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December 21, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Pity the poor studio scheduler. Each one of them knew that if they had opened a movie a couple of weeks before The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was released — never mind the same weekend that it was — their movie would be killed. Their only alternative was to release theirs after The Hobbit‘s opening. The result is the confusing spectacle of eight films opening wide through Tuesday, Christmas Day, and a slew of others opening in limited release. Not only will they be competing against each other for the same ticket buyers — the audience for motion pictures remains virtually static from year to year — but they will still be competing against The Hobbit, which could lose 60 percent of its opening-weekend audience this time around and still wind up with around $35 million. Box office pundits doubt that any of the eight new films will be able to do that, although, they say, the musical Les Miserables or the Quentin Tarantino thriller Django Unchained have a chance of coming out on top when they open on Christmas Day. Two of the eight opened on Wednesday. One of them, a 3D revival of Disney/Pixar’s Monsters Inc., is clearly aimed at out-of-school youngsters. But with Christmas falling on a Tuesday, some schools opted to start their two-week winter vacation this week, and others, next week, thereby spreading ticket sales for the movie lightly over two weeks. Between now and Tuesday, analysts say, the film is unlikely to earn more than $8-10 million. Same goes for The Guilt Trip, starring Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen, which also opened on Wednesday, earning $1.03 million, and is expected to earn around $10-12 million over the five days. Another comedy, Judd Apatow’s This is 40, opening today (Friday) to mixed reviews (see separate item), may be hampered principally by its title. Middle-aged problems are something that Apatow’s youngish audience have yet to face, leaving him without most of the fan base that he has built up with his previous three films (although it could be argued that Funny People also dealt with mid-life crises). That leaves Jack Reacher, with Tom Cruise in the title role, as the only contender. But while he starred in last year’s holiday hit, Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, he is not likely to come anywhere close to repeating that success this year, according to most forecasters. Most are predicting that it will wind up with around $15 to $20 million over the five days.