Dancing, Denzel and Darth Vader: 6 Holiday Movie Storylines to Follow

6:00 AM 11/23/2016

by Pamela McClintock

Ben Affleck, Brad Pitt and Will Smith all test their star power as THR breaks down the potential winners and losers of the final rush of 2016.

'Allied' and 'Collateral Beauty'
'Allied' and 'Collateral Beauty'
Courtesy of Paramount Pictures; Warner Bros. Entertainment

  • Animation Showdown!

    'Moana' & 'Sing'
    'Moana' & 'Sing'
    Courtesy of Disney; Universal Pictures

    It's a stealth attack: Over Thanksgiving weekend, Universal will sneak Sing — described as American Idol with farm animals — into 200 AMC theaters just as Disney opens its big holiday animated tentpole Moana. However, the Polynesian princess pic has a month to itself before Sing opens Dec. 21. Both should be huge.

  • Feel-Good Films Hope to Escape the Art House

    'La La Land' & 'Lion'
    'La La Land' & 'Lion'
    Courtesy of Lionsgate; Long Way Home Productions

    In 2010, eventual Oscar winner The King's Speech successfully migrated from indie theaters to the multiplex. This year, two contenders hope to do the same: The Weinstein Co.'s Lion (Nov. 25), starring Dev Patel as an Australian man seeking his Indian birth mother, and La La Land (Dec. 9), Lionsgate's whimsical musical starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.

  • The Space Race

    'Rogue One' & 'Hidden Figures'
    'Rogue One' & 'Hidden Figures'
    Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox; Jonathan Olley/©Lucasfilms

    Four films tackle outer space, albeit in different ways. Rogue One (Dec. 16) is followed by Sony's romance Passengers and STX's interplanetary-travel drama The Space Between Us (both Dec. 21). Based on early screenings, NASA pic Hidden Figures (Dec. 25) may be a hit.

  • Warning! Red Flags!

    'Assassin's Creed' & 'Rules Don't Apply'
    'Assassin's Creed' & 'Rules Don't Apply'
    Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox; Jonathan Olley/©Lucasfilms

    It's likely to be a tough holiday season for New Regency. Rules Don't Apply (Nov. 23), from Warren Beatty, may earn only $7 million over the five-day Thanksgiving holiday, while the long-delayed Assassin's Creed (Dec. 21), starring Michael Fassbender, is widely expected to fall flat with audiences. New Regency financed and produced both films.

  • Star-Driven and Auteur Gambles

    'Allied' & 'Collateral Beauty'
    'Allied' & 'Collateral Beauty'
    Courtesy of Paramount Pictures; Warner Bros. Entertainment

    Brad Pitt's star power post-Angelina Jolie will be tested when Paramount's Allied opens Nov. 23, while Warner Bros.' drama Collateral Beauty (Dec. 16) is banking on an A-list ensemble including Will Smith and Kate Winslet. Martin Scorsese's Silence (Dec. 23) is a big mystery.

  • Surviving the Christmas Crush

    'Fences' & '20th Century Women'
    'Fences' & '20th Century Women'
    Courtesy of Paramount Pictures; A24

    A dizzying number of awards contenders are opening Dec. 25, both wide and in limited release, including Mike Mills' 20th Century Women, Ben Affleck's Live by Night and foreign-language contender Toni Erdmann. That's on top of Denzel Washington's Fences, which goes wide.

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