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January is the first month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars and one of seven months with the length of 31 days. The first day of the month is known as New Year's Day. It is, on average, the coldest month of the year within most of the Northern Hemisphere (where it is the second month of winter) and the warmest month of the year within most of the Southern Hemisphere (where it is the second month of summer). In the Southern Hemisphere, January is the seasonal equivalent of July in the Northern Hemisphere.


  • Janus was invoked at the commencement of most actions; even in the worship of the other gods the votary began by offering wine and incense to Janus. The first month in the year was named from him; and under the title of Matutinus he was regarded as the opener of the day. Hence he had charge of the gates of Heaven, and hence, too, all gates, Januæ, were called after him, and supposed to be under his care. Hence, perhaps, it was, that he was represented with a staff and key, and that he was named the Opener (Patulcius), and the Shutter (Clusius).
    • M. A. Dwight, Grecian and Roman Mythology, Janus; reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 403.

Film "dump month"[edit]

January and February are one of two periods of the year known as the "dump months" when American movie studios and distributors, for a variety of reasons, release movies generally considered subpar, or that appeal to a narrower audience.

  • My idea of movie hell is a place where the floors stick, the sound is half a second out of sync, the person behind me repeats every punchline to his companion and the only films to be seen are the kind that get released in January. It's well known that January films have a character that is, let us say, distinctive. That isn't to call them the year's worst—though many January films certainly have tendencies in that direction—but merely to point out how peculiar they can be. January is to film releasing roughly what the Bermuda Triangle is to navigation ... What is it that leads film distributors to regard January as just the right resting place for so many flukes, black sheep, wild cards and also-rans? Whatever it is, it seems to exert an irresistible pull.
  • In the US, January is "dump month" at the movies. The films no studios believe in or care about—the stuff that doesn't get screened for critics, the stuff that barely gets promoted beyond blurbs from obscure websites and suspicious raves from local TV chefs and weathermen—suddenly become the sole choice available to regular filmgoers hungry for fresh fare.

    A mere matter of days after American screens have been filled with the finest achievements of contemporary cinema (not to mention Dreamgirls) everything changes.

  • If a movie has the makings of a blockbuster and it's getting released in January or February, then it's fairly safe to assume that it sucks. Take Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters as an example. It's got fairy tale/fantasy cred and tons of CGI violence; it’s got a big, bad witch; it's got Academy Award nominee Jeremy Renner. If this flick were any good, it would be coming out in June.
  • A proper January movie gets released to thousands of theaters at once—a studio's way of gritting its teeth and ripping off the Band-Aid ... The marketing plan for a film like this is often just a formal wake, the last stop before a film's reincarnation as generic product for the on-demand/DVD/streaming after-markets.
  • A June bad movie has way too much money riding on it to be anything but mediocre and boring. With hundreds of millions of dollars on the line, a crummy June film is going to be test marketed and reshot and reedited to within an inch of its life. By the time it makes its way to you, if it's not working, anything interesting or unusual in it will have been focus-grouped into oblivion so the studio can protect their enormous investment.

    A January bad movie, on the other hand, receives no such care (or meddling). Why throw good money after bad? Just cut your losses and let the thing really suck. And that's how you wind up with a movie like The Devil Inside, which is so intensely stupid it's almost brilliant—and entirely entertaining. To put it another way: in January, you get trainwrecks. In June, you get controlled demolitions ... In other words, with low financial risk comes the opportunity for high creative risk, an agreeable quality shared by many January releases

  • The only people who are going to see movies at that time are over the age of 35; who have savings accounts and weren't tapped out by Christmas. That's why Taken was such a hit and why Clint Eastwood movies tend to do so well in January. They are made for an audience that still has money. They release the Oscar bait movies, which play to that crowd, and then you just get this terrible sprinkling of crap.
  • Japanese folklore tells of a practice called ubasute—literally "abandoning an old woman"—in which villagers would carry their elderly and burdensome relatives to the peak of a mountain or some other similarly desolate place and leave them there to die ... In the film business, ubasute is an all-too-real phenomenon, and it happens in full view of the public. Every year, during the first proper weekend of January, the studios’ niche labels trot out the horror movies they know have nothing to contribute to society and leave them for dead in your local multiplex, hoping that the release might make life simpler by turning a tidy profit and easing the company balance sheets.

    All of this is to say that anybody with access to a calendar already knows that The Forest is bad; at this point, that's less of a presumption than it is a tradition. The only question worth asking about an early January horror movie is if its inevitable badness is at all interesting.

    • David Ehrlich, "The Forest, Slate; January 8, 2016.

External links[edit]

  • Encyclopedic article on January on Wikipedia
  • The dictionary definition of january on Wiktionary