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Holiday film season

Hollywood's Christmas binge

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GET YOUR FIX: Tintin, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and M:I - Ghost Protocol will release on December 21, while Steven Spielberg's War Horse is releasing on Christmas Day

Six Oscar-calibre directors. Nine movies (at least). And just one Christmas. It's going to be a hot and crowded holiday at the box office. After shuffling schedules, finishing final edits and kicking tires on the festival circuit, Hollywood is preparing for a holiday film season that will end with a spectacular collision of high-profile pictures.

There were four major studio releases on or around Christmas Day last year, and three the year before. But in the five days ending on December 25 - a Sunday, not the usual day for film debuts - five of the major studios are to release six movies with a total production and marketing cost approaching $1 billion, from directors who have 25 past Oscar nominations among them.
The binge starts on Wednesday, December 21, with three heavyweights: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, directed by David Fincher, from Sony Pictures;The Adventures Of Tintin, directed by Steven Spielberg, from Paramount Pictures;and Mission : Impossible - Ghost Protocol, directed by Brad Bird, also from Paramount. Two days later, 20th Century Fox weighs in with Cameron Crowe's We Bought A Zoo.

On Christmas Day, Spielberg is back, with War Horse, from Disney and Dream-Works, while Warner Brothers opens Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close, directed by Stephen Daldry.

After sizing up the crowd, the Weinstein Company decided recently to sidestep it with a December 30 opening for The Iron Lady, which stars Meryl Streep as the British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

"It's much, much heavier, " David Glasser, Weinstein's chief operating officer, said of the holiday roster this year.
Smaller films, or those with fewer credentials, will fill the end-of-year calendar as well. On December 23, FilmDistrict will open In The Land Of Blood And Honey, a Balkan war drama directed by Angelina Jolie, while IFC's Sundance Selects will release Pina, a documentary from Wim Wenders, a past Oscar nominee. On Christmas Day, Summit Entertainment will release a 3-D science-fiction thriller, The Darkest Hour.

The pileup promises rich viewing for moviegoers - and shares in theatre chains like Regal Entertainment Group and Cinemark Holdings have been rising - and could change the shape of an awards season that so far has found no clear front-runner among earlier releases.

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