Box Office: ‘Les Miserables’ and ‘Django Unchained’ are Christmas champs

Hollywood had a boffo Christmas day at the box office as three films grossed over $10 million.  The most impressive debut was from Universal Pictures’ “Les Miserables” which grossed an eye-popping $18.2 million.

The Tom Hooper-directed movie musical set an opening day and single day record for a musical.  Previously, the highest single day gross was “High School Musical 3: Senior Year’s” $16.9 million on Oct. 24, 2008.  Almost like a horror film, however, most stage musical adaptations tend to have their wide releases front loaded as long time fans head to the theaters in droves.  That likely means Universal won’t have a clear indication of how big a hit “Les Miz” is until Friday or Saturday.  In the meantime, they’ll celebrate an A cinemascore and one of the biggest opening days on Christmas ever.

Another highly anticipated debut was Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” which shot to no. 2 with $15 million.  The Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio flick earned rave reviews and a very good A- cinemascore with audiences.  The R-rated thriller is the clear no. 1 choice with men over the holiday frame and has an excellent shot at becoming Tarantino’s third $100 million plus grosser after “Inglorious Basterds” and  “Pulp Fiction.”

Dropping out of the top spot for the first time since its release on Dec. 14 is Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”  The Warner Bros. and MGM epic found another $11.3 million for $168.3 million in just 12 days.  Domestically, that’s significantly behind “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” which had found $222.2 million and “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” which had grossed $200 million  over the same period. “The Fellowship of the Ring” was slightly behind with $155.8 million.  Of course, all three pictures were released over nine years ago with overall cheaper ticket prices and without the benefit of higher 3D engagements.  Jackson, Warner Bros. and MGM will take solace in the impressive international grosses so far.

Having an unexpectedly positive opening in fourth was 20th Century Fox’s “Parental Guidance” starring Billy Crystal and Bette Midler.  The PG-rated family comedy found a niche with moviegoers and took in $6 million.  Considering its relatively low $30 million budget, if “Guidance” can rack up similar numbers over the Christmas to New Year’s Day frame it may have a solid double on its hands.

Fifth place went to Paramount Pictures’ “Jack Reacher” which took in another $5.3 million for $23.2 million in just five days. Paramount will be thrilled if the $60 million budgeted Tom Cruise thriller can equal its budget domestically and then hope to get into the black overseas.

Look for continuing box office updates over the entire holiday break on HitFix.