A strong slate of films hits theatres during the heart of the holidays. There will have to be at least one box office casualty.

Crowded Christmas Day

on December 16, 2008 by Phil Contrino

Moviegoers will have a lot of options during this holiday season.

In fact, so many films are opening on Christmas Day that they all can't possibly be box office winners. There will have to be some casualties.


Bedtime Stories, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Marley and Me, The Spirit and Valkyrie are all opening wide that day. In addition, Oscar heavyweights such as Frost/Nixon, Doubt, The Reader and Gran Torino will all be expanding. As if that wasn't enough, Last Chance Harvey and Waltz with Bashir both open in limited release. Oh, and throw Revolutionary Road into the mix because it opens the day after Christmas.

Some of the films obviously look better on paper than others.

Unless he's venturing into dramatic territory, Adam Sandler's films consistently gross $100 million domestically. The fact that Bedtime Stories has fantasy elements will only help its appeal among younger audiences. Stories could easily be the first choice of lucrative family audiences.

Marley and Me will also appeal to family audiences. Plus, the fact that it is based on a best-selling novel means that it comes with a built-in audience.

Mature audiences and the arthouse crowds will face a much more difficult choice.

Director David Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin will be a strong draw thanks to Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, but its long running time will certainly hurt it.

The Spirit will appeal to the same crowd that supported Sin City and 300. Yet with such stiff competition in the mix its hard to imagine that Spirit will come even remotely close to 300 's $210.6 million domestic haul. It may have to settle for something closer to $30-$40 million.

Valkyrie may end up being one of the biggest casualties. Despite boasting a strong advertising campaign as of late, the film has been plagued by negative buzz. Even though audiences laughed at Valkyrie -star Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder they may not be entirely ready to see him in such a serious role after his numerous publicity disasters.

Last Chance Harvey and Waltz with Bashir will certainly find it difficult to gain the kind of early momentum that is so crucial when a film is slowly unveiled to the public.

Revolutionary Road is going to be a strong choice for adults. Still, it's going to have to compete with the fact that a good portion of the country will finally have the opportunity to see Frost/Nixon, Gran Torino, Doubt and The Reader.

It's also worth taking into consideration that all of the films will have to face two potentially strong holdovers that are opening this coming weekend, Seven Pounds and Yes Man. Will Smith and Jim Carrey are strong forces at the box office and their films won't go down without a fight.

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