February used to be the doldrums for movies, with studios catching their breath after the holidays and gearing up for spring break and summer. But it’s been proven that if you release something people really want to see, you can drop it at 4 AM on a Tuesday on two screens in Montana and people will come out for it. The summer season pretty much starts in April now, and a film can be a hit no matter what time of year you release it. I doubt we’ll see an Avengers or Star Wars movie opening in February any time soon, but as last year’s The LEGO Movie showed, it’s not exactly a graveyard anymore either.
And “graveyard” is my clever segue into talking about The Lazarus Effect. You got that one absolutely free. You’re welcome. Anyway, I remember this film back when it was called Flatliners, only this doesn’t have anywhere near the kind of buzz-worthy cast that film did. There’s not a lot to say about this one beyond the usual: the reviews are terrible, but it only cost $5 million, it’s horror, and any kind of opening will be a win for it. I doubt it’ll make enough for us to be seeing a Lazarus Effect 2: Post-Mortem Boogaloo, but hell, any studio worth its name can haul a film to $10 million these days.
Then we have the return of the king. Will Smith meant gigantic box office back in the ’90s, when $300 million for Independence Day really meant something. But he’s slowed his pace down a lot since 2008’s Hancock; 18 films in 16 years before it, only 3 films in the 7 years since, and he’s really not in After Earth or Winter’s Tale that much at all. But Focus not only seems to herald a return of the headlining Will Smith, but of the old great big capital WILL SMITH. The trailers have just been oozing with everything people remember liking about him: good looks, sense of humor, attitude, you name it, and I got the sense from the audience reactions I saw that people seemed genuinely glad to see this particular Will Smith back. The reviews have been fairly positive, there’s nothing really killing it at the box office right now (especially with Fifty Shades of Grey‘s precipitous drop), so there’s a good chance this could propel Smith back to prominence.
Just don’t give him any ideas about any more Men in Black movies, okay?