By Steven Zeitchik
5:11 PM PST, December 24, 2012
Moviegoers will choose between catchy show tunes and operatic violence on Christmas Day as new releases “Les Miserables” and “Django Unchained” square off at the box office.
The films will face competition from “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” which has continued to perform well after opening a little more than a week ago.
Also debuting Tuesday, but unlikely to take much business away from the other pictures, is the multi-generational comedy “Parental Guidance.”
Universal Pictures' “Les Miserables,” director Tom Hooper's star-studded adaptation of the Broadway hit, has the slight edge among all films this Christmas, with a predicted one-day take of $10 million to $11 million, according to those who have seen pre-release surveys. According to MovieTickets.com, the film has sold nearly twice as many advance tickets as “Sherlock Holmes” and nearly five times as many as “War Horse,” which both opened at this time in previous years.
Close on its heels, with estimates of a $10-million day,
is Weinstein Co.'s “Django Unchained,” Quentin Tarantino's $100-million-plus western revenge fantasy starring Jamie Foxx.
Tied for second or running a close third should be “The Hobbit,” Peter Jackson's latest J.R.R. Tolkien adaptation. The Bilbo Baggins adventure won the box-office crown last weekend, its second in release, with $36.7 million and has grossed nearly $150 million in the U.S.
Produced by British prestige company Working Title with an estimated budget of $60 million to $65 million, “Les Miserables” looks to capitalize on high awareness of the musical as well as an
intense publicity campaign.
PHOTOS: 'Django Unchained' - Quentin Tarantino, Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz
Starring Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, the film also has award hopes. Although it has received mixed reviews, “Les Miserables" has been nominated for best comedy-musical at the Golden Globes.
The R-rated “Django” follows 2009's “Inglourious Basterds” as director Tarantino's latest foray into period film, this time in a violent, slavery-era South, where Foxx's titular slave teams up with bounty hunter Christoph Waltz to rescue his wife from a devious plantation owner, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Like “Les Miserables,” “Django” clocks in at more than 21/2 hours, which reduces the number of times it can be shown each day.
“Parental Guidance,” featuring Billy Crystal and Bette Midler in returns to the big screen, is Fox's seasonal entry in the family comedy genre. But like Paramount's similarly spirited “The Guilt Trip,” the movie has generated low levels of awareness and interest among moviegoers, and is expected to gross just about $3 million on Christmas Day.
After more than a month in narrow release, David O. Russell's dramedy “Silver Linings Playbook” is nearly doubling to 745 theaters, where the awards contender starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence is expected to tally about $2 million on Christmas.
Other holdovers from the weekend, including Tom Cruise's “Jack Reacher” and the Judd Apatow-directed “This Is 40,” will look to the holiday to rebound from a soft start.
Also worth watching Tuesday will be two specialty releases, Kathryn Bigelow's controversial Osama bin Laden manhunt picture “Zero Dark Thirty” and Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or winner “Amour,” both of which performed well in limited release last weekend.
Christmas is generally a strong day for the box office, particularly in the afternoon as families make their way to the multiplex. The day was set to be even more crowded before Baz Luhrmann's “The Great Gatsby” was moved out of the holiday season and into the spring, while Sony Pictures shifted “Zero Dark Thirty” from a wide December release to a limited one.
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