December 7th - 9th - This first weekend in December has already passed in case you didn't get the memo, but if you are wondering what came out, there was only one new release and that was Playing For Keeps. At first glance, you might think this is a movie that would've done better than in did. It only earned $5.7M which was only good enough for sixth place. Instead, people spent their money catching up on the November holdovers that carried November 2012 to the record books as the highest grossing November ever. After three weeks on top of the Box Office, Twilight fell down to third as Skyfall jumped back on top. Skyfall is by far the highest grossing Bond movie ever, although not the most attended. Adjusted for inflation it is currently number four behind Thunderball, Goldfinger, and You Only Live Twice. Dreamworks flop Rise of the Guardians rose to second place this weekend. Now I say flop not because of reviews (those were decent) but because it was the worst opening for a Dreamworks animated movie since 2006's Flushed Away. It also is in jeopardy of breaking Dreamworks Animation's 11 movie streak of $100M+. Also finishing ahead of playing for keeps is the two likely Oscar nominees Life of Pi and Lincoln as great word of mouth has helped those two movies hold really well. Now in talking about the actual movie in question, Playing For Keeps, it is a star studded romantic comedy with Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Dennis Quaid, Uma Thurman, and Catherine Zeta-Jones. But no matter how many stars you have, you need a good script and a smart movie that has good advertising and it looks like Playing For Keeps has none of those as it is currently at a pathetic 3% on RottenTomatoes and 5.2 in IMDb.
December 14th - 16th - It is finally here! The movie that many people have been waiting for all year to see. That is of course The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. By the time you actually read this, many of you will have already seen it because millions of people are in line as I am typing right now. The Hobbit is sure to perform fantastically and only needs to beat $77M to beat the current December record for opening weekend. Now the Lord of the Rings movies were never ones to post Harry Potter / Twilight numbers in opening weekend, but they always held well and went over $300M, which is what the Hobbit should do. Now the Lord of the Rings movies were praised all around by critics, fans, and oscars and so far the Hobbit is not following that trend. The questions stem from an interesting decision to split the book into three movies, when it really only needed two at most and the reaction is split so far as to how that is turning out. But that won't stop crowds from swarming to theaters to see it.
December 21st - 23rd - This is the weekend where things get extremely crowded. Five nationwide releases hit theaters in an attempt to try to draw in crowds the weekend before Christmas. All five of them will be really hard pressed to dethrone The Hobbit from the top of the box office, but in battling against each other, Jack Reacher has the best chance to win out amongst the new releases. Jack Reacher is a movie based on a book series written by Lee Grant. There are 17 books so far and this movie is going to be based on book number seven. The movie stars Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher and what it is is essentially a Jason Bourne or James Bond like series with Reacher being the hardcore action character. It is certain to satisfy the male crowd and if it does well, who knows how far they will take the series on the big screen, but I'm sure this won't be the only one. Opening up on Wednesday the 19th is yet another of Disney's 3D re-releases Monster's Inc. Right after Lion King was a huge hit, Disney quickly announced four more and this is number three. The overall gross for these 3D re-releases by Disney has gone down each time as Finding Nemo this year only opened to $40M, which was surprisingly less than Beauty and the Beast's underwhelming performance. Now Monsters Inc is timed kindly nicely as Monsters University is set to come out next summer, so it could do better than the previous two, but it could also get easily lost in the very crowded Christmas season. Next up is a pair of comedies, the first being the stronger R-rated comedy This is 40. It's advertised as the sort-of-sequel to Knocked Up and that describes it pretty well. It follows the life of Pete and Debbie (Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann) a few years after the events of Knocked Up. Now Knocked Up opened to $30M back in the Summer of 2007 on its way to $150M, which is an impressive feat for an R-rated comedy. If This is 40 could match those numbers that would be very impressive, but it probably won't. However, it could easily compete Jack Reacher and Monster's Inc for the best new release of the week. The other comedy is Seth Rogan and Barbara Streisand's movie The Guilt Trip. It is a lighter PG-13, so it will attract a slightly different crowd than This is 40, but I imagine it will get overlooked this Christmas season and not make much of a dent. The last movie to open up in wide release also won't make much of a dent, partially because it is only playing in 800 theaters. That would be Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away. This is a concert movie that actually is directed by Andrew Adamson and has the help of executive producer James Cameron. Cirque Du Soleil started in 1984 in Canada and have been touring ever since and this is their first shot at a movie. Lastly, there are two significant movies coming out in limited release this weekend in order to have their names officially submitted for the Oscars. Both are likely to win big in terms of nominations at the very least. I will talk about them later when they get their wide release, but to make you aware, they are Zero Dark Thirty and Amour.
December 25th - 30th - Whew! That last weekend was quite the chore and you may have to take a quick breather before moving on. You'll notice that I put a wider margin of dates for this weekend, mainly because there are three nationwide releases and they have all wisely decided to open up on Christmas Day, which is a Tuesday and gives them the whole week and a weekend to perform well. Now the Hobbit will once again lead a whole slew of holdovers coming into Christmas and it could very well still keep ahead after all is said and done, but it will get some stiff competition from a few newcomers this weekend. The biggest threat to take over will certainly be another movie that has been highly anticipated for quite some time now and that is Les Miserables. Les Mis is widely considered one of the most popular musicals and is based originally off the novel by Victor Hugo in the 1800's. It has been turned into a movie on a few different occasions, most notably before this one being in 1998 starring Liam Neesen and Geoffery Rush among others. That version was strictly movie with no musical while this new one will be a full fledged musical. So much so that the music is all sung on set and none of it coming from prerecorded stuff. It has quite the lineup of actors which includes Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Anne Hathaway and should get a good share of Oscar nominations. Competing with Les Mis will be Django Unchained. This movie is director/writer Quentin Tarantino's latest work of art and while it took until just a week ago to officially give it the R-rating, that shouldn't be a surprise knowing Tarantino's history. With that in mind it will be quite the hardcore Western drama and if it follows the pattern Tarantino's last movie it could easily wind up with over $30M on its opening weekend and even steal the weekend away. Award buzz will also help it's case as it has a lot of Oscar buzz surrounding it and just got nominated for Golden Globe for Best Picture. With all the competition this week, the last nationwide release may be the one to get shafted and that is Billy Crystal's family comedy Parental Guidance. It fittingly has the PG rating to go along with that title, which means I will be expected the sequel Parental Guidance: Some Material Not Suitable for Children Under Age 13 followed by the third movie Restricted. Joking aside, this will attempt to win over some family audiences on Christmas as it is about a set of grandparents asked to tend their three grandchildren. On a final note, one more movie will come out in limited release this weekend - a weekend before it's nationwide expansion - in order to submit itself for Oscar awards. This movie will be Matt Damon's Promised Land. I will speak of it next month.