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Devil's Due, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Ride Along, The Nut Job
Fox, Paramount, Open Road, Universal
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New Movies: ‘Devil’s Due,’ ‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,’ ‘The Nut Job,’ ‘Ride Along’

Oscar nominations came out Thursday morning, with films like 'American Hustle' and '12 Years a Slave' leading the way. You can probably bet that none of this weekend's new releases will figure into next year's Oscars, but that doesn't mean there won't be something you like. The four films opening wide on Friday cover a wide range of genres and styles, a little something for everyone.

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Universal
Universal
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Weekend Box Office Report: ‘Lone Survivor’ is the Weekend’s Lone Victor

New releases have a habit of floundering in January, which tends to be one of Hollywood's biggest dumping grounds. Even this year's big January horror release, which is commonly a sure thing, floundered. What does tend to do well are the prestige pictures that opened late in the previous year (often in limited release) and finally expand in the new year, riding awards momentum to solid box office.

Of course, this is just a roundabout way of saying that Peter Berg's 'Lone Survivor' emerged from limited release this week to kick everyone's ass at the box office.

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The Legend of Hercules Review
Millennium Films
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‘The Legend of Hercules’ Review

In the late 1950s, American bodybuilder Steve Reeves somehow ended up in Italy and made a cheapo production of 'Hercules.' It spawned an avalanche of knockoff strongmen films -- some starring Reeves, some featuring a rather malleable new character named Maciste -- and are just wretched examples of boring cinema that, for whatever reason, I ended up seeing quite a bit of as a little kid. But to an 8-year-old back then, sub-Ray Harryhausen special effects and wafer-thin plots still managed to impress. Hey, it was a Sunday afternoon and a color TV.

It's easy to say “they don't make 'em like that anymore,” but the spirit of these garbage movies is alive and well in Renny Harlin's charmingly awful 'The Legend of Hercules.' Starring Kellan Lutz as a block of concrete that has to fake the classic British accent (even though Hercules is Greek), this is boring by-the-numbers dross from the artless Millennium Films, best known for 'The Expendables' films. It has maybe three good fight scenes and two moments that are so over-the-top bad you just have to laugh, and that makes for some undeniable entertainment. The best way to describe 'The Legend of Hercules' is as the fake movie that teenagers in movies go to see.

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january-movies
YouTube (3)
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2014 New Movie Releases

We're getting pumped about 2014's new movie releases, even though Hollywood is still celebrating (and awarding!) the best films of the past year.

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Hercules, Lone Survivor, Her
Lionsgate/Summit, Universal, Warner Bros.
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New Movies: ‘The Legend of Hercules,’ ‘Lone Survivor,’ ‘Her’

Two of these ('Lone Survivor,' 'Her') aren't technically opening this weekend, but they are expanding to many more theaters. That, along with the year's first Hercules flick (yup, there's another one coming in July) and the recent slew of high-quality holiday releases, make for a very crowded cineplex. 

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Paramount
Paramount
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Weekend Box Office Report: ‘Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones’ Gets ‘Frozen’ and Other Exciting Puns

Over the past few years, the 'Paranormal Activity' series has established itself as one of the most inexpensive and reliable horror franchises around. Produced for (non-literal) pennies, they've consistently opened strong at the box office, ensuring a fast and efficient turnaround. The latest film, 'Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones,' has already accomplished that goal, but it did so without grabbing the number one spot. Sure, people may love found footage demons, but it turns out that they love animated singing princesses more.

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Paramount
Paramount
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Weekend Box Office Report: ‘Anchorman 2′ Can’t Quite Catch ‘The Hobbit’

The return of Ron Burgundy and his news team has been positioned as a big, huge deal. 'Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues' has been marketed more than any major release this month and everyone just assumed that the film would effortlessly snag massive box office numbers thanks purely to saturation (on top of the fact that the original is quite beloved). So it must sting a little for Paramount to see the film open in second place and it must sting even more once they compare the opening numbers to the opening of the first film from 2004.

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Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.
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Weekend Box Office Report: ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ Rises to the Top

If it's set in Middle Earth, it's going to open at number one. That's common knowledge. The big question is always how big or how small it's going to open at number one. 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' did open at number one this weekend, but it's a number that's going to feel controversial for people who like to bicker about box office numbers. Is it good? Is it bad? Is it disappointing? Honestly, you could make a case for all of those.

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Relativity Media
Relativity Media
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Weekend Box Office Report: ‘Frozen’ Heats Up, ‘Catching Fire’ Cools Down and ‘Out of the Furnace’ Freezes

The weekend following a major holiday is always a little slow. The boost from vacationing moviegoers is gone, so everyone tends to take a major dip. Some films end up okay. Some die on the vine. This weekend saw two films weather the storm perfectly fine and one new release collapse on the starting line.

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Best Movies of 2013
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The 10 Best Movies of 2013

Each of these 2013 movies deserves to be seen at least once, or better yet added to a true movie aficionado’s Blu-Ray collection.

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Christian Bale, Out of the Furnace
Relativity
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New Movies: ‘Out of the Furnace,’ ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’

Two new dramas hit theaters this weekend, hoping to peel moviegoers away from the twin smashes currently ruling the box office, 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' and 'Frozen.'

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Disney
Disney
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Weekend Box Office Report: ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ and ‘Frozen’ Heat Up the Box Office

In one of the biggest holiday weekends of all time, the combined might of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' and 'Frozen' proved that yes, ladies can star in major blockbuster movies. We'll see if this lesson sticks (it won't), but between those two and the surprisingly female-friendly 'Thor: The Dark World,' this was a great weekend if you were looking for quality family entertainment that didn't treat its woman characters like crap.

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