Despite the presence of some high-profile franchise installments (Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, Underworld: Blood Wars), January kicked off 2017 with a typically slow start. Yet, in a twist befitting one of his own films, M. Night Shyamalan turned out to be the month's big winner with his horror-thriller Split -- which stars James McAvoy as a kidnapper with 23 different personalities -- raking in $40 million in its opening weekend, signaling a major comeback for the once-revered filmmaker.
As for February 2017, moviegoers looking for some of the most anticipated films of the year will finally get to see some of those releases heading to theaters, including a high-octane action thriller starring Keanu Reeves to the continuation of one of the surprising animated franchises in of the decade. The month brings a nice balance of franchise fare as well as intriguing original releases from versatile directors like Gore Verbinski and Zhang Yimou. Without any further delay, let's move into February and take a look at some of the films we'll be watching over the next few weeks.
Here are 10 films to check out in February 2017:
Rings (Release Date: February 3)
Twelve years have passed since The Ring Two underwhelmed at the box office, and with that film's disappointing performance, the franchise that started in 2002 with The Ring -- itself a remake of classic Japanese horror classic Ringu -- proved to be more of a one-off than a viable, long-running franchise. However, that isn't stopping Paramount and director F. Javier Gutiérrez (Before the Fall) from trying to jumpstart the series, even without star Naomi Watts onboard.
In Rings, a fresh batch of characters -- played by actors like Matilda Lutz, Alex Roe and Johnny Galecki -- encounter the deadly videotape. The footage we've seen so far indicates that this third entry could bring some new dimension to the premise, and it will be interesting to see how the film updates a premise that initially relied so heavily on the popularity of videotapes and physical media to reflect the age of YouTube and viral videos.
Check out the latest trailer for Rings.
The Space Between Us (Release Date: February 3)
In the last few years, films either set in or centering on the concept of space have seen a noticeable resurgence. Gravity, The Martian and Arrival all proved to be blockbuster hits and major awards contenders, using science fiction elements to explore various facets of isolationism and the human spirit. The Space Between Us looks to tread similar thematic terrain, filtered as it is through the unlikely love story between Gardner (Asa Butterfield) and Tulsa (Britt Robertson).
The story centers on a teen (Butterfield) who was born on Mars and follows his journey to Earth to meet the girl (Robertson) with whom he has cultivated an online friendship. Sparks fly, but the duo's love may be cut short when Gardner's body begins to reject Earth's atmosphere. We're not sure exactly how it all wraps up, but we're getting the vibe that The Space Between Us could be a sci-fi take on tearjerkers like The Fault in Our Stars.
Check out the latest trailer for The Space Between Us.
I Am Not Your Negro (Release Date: February 3)
This critically-praised documentary hits limited release this month and has been steadily building buzz since its premiere at last year's Toronto International Film Festival. Based on writer James Baldwin's unfinished manuscript Remember This House, the film examines the history of racism in the United States from the perspective of Baldwin's interactions with civil rights heroes like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Medgar Evers.
Armed with incredibly rich subject matter, I Am Not Your Negro looks to take a deep dive into the role racism has played in U.S. history. Director Raoul Peck's film -- which features narration by Samuel L. Jackson -- has already earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature, and if the film happens to be playing in a theater near you, it may be worth tracking down.
Check out the latest trailer for I Am Not Your Negro.
John Wick: Chapter Two (Release Date: February 10)
Despite Keanu Reeves' strong background as an action star (Speed, The Matrix), John Wick still took the world by surprise when it delivered a compelling, character-driven action extravaganza. Featuring some of the best action sequences in recent memory, the film served as an introduction to a mythology-rich world that fans couldn't wait to revisit.
Thankfully, the film brought in more than $86 million worldwide against a $20 million production budget. So John Wick: Chapter Two is nearly in theaters, having emerged as one of the most anticipated films of the year. Reeves is back, of course, as his titular hitman goes back to work, heading to Rome to assist a former associate. Laurence Fishburne also joins the cast, allowing the John Wick sequel to reunite the two stars of The Matrix.
Check out the latest trailer for John Wick: Chapter Two.
The LEGO Batman Movie (Release Date: February 10)
The very idea of a film based on LEGOs seemed ridiculous. Yet, against all odds, The LEGO Movie became a runaway success, among both moviegoers and critics. One of the most popular supporting players, however, was Will Arnett's arrogant, self-indulgent parody of Batman ("Darkness! No parents!"). So, once Warner Bros. decided to use the success of The LEGO Movie to kick off an expansive franchise, it made sense that The LEGO Batman Movie was among the projects greenlit.
