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December 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

There have been scattered releases throughout the week of the some half-dozen films that are opening over the Christmas holiday — but two films aren’t opening until Christmas Day itself, the 3D horror/sci-fi film The Darkest Hour and Steven Spielberg’s War Horse. It’s hard to figure out why those two films aren’t making it into theaters earlier. The Darkest Hour wasn’t even shown to critics and not many — if any at all — are likely to spend Christmas Day seeing it with the handful of Scrooges who are likely to want to spend the day of goodwill observance watching a horror flick. It’s expected to earn around $1-2 million despite playing in 2,324 theaters. But not putting War Horse into theaters until then seems even more perplexing. After all, another Spielberg movie, The Adventures of Tintin, opened on Wednesday. Reviews for War Horse are out today, and even the handful of negative ones include praise for Spielberg’s cinematic skill. Disney’s distribution chief, Dave Hollis, told the Los Angeles Times, “We picked Christmas because combined with Spielberg and the brand he represents, it signals this is something that is going to be special.” Still, most families are likely to take in only one movie over the weekend, and if they elect to do so on a Friday or Saturday, that would seem to leave War Horse struggling out of the gate. Analysts are predicting it will earn no more than $4 million. Of all the holiday releases, only one is opening today (Friday), the family film We Bought a Zoo, starring Matt Damon and directed by Cameron Crowe. While it is garnering respectable reviews, it is being added to a smorgasbord of family films that have also garnered respectable reviews. It’s expected to earn around $10 million over the weekend. The film that’s a sure bet to come out on top (no pun intended) is the thriller, Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, in which Tom Cruise appears to be scaling the Burj Khalifa, the tallest structure in the world. It widens to 3,448 theaters after opening last week primarily in a handful of IMAX locations. Box office pundits are forecasting that it will wind up with about $45-50 million. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which opened on Tuesday, is predicted to be the runner-up with around $25-30 million.