While last month saw Ride Along 2 and Kung Fu Panda 3 emerge as the biggest box office successes, January followed the month's tradition of unleashing a relatively underwhelming slate of new films. Awards contenders continue to draw attention, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens closed the month with a worldwide gross of $2 billion in its sights.
However, February has a much more competitive selection of films ahead, including the first of many comic book films coming this year, a pair of much-delayed sequels and a world wherein Jane Austen heroines face off against the undead. Without further ado, here are 10 films to check out in February 2016:
10 Hail, Caesar! (Release Date: February 5)
At this point, simply the prospect of a new film from Joel and Ethan Coen is enough to reel in audiences. Throughout their career, the Coens have deftly balanced dark, moody thrillers with more comedic fare, and Hail, Caesar! aims to be a worthy addition to the latter.
Set in 1950s Hollywood, the film follows a movie star (George Clooney) who goes missing during the production of a historical epic and the fixer (Josh Brolin) who attempts to retrieve him. The film features an outstanding cast that also includes Channing Tatum, Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Jonah Hill, and Frances McDormand, but the question remains if it will live up to that impressive roster.
Check out the latest trailer for Hail, Caesar!.
9 Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Release Date: February 5)
Genre mash-up films may not always land with audiences (see: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter). However, there's reason to believe that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies could become a sleeper hit this month. Like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, the film is based on a hit novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, and as its title suggests, it injects zombies into Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, serving as a new kind of irreverent adaptation.
Lily James (Cinderella) stars as literary heroine Elizabeth Bennet opposite Sam Riley's Mr. Darcy, with Lena Headey, Matt Smith, and Charles Dance in supporting roles. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies clearly aspires to be a fun romp, wherein the contrast between the flesh-hungry undead and the more restrained storytelling of Austen's story gives way to big-screen thrills. Here's hoping that objective translates well to the finished film.
Check out the latest trailer for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
8 Deadpool (Release Date: February 12)
Marvel Comics fans were (understandably) outraged at the treatment that Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza's anti-hero Deadpool was given in the 2009 release X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Aside from a brief bit of swordplay early on, Ryan Reynolds' character bore almost no resemblance to his comic book counterpart.
Luckily for fans, Reynolds has remained attached to a proper Deadpool adapatation, and seven years after the character's big-screen debut, he will appear in all of his foul-mouthed glory this month. In addition to realizing fans' long-held dreams of seeing Wade Wilson's alter-ego brought to life, the project marks an interesting move in the world of superhero cinema, as it serves as the first R-rated film based on a Marvel character since Punisher: War Zone misfired in 2008. If Deadpool is a hit, it could open the door for riskier takes on popular comic book titles.
Check out the latest trailer for Deadpool.
7 How to Be Single (Release Date: February 12)
Fifty Shades of Grey may have been savaged by critics (and grossed $571 million worldwide regardless), but the film did manage to make a star out of Dakota Johnson. For her next role, the actress headlines new romantic comedy How to Be Single, based on the novel by Liz Tuccillo (He's Just Not That Into You).
In the film, Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Leslie Mann, and Alison Brie take moviegoers on a laugh-filled exploration of single life, as they navigate the streets of New York City. How to Be Single purports itself to be a female-driven comedy for the same audience as films like Bridesmaids and last year's Trainwreck, but it remains to be seen if it will reach similar success.
Check out the latest trailer for How to Be Single.
6 Zoolander 2 (Release Date: February 12)
For years, Ben Stiller has been teasing a sequel to his 2001 comedy Zoolander, and this month, Derek Zoolander (Stiller) and "Blue Steel" return for the aptly titled Zoolander 2. Original stars Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, and Christine Taylor are also back for the sequel, which follows Derek and Hansel (Wilson) as they attempt to discover who's assassinating the most beautiful people.
Comedy sequels can often be a mixed bag, but with much of the creative team back onboard, hopes are high that Zoolander 2 can recapture the goofy charm of the original film. Enough time has gone by that Stiller and company can presumably bring a new spin to these beloved characters and the ridiculous world in which they live.
Check out the latest trailer for Zoolander 2.
