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Weekend Predictions: Christmas Wishes for Woods and Unbroken

December 23rd, 2014

Into the Woods poster

We have a short prediction column today detailing the three Christmas day wide releases, as well as the two bigger limited releases. Sadly, none of these five films are really living up to potential and Christmas Day could be rather weak at the box office. Then again, why should Christmas be any different than the past several months. 2014 got off to such a great start. Last Christmas was busier, but not particularly strong either, so at least 2014 won't lose too badly.

Into the Woods is the latest incarnation of the Stephen Sondheim musical. The film is a family-friendly musical opening on Christmas day, which should be enough to make it a hit. Its reviews are good, but not great, while the buzz is okay. On the high end, it might crack $10 million Christmas day, but I think $8 million is a safer bet.

Unbroken is the latest film directed by Angelina Jolie. Her first such movie, In the Land of Blood and Honey, didn't win over critics and was mostly ignored by moviegoers. At the beginning of the month, this film was earning some Oscar buzz. That buzz has ended, as its reviews are under 50% positive. Most critics don't think it is a bad movie, but they are complaining that it hits too many of the genre clichés to be truly effective. It should compete with Into the Woods earning $7 million during its opening day.

The Gambler is the third wide release of the day, but it is by far the weakest in terms of buzz. This is a remake the 1974 original, but its reviews are nowhere near as strong as its predecessor's reviews. Also, while it is opening in nearly 3,000 theaters, it likely won't match the other two new releases at the box office and will fail to crack the top 5 on Christmas day with $4 million.

There are also two limited releases opening on Christmas day, all of which were aiming for Oscar glory, but none of which will get there.

American Sniper stars Bradley Cooper and was directed by Clint Eastwood, so it has an incredible pedigree. Its reviews are good, but not great. Normally I wouldn't be bullish about its chances in limited release, but the holidays should give it the boost it needs, at least for a couple of weeks. I don't know if it will still be going strong by the time it expands wide January 16th.

Big Eyes is going to be remembered as another busted Oscar-bait movie. It is a true story of an artist, Amy Adams, whose husband, Christoph Waltz, took credit for her work. Its not a bad movie; in fact, its reviews are better than either of the two wide releases or any of the films currently in the top five. However, that's probably not enough to thrive in limited release.

There is one other film of note, Selma, which is starting its Oscar-qualifying run on Christmas day. Unlike every other film on this list, its reviews are Oscar-worthy and I suspect it will lead the way on the Per Theater Chart over the weekend.


Filed under: Weekend Preview, Big Eyes, Selma, Into the Woods, Unbroken, American Sniper, The Gambler, Angelina Jolie Pitt, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Clint Eastwood, Christoph Waltz, Stephen Sondheim