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The 15 Best Movies Ever Dumped In The Dead Zone

The winter sucks, movie-wise. The first three months of the year have traditionally been used as a dumping ground for studio movies that weren't deemed of a high enough calibre to crack the summer or

The winter sucks, movie-wise. The first three months of the year have traditionally been used as a dumping ground for studio movies that weren't deemed of a high enough calibre to crack the summer or Christmas seasons.

Maybe they're just a little too offbeat for a large, general audience. Or maybe the film was just bad, and January was the best time to release for fear of major competition at any other time.

You won't see a lot of big box office releases in the dead winter months. With the exception of teens, movie goers don't watch a lot of films when the weather turns cold:  According to Slate Magazine, February ranks as the worst month for movie attendance. It also ranks as the month with the lowest-rated movies - with a Rotten Tomatoes average rating of just 45 out of 100. That's 3 points lower than second last, which is January.

But wait. If the studios only release their awful movies in winter, doesn't it follow that movie-goers wouldn't show up to watch them? Isn't the whole thing a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Despite its status as a movie dead zone, January to March have occasionally produced some notable successes over the years. These high quality films, perhaps under-estimated by their studios, took advantage of the season's lack of competition and teen-friendly atmosphere and rode it to box office and critical success. Heck, a few of these even won Oscars, forcing studios to reconsider their traditional feelings about the winter months. The following are the fifteen best 'dead zone' movies in cinematic history.

15 Chronicle (2012)

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This found-footage superhero fable pulled in more than $120 million worldwide despite an early February release.

14 Taken (2009)

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This one turned actor Liam Neeson into a perhaps unlikely action movie star with its breathless revenge tale.

13 Hostel (2005)

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12 Zodiac (2007)

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This moody mystery/thriller from David Fincher (Fight Club) remains one of the best films of that year or any year. Yet it received not one Oscar nomination, while movies like No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood cleaned up. That’s right – not even a technical nomination.

11 Waiting For Guffman (1997)

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10 The Wedding Singer (1998)

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Comedies often thrive in winter, when the competition is usually just serious, leftover Oscar hopefuls. And it’s not like an Adam Sandler movie is ever Oscar bait. Of course, it helped that this eighties romcom was one of the comic’s quieter, better efforts.  For one thing, it actually had a plot. And a rapping granny.

9 The Godfather (1972)

This classic was an accidental winter release. Originally, it was scheduled to hit theatres in time for Christmas. But the studio liked what they were seeing, so they allowed director Francis Ford Coppola more time to re-edit a much-longer version. It worked.

8 Silence of The Lambs (1991)

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7 Cloverfield (2008)

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A low budget, ‘found footage’ monster movie that became (briefly) the biggest film ever released in January with $40 million on its first weekend alone. Part of that was due to a clever viral campaign months in advance that included a teaser trailer with no title.

6 21 Jump Street (2012)

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March is a tricky month that's less predictable than January and February. In the case of this film adaptation, low expectations surrounded the project long before its March release. Too many bad film adaptations of old TV shows had poisoned moviegoers' minds and expectations.

5 The Hunger Games (2012)

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This film may have been bullet-proof, as it was based on a hugely popular teen book series. Still, there were no guarantees those bookish fans would show up in theaters in late March, especially with that teen-friendly 21 Jump Street also playing in theaters.

4 City of God (2003)

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3 Alice In Wonderland (2010)

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With Disney, director Tim Burton and Johnny Depp on board, they likely could have released this movie at any time of year and met guaranteed success. Still, the first week of March did give this one a leg up on the summer movies. And while critics weren't exactly wowed, audiences turned out in droves to watch this hallucinogenic tale of the rabbit, the mad hatter and the little girl.

2 Old School (2003)

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1 Taken 3 (opening January 9)

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Gosh. How many times can a guy get 'taken' till he learns better? At least thrice, apparently. Maybe the problem with Taken 2 was it was released in October, not January like the first one. The sequel will be taking on some Christmas Oscar fare (The Gambler/Selma/Inherent Vice) and a few low budget horror movies. But don't bet against Liam Neeson, who seems like Hollywood’s go-to winter star.

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The 15 Best Movies Ever Dumped In The Dead Zone