The first couple months of 2023 at the movies have given us both good and bad news. The good: non-superhero fare–heck, non-franchise fare–has performed well at the box office. Of the top ten earners thus far, only one film (
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania) comes courtesy of Marvel, and only two other movies are sequels (Creed III and Missing.) Overall, the average gross per release in February was the highest we’ve seen since 2018. Who says theaters are dead?!
Now, the bad: original stories absent of capes and titles with Roman numerals can be stinkers, too. Aneesh Chaganty’s digital sleuthing thriller Missing takes what was a clever conceit in Searching and turns it into a tiresome, predictable headache. M. Night Shymalan’s latest faith-based thriller, Knock at the Cabin, is an unctuously earnest validation of conspiracy theorists’ wildest apparitions. The entire appeal of Cocaine Bear is that it might be so bad it’s good. Those films did not make it into our running Best Movies of 2023 list, but a few new releases did.