Christmas box-office haul paces Hollywood for record year
By Eric Kelsey
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A strong Christmas-day box office performance by musical "Les Miserables" and western "Django Unchained" put Hollywood on pace to set an all-time box office record with $10.8 billion in annual revenue, box-office tracker Hollywood.com said on Wednesday.
Universal Pictures' star-studded "Les Miserables" took in a weekday Christmas record of $18.2 million in the United States and Canada when it opened on Tuesday, according to studio estimates of weekday ticket sales.
Quentin Tarantino's spaghetti western "Django Unchained," starring Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio, hauled nearly $15 million for The Weinstein Co.
Studios "are definitely on the road to a record year with $10.8 billion expected (up 6 percent over last year and beating the previous record of $10.6 billion in 2009)," Hollywood.com analyst Paul Dergarabedian told Reuters in an email, adding that the number of tickets sold should climb 6 percent from 2011 to 1.36 billion.
Dergarabedian credits a successful marketing year for studios as a chief reason for the projected box-office record, as well as spring and summer smashes "The Hunger Games" and "The Avengers" helping boost revenue.
"It was not just the fact that most of the movies delivered, it was the timing of their release dates and the marketing was obviously effective as well with social media continuing to provide an outlet for the movie-going peer group to talk about their favorite flicks," