I’ve  always thought that maybe it wasn’t the best idea to release new films in January primarily because of the weather. But that wasn’t always the case.

Up until the late 1970s, studios would release major films during January without a  second thought. But with the advent of the blockbuster summer film season starting around the mid to late 70s, January gradually became more of a dumping ground for minor,  throwaway films that studios thought were losers or smaller budgeted films aimed at a particular audience, such as those 90s teen romance films like She’s All That.

That changed a few years ago when studios took a gamble and started to release bigger budgeted films aimed at wider mainstream audiences, such as The Book of Eli, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Cloverfield, The Devil Inside and Taken, which all opened to huge opening weekend grosses and went on to become big box office hits. Add the lack of competition from other movies  and,  all of the sudden, January looked like a really good month to release films. This month alone Universal has Ride Along and Paramount has Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and Labor Day, along with other studios films.

But it’s risky, and it all depends on the weather  One good sized storm can make the difference between a hit and a flop, and this weekend, half the country was slammed with a major record breaking snow storm, which literally affected a third of the population in the U.S., and wait until that “Arctic Vortex” of brutal cold temperatures hits the country as far as the Deep South later tonight. Look for the Sunday through Tuesday box office totals to drop to near zero. Might as well close up the theaters.

With all that, who wants to go out to see a movie? Well evidently some people did, but the weather clearly had an effect. The major new opening, Paramount’s Paranormal Activity; The Marked Ones came in second with $18 million which is much less that last year’s Paranormal Activity 4, which opened with $29 million.

But don't cry for the Marked Ones, which cost a very modest $5 million to produce, which means Paramount will make a hefty profit on the film. Also interesting is that this latest Paranormal Activity has a  mainly Latino cast to cash in on the fact that the series is extremely popular with Latino audiences, which begs the question -  will there ever be an all black cast one? 

Hey someone has to ask these questions.

Meanwhile, appropriately, Disney’s Frozen, which was actually beaten on Friday by The Marked Ones, roared back and was the No.1 film this weekend.

All other films dropped anywhere from 27% to 44%, with the biggest drop being for A Madea Christmas, with a 54% drop, falling out of the top 12 completely. But with a total so far of just over $50.4 million, the film, though it didn’t become the biggest grossing Madea ever, and nowhere near the lowest grossing film Tyler Perry has made, is still falling short of what was originally projected.  

1) Frozen BV $20,722,000 Total: $297,838,000 
2) Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones Par. $18,200,000 
3) The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug WB $16,250,000 Total: $229,634,000 
4) The Wolf of Wall Street Par. $13,400,000 Total: $63,295,000 
5) American Hustle Sony $13,200,000 Total: $88,700,000 
6) Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues Par. $11,100,000 Total: $109,180,000 
7) Saving Mr. Banks BV $9,057,000 Total: $59,320,000 
8) The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Fox $8,200,000 Total: $45,669,000 
9) The Hunger Games: Catching Fire LGF $7,400,000 Total: $407,488,000 
10) Grudge Match WB $5,410,000 Total: $24,920,000 
11) 47 Ronin Uni. $5,003,000 Total: $32,634,000  
12) Walking with Dinosaurs Fox $3,780,000 Total: $31,384,000