Box Office Preview: 'Guilt Trip,' 'Monsters 3D' Usher in Glut of Holiday Films

6:22 PM PST 12/18/2012 by Pamela McClintock
Paramount Pictures
"The Guilt Trip"

Between Wednesday and Christmas Day, no fewer than eight nationwide releases open; "Zero Dark Thirty," "Amour" and "The Impossible" are among the new titles at the specialty box office.

The Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen comedy The Guilt Trip and the 3D rerelease of Monsters, Inc. open in theaters Wednesday, ushering in the most crowded holiday box office in memory.

A total of eight studio films unspool between Wednesday and Christmas Day in a high-stakes gamble by Hollywood. Yet it could be Peter Jackson's holdover The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey that continues to top the chart after opening to $84.6 million over the weekend.

The specialty box office also sees several high-profile openings, including Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty and Michael Haneke's Amour, both of which open Wednesday in New York and Los Angeles. Tsunami drama The Impossible and David Chase's Not Fade Away open in select markets Friday.

VIDEO: 'The Guilt Trip' Trailer: Barbra Streisand Drives Seth Rogen Crazy

Generally the year-end holidays see five or six studio films compete for attention.

Guilt Trip, from Paramount and directed by Anne Fletcher, is only predicting a five-day opening in the $8 million to $10 million range. Normally, that would spell certain death for a studio comedy, but Christmas films usually enjoy the sort of multiples impossible at any time of year because of people being off of work and out of school.

It's not uncommon for a holiday title to earn six to eight times its opening (a multiple of four is usually considered great). Last year, We Bought a Zoo opened to $9.4 million but went on to cume $75.6 million, an 8.08 multiple.

And it's ideal for Christmas Day and New Year's Day to fall on a Tuesday, as they do this year, since it means many people will take New Year's week off as well. It's also ideal for Christmas Eve to fall on a Monday, since that's the quietest day of the week anyway.

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There's no denying that Guilt Trip has been soft in tracking. It's also receiving poor reviews. Paramount and Skydance Productions co-financed the $40 million road-trip comedy, which marks Streisand's first lead role since The Mirror Has Two Faces in 1996.

Disney and Pixar's Monsters, Inc. 3D is likely to beat Guilt Trip with a five-day debut in the mid-teens. The original Monsters, Inc. opened in 2001.

Friday sees three new movies enter the fray, including two more from Paramount, Tom Cruise starrer Jack Reacher and Andrew Adamson's Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away (it will only play in 800 theaters over the weekend, with two show times, before expanding everywhere on Christmas Day). The third film is Universal's comedy This Is 40, directed by Judd Apatow.

Final pre-release tracking will come in Thursday for the weekend.

The three Christmas Day releases are Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained, Tom Hooper's Les Miserables and the holiday season's third comedy, Parental Guidance, starring Billy Crystal, Bette Midler and Marisa Tomei.

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