Only one film remains to be released as the year is fast coming to a close for Hollywood film studios. And it was a Merry Christmas at the box office, too.
Despite the violent nature of Quentin Tarantino's latest to the epic story of "Les Miserables," people went to see movies. Perhaps that whole getting together with family gets old as the day wears on.
OK, maybe people go to these as families. Either way, "Les Miserables" puts itself firmly in best picture buzz as it opened wide an hauled in $18 million. "Django Unchained" was next, on Christmas Day, with $15 million. Even "The Hobbit" stayed strong with $11.3 million. These are the one-day takes and that means the box office inches towards that record as the year closes out.
It was an impressive debut for "Les Miserables" as it was in fewer theaters but won the day. The advance tickets sales surely helped propel it past "Django Unchained." This sets up a nice weekend battle. That battle does not include "Promised Land" starring Matt Damon. The film is out in only 25 theaters.
Maybe a sidebar is needed for Tarantino's film. Despite the media drive for a call to action after the Sandy Hook shootings, plus the fervor of the gun control debate, people still, and will go see "Django Unchained." And they still are watching the gun-toting TV shows. Not to mention the cable shows like "Dexter," "Homeland" and the rest. All have violent themes and carnage, and most have plenty of gun action.
But, these reports deal with the business of show and not the politics of it, which is always there, lurking. As for "Django," it will be interesting to track the breakdown since Spike Lee has boycotted the film as being "disrespectful." On any other day, this would have made a bigger splash, but timing is everything. Truth is, not even with the mainstream media's attempt to shape the story, people still went - and will go this weekend.
This could be a year in which the best director Oscar and best picture are awarded to different films. It seems as the best picture favorite is not set in stone and it may be time to give another directing nod to Steven Spielberg. What this does is essentially allow for two best pictures, so to an extent. In the business, the cry when the film's director does not win, yet the film does, goes like this: "The movie didn't direct itself." An emotional gut reaction but the two awards do not have to go hand-in-hand.
Plus, it may he hard for many Academy members vote for Kathryn Bigelow again. She won for "The Hurt Locker." Yes, this happens and that win was not that long ago. For Spielberg, the wait has been longer, but he has two director awards. Now, Spielberg is not just any director, so handing him a third award would put him in rare air - where many think he should be. When Spielberg won for directing "Saving Private Ryan," the best picture went to "Shakespeare in Love," behind the marketing of Harvey Wienstein.
All that posturing may allow for a third possibility and thus, a different picture winner as well. When there are five nominees, always count two out. This is rarely a five-person race. It has grown into the second most important award of the night, outside of best picture.
One more item. While gazing into the crystal ball, here's a thought. The real reason Ben Affleck took his name out of consideration for John Kerry's Senate seat is he would rather have an Oscar as director. It may be a surprise to some, but not all Academy members like politics mixing with these award shows.