With Arnett back voicing the Dark Knight, the film offers a refreshingly comedic take on the DC hero, whose last big-screen appearance was in the divisive Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Besides, with Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera and Rosario Dawson providing the voices for the Joker, Robin and Batgirl, the film has made strong choices across the board.
Check out the latest trailer for The LEGO Batman Movie.
A Cure for Wellness (Release Date: February 17)
Director Gore Verbinski may be best known for his work on the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, but the filmmaker has always been more versatile than those Disney adventures may indicate. Take, for instance, this psychological horror film, which centers on a young executive (Dane DeHaan) who gets wrapped up in a mysterious wellness center when he arrives to retrieve his boss.
In addition to an intriguing premise, A Cure for Wellness features a strong cast that also includes Jason Isaacs and Mia Goth as well as a particularly memorable trailer that highlights the eerie atmosphere and troubling questions surrounding the wellness spa on which the plot hinges. We don't know for sure if this will live up to the hype, but we're anxious to find out if it does.
Check out the latest trailer for A Cure for Wellness.
Fist Fight (Release Date: February 17)
Just the idea of tough guy Ice Cube facing off against Charlie Day already seems like enough of a foundation for a solid comedy. Add in the fact that both are high school teachers who make arrangements to settle the score during a round of good ol' fisticuffs, and you have the makings of what might be a genuine crowd-pleaser.
A loose remake of 1987 comedy Three O'Clock High, Fist Fight continues the tradition of Ice Cube comedies coming out early in the year, as Ride Along and its sequel did in 2014 and 2016. Without Kevin Hart's fanbase boosting box office numbers, Fist Fight might not kick off a new franchise, but it very well could prove to be the sleeper comedy hit of early 2017.
Check out the latest trailer for Fist Fight.
The Great Wall (Release Date: February 17)
One of several recent films suffering from a casting controversy regarding the whitewashing of Asian storytelling, The Great Wall stars Matt Damon as a member of a band of mercenaries searching for a mysterious black powder. However, he is confronted by the monstrous creatures that live on the other side of the titular Chinese landmark.
Legendary filmmaker Zhang Yimou directs this historical fiction action-adventure fantasy, and while early reaction to The Great Wall has been mixed, it features an international cast that also includes Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe and Andy Lau. With a reported production budget of $150 million, we're curious to see if the film serves up a satisfying monster movie and attracts North American audiences.
Check out the latest trailer for The Great Wall.
Get Out (Release Date: February 24)
Given Jordan Peele's comedic work with Keegan-Michael Key both on television and in last year's Keanu, the last thing fans might expect from Peele is a horror film. Although it does feature comedic elements, Get Out -- written and directed by Peele -- is very clearly looking to unnerve rather than elicit laughter from its audience.
The film follows interracial couple Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose (Allison Williams), as the former meets his girlfriend's parents for the first time. Before long, Chris notices something strange among the other black residents of the neighborhood. The film appears to be using horror elements to explore the subversive nature of race relations, and we couldn't be more excited to experience Peele's vision.
Check out the latest trailer for Get Out.
My Life as a Zucchini (Release Date: February 24)
This French-Swiss stop-motion animated film has already earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature, and though it's only getting a limited theatrical release in North America, you completists out there might wish to track it down director Claude Barras' first full-length animated feature at your local theater.
Earning critical acclaim, My Life as a Zucchini centers on a 9-year-old boy who finds himself in a foster home after his mother disappears. There he begins to find his place in the world and make some new friends -- including a kindly police officer -- who teach him the true meaning of home. A visually dazzling experience, this is one not to be missed by animation enthusiasts.
Check out the latest trailer for My Life as a Zucchini.
It may only be February, but 2017 is already unloading some pretty promising films on moviegoers. Though the months ahead will bring even more exciting releases, it's heartening to know that so many potentially strong films are hitting theaters in the next few weeks. Though franchise films like John Wick: Chapter Two and The LEGO Batman Movie feel like sure things, we're interested to see how some of the riskier films -- such as The Great Wall and Get Out -- perform at the box office.
Once again, here are the 10 films to check out in February:
February 3: Rings, The Space Between Us, I Am Not Your Negro
February 10: John Wick: Chapter Two, The LEGO Batman Movie
February 17: A Cure for Wellness, Fist Fight, The Great Wall
February 24: Get Out, My Life as a Zucchini