5 Race (Release Date: February 19)
In Race, Stephan James stars as Jesse Owens, the track star who traveled to Berlin to compete in the 1936 Olympic Games under Adolf Hitler's regime. The film is the first biopic about Owens, and his tale of overcoming adversity could serve as the basis for one of the most powerful films hitting theaters this month.
In addition to James, Jason Sudeikis, Jeremy Irons, William Hurt, and Carice van Houten co-star in the drama, which is directed by Stephen Hopkins. The filmmaker previously brought a true story to life in the Emmy-winning HBO film The Life and Death of Peter Sellers and will likely bring the same skillful hand to Owens' life.
Check out the latest trailer for Race.
4 The Witch (Release Date: February 19)
This year's Sundance Film Festival has yielded several buzz-worthy films (e.g. The Birth of a Nation, Manchester by the Sea), but this month's The Witch was actually a standout at the 2015 festival, nabbing the Directing Award in the U.S. Dramatic category. Now, horror fans curious to see Robert Eggers' film will finally have the chance to see it.
The plot centers on a family in 1630s New England that falls apart when accusations of witchcraft surround the disappearance of their infant son. Writer/director Eggers makes his feature debut with the project, and its period setting and thematically rich material could easily establish it as a don't-miss release for horror fans.
Check out the latest trailer for The Witch.
3 Gods of Egypt (Release Date: February 26)
Courtesy of cult classics like The Crow and Dark City, director Alex Proyas has become renowned for his visual flair in dealing with science fiction and fantasy elements. So Gods of Egypt seems like a natural fit for the filmmaker, whose last film was the apocalyptic Nicolas Cage thriller Knowing in 2009.
Brenton Thwaites and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau lead an ensemble cast as mortal Bek and Egyptian god Horus, respectively, as they embark on a mission to face god of darkness Set (Gerard Butler). The film's over-the-top effects and larger-than-life performances could mean that Gods of Egypt is a loving throwback to the epic adventures of the past. If nothing else, fans of the genre may be interested in checking it out this month.
Check out the latest trailer for Gods of Egypt.
2 Triple 9 (Release Date: February 26)
Heist films are natural opportunities to assemble a collection of stars for big-screen thrills. Triple 9 is the latest Hollywood thriller to explore the complex criminal underworld. The film brings together an ensemble cast that includes Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus, Woody Harrelson, Kate Winslet, Clifton Collins, Jr., Michael K. Williams, Teresa Palmer, and Gal Gadot.
Director John Hillcoat previously tackled the cops-and-criminals genre with 2012 period drama Lawless, and the extensive cast and scope of Triple 9 could prove to be even more ambitious an endeavor for the filmmaker. At this point, it's unclear how well the film will tackle the morally ambiguous nature of the law and those on both sides of it.
Check out the latest trailer for Triple 9.
1 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (Release Date: February 26)
Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is beyond iconic. The Oscar-winning adaptation of novelist Wang Dulu's Wuxia novel became a phenomenon for its detailed stuntwork, rich characters, and mythical story, and since it's based on only one installment in a series of books, a sequel was long-rumored.
Sixteen years after its predecessor, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny is being released on Netflix and select IMAX theaters without Lee or most of the original cast. Michelle Yeoh is the only major returning star, and legendary martial arts coordinator Yuen Woo-Ping steps into the director's chair. Although its creative team may be almost entirely new, fans of the original film are hoping that Sword of Destiny is at least a worthy successor.
The months ahead may still hold most of this year's anticipated films, but February has more than its fair share of memorable releases. With plenty of laughs, thrills and scares to be had, this month truly has something for everyone. Can Deadpool and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies take its offbeat source material to a larger audience? Will The Witch live up to its Sundance hype? Are Zoolander and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequels destined to live in their predecessors' shadow? We'll know the answers soon enough.
Once again, here are the 10 films to check out in February:
February 5: Hail, Caesar!, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
February 12: Deadpool, How to Be Single, Zoolander 2
Februuary 19: Race, The Witch
February 26: Gods of Egypt, Triple 9, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny