For such a short month, February is loaded up with new movies from nearly every category, something that’s unusual even in the overcrowded summer and holiday seasons.
Combine that with the fact that there are no sequels, reboots or franchise updates of any kind, and ticket buyers are looking at an ambitious and interesting few weeks at local theatres. Though it’s obvious that the other studios wisely left a lot of space around a certain massively anticipated Marvel film, situations like this often force them to take risks in other ways.
Here’s a look at what’s hitting the big screens in Athens this month. Release dates are always subject to change, so remember to check back for the most current information.
“Winchester: The House That Ghosts Built” (Feb. 2): Here’s hoping that something more than a paycheck in line with the success of “The Conjuring” movies attracted Helen Mirren and Jason Clarke to this big-budget shocker based on real-life events that occurred at California’s Winchester mansion, rumored to be haunted by the spirits of people who were killed by Winchester rifles.
“The 15:17 To Paris” (Feb. 9): Clint Eastwood didn’t just direct this biographical thriller dramatizing the 2015 Thalys train attack, he also cast the three men credited with stopping the gunman to play themselves in the movie: Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler were childhood friends traveling from Amsterdam to Paris when they subdued a heavily-armed terrorist.
“Fifty Shades Freed” (Feb. 9): For the final film in the critically-despised “Fifty Shades” trilogy based on the series of erotic novels by E.L. James, stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan reprise their roles as the romantic leads, now a newlywed couple atoning for their dark past. Famed composer Danny Elfman is credited with the score on all three films, and this one will be released in IMAX.
“Peter Rabbit” (Feb. 9): Children’s author Beatrix Potter refused Walt Disney’s proposal to turn her character into a movie back in 1936, so this marks the first time Peter Rabbit (voice by James Corden) has appeared in his own feature film. He and a host of celebrity-voiced CG animated animal friends run wild on a live action cast that includes Domnhall Gleeson, Rose Byrne and Sam Neill.
“Black Panther” (Feb. 16): First appearing in issue 52 of “Fantastic Four” in 1966 before hitting the big screen 50 years later in “Captain America: Civil War,” king T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) serves as protector of the fictional African nation Wakanda as costumed superhero Black Panther. The top-notch supporting cast includes Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o and Angela Bassett.
“Early Man” (Feb. 16): Though UK-based Aardman Studios has yet to surpass the box office success of their 2000 stop motion animated hit “Chicken Run,” they have continued to produce some of the most entertaining and hilarious family films in the world. Set at the end of the Stone Age, a caveman (Eddie Redmayne) attempts to save his tribe from Bronze Age villains.
“Loveless” (Feb. 16): Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film, this Russian drama from Andrey Zvyagintsev (“Leviathan”) concerns a separated couple (Maryana Spivak and Aleksey Rozin) who are temporarily reunited when their 12-year-old son (Matvey Novikov) goes missing. The director initially intended it as a remake of Ingmar Bergman’s “Scenes From a Marriage.”
“Annihilation” (Feb. 23): Natalie Portman star headlines this action fantasy from “Ex Machina” director Alex Garland as a biologist who ventures into an environmental disaster zone after her soldier husband (Oscar Isaac) returns seriously wounded. Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez and Tessa Thompson co-star. Adapted from the first in a trilogy of novels by Jeff VanderMeer.
“Game Night” (Feb. 23): This comedic murder mystery stars Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams among the participants of a neighborhood couples game that turns deadly. The track record of helmers Jonathan Goldstein and John Frances Daley includes co-writing last year’s awesome “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and co-directing the not-so-awesome 2015 “Vacation” reboot.