Box Office Battlefield: Django Unchained, Les Misérables, and Parental Guidance

Box Office Battlefield Django Unchained Les Misérables

The weekend warriors for the week of Christmas 2012, includes Django Unchained, Les Misérables, and Parental Guidance. Box Office Battlefield is a recurring rundown of all the movie releases for the weekend. Every week, movie studios select candidates to enter the glorious battlefield for your hard earned dollars. Box Office Battlefield is here to help you decide which movie(s) will take priority over the others.

This past weekend, Bilbo held the top spot but fell more than 50% in ticket sales. All of the debut films (Jack Reacher, This is 40, The Guilt Trip, and Monsters, Inc. 3Dopened rather poorly with numbers lower than anticipated – especially for a Tom Cruise film and a new Judd Apatow picture.

It’s the last weekend before the new year. But before we can move past 2012 and into 2013, there are a few heavy hitters we must look out for. Can Tarantino or Hooper take down Mr. Jackson? Or perhaps Billy Crystal and Bette Midler can force enough nut shots in to have audiences rolling on the sticky floor? Ho ho ho, this is the Box Office Battlefield:

Django Unchained Title

Django Unchained [Releases Christmas Day]  (Rated R) – Directed by Quentin Tarantino. Starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, and Kerry Washington

Synopsis: With the help of his mentor, a slave-turned-bounty hunter sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.

Inglorious Basterds feels like ages ago, but the opening sequence of dialogue between Col. Hans Landa and Monsieur LaPadite is engrained in my mind, along with all of the other brilliant moments of screenwriting. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Django Unchained. The casting and the performances were spectacular to say the least, but Django didn’t wow me like Basterds. Despite it being on my most anticipated of the year, it isn’t Tarantino’s strongest, but it is definitely a good, fun time in the theater if you can endure it’s lengthy, almost 3-hour run time. SEE IT!

Les Miserables Title

Les Misérables [Releases Christmas Day]  (Rated PG-13) – Directed by Tom Hooper. Starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Samantha Barks, Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Helena Bonham Carter

Synopsis: In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after he breaks parole, agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s daughter, Cosette. The fateful decision changes their lives forever.

Everything about Les Misérables looks superb – the cast, cinematography, the singing, the art direction, everything. But will the story and performances be enough to draw in crowds being that it is a musical? This genre never draws in  big numbers nor crowds, and I want to believe Les Mis is one film the average movie goer should seek out, but it may be too overwhelmingly on-point to give audiences a chance to embrace it. IF YOU LOVE MUSICALS GO SEE IT, OBVIOUSLY; IF NOT, NETFLIX IT! (Check out the trailer if you are on the fence, that will truly help determine your decision; I say go.)

Parental Guidance Title

Parental Guidance [Releases Christmas Day] (Rated PG) – Directed by Andy Fickman. Starring Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, Marisa Tomei, and Tom Everett Scott

Synopsis: Artie and Diane agree to look after their three grandkids when their type-A helicopter parents need to leave town for work. Problems arise when the kids’ 21st-century behaviors collide with Artie and Diane’s old-school methods.

As much as I enjoy Billy Crystal, this story seems too cookie cutter compared to what This is 40 brought to modern family story-telling. Nut shots and Bette Midler are enough to tell me that this movie will be a stinker. Sure it’ll be cutesy, but nothing too remotely fresh to melt my heart this holiday season. Netflix It!

Promised Land Title

Promised Land [Limited Release] (Rated R) – Directed by Gus Van Sant. Starring Matt Damon, Frances McDormand, John Krasinski, and Hal Holbrook

Synopsis: A salesman for a natural gas company experiences life-changing events after arriving in a small town, where his corporation wants to tap into the available resources.

Director Gus Van Sant has a lot of filmography under his belt. It’s been four years since Milk – which was a pretty terrific film – but Promised Land doesn’t feel like a film worth remembering. This story doesn’t look as captivating as Good Will Hunting or Milk. It kind of reminds me of Thank You For Smoking, but without personality – a guy tries to lobby one idea but eventually realizes his company may be in the wrong. Promised Land won’t be a big contender for awards so I wouldn’t rush to find it with its limited release. RENT IT!

Movie synopses courtesy of

Box Office Battlefield is an ongoing column providing analysis of whether you should see, rent, or pass on movies that are about to release. All of my opinions are based on what I have or have not seen from previews, various marketing materials, or have heard via word of mouth.

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