten Tomatoes average: 79 percent
Highest: Radio Days, 95 percent
Lowest: Outrageous Fortune, 50 percent
Also: The Bedroom Window, The Stepfather

*This post initially stated that Fantasia 2000 had a Rotten Tomatoes score of 25 percent.