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New in Theaters January 08: The Forest, The Revenant and The Masked Saint

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By Chris Kavan - 01/07/16 at 06:45 AM CT

The biggest news this weekend may not even come from the domestic box office. Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which has been collecting records left and right, will open in China and how it does in this market will go a long way to determine if it can take the worldwide record as it recently broke the domestic record. But on the home front we have a January horror film (which has been a pretty good month for the genre in the past) as well as the expansion of a major awards contender and another faith-based film looking to make a dent. Still, even with all this action, Star Wars should have little problem taking the top spot yet again.

THE REVENANT It has been a good limited run so far for Alejandro González Iñárritu latest film, the gritty frontier drama, The Revenant. A story about survival and revenge, star Leonardo DiCaprio has been getting some major attention for his role as a man left for dead following a grizzly attack, only to come back and vow to track down the men who left him behind. Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson and Will Poulter (among others) help round out the cast. If the accounts are trues, the film looks as gritty as it does because it was a bit of hell to shoot - especially in regards to the weather. But, hey, you have to give it your all every once in awhile - and maybe, just maybe, we'll see if it leads to some awards recognition. This has a chance to open decently - especially as Quentin Tarantino's Hateful Eight had a lower-than-expected opening. It may not quite be able to topples Star Wars, but it should open to some nice numbers.

THE FOREST January has been kind (for the most part) when it comes to horror films. Even ones that get eviscerated by critics and only lukewarm response from audiences, still tend to do pretty good. Thus we have The Forest starring Natalie Dormer. Based on a real location in Japan (Aokigahara - actually called the Suicide Forest) where people do go to commit suicide due to its connection to demons in Japanese mythology. I'm going to go out on a limb and say the filmmakers aren't going too deep on this one. I expect jump scares galore and hopefully some decent visuals. But the real reason this will probably be worth watching is Dormer, who has been in everything from Game of Thrones to The Hunger Games. Considering the PG-13 rating, she probably will keep her top on and considering the way the film is being marketed, she will also not get out of the forest alive. We'll see if audiences are in the mood for horror yet.

THE MASKED SAINT That leaves us with the feel-good, faith-based film The Masked Saint. Much like The Revenant, this is also based on a true story. Unlike The Revenant, I doubt it will even crack the top 10. The story follows a priest who, in order to support his community, risks his own identity by going back to his roots... as a wrestler. Perhaps the only claim to fame this film has is it is the last on-screen role for the late "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (though he has a few films in post-production). It has a few other recognizable names - Patrick McKenna, Scott Nichol and Diahann Carroll - but no one I would call a huge star by an stretch. This will draw a specific audience - a specific and probably not very large one. This isn't God's Not Dead or even War Room - if it breaks into the top 10 I would consider that a win.

It should be an interesting weekend if only to see where The Revenant opens and if Star Wars can have as good a weekend in China as it has here. I'll see you Sunday with the results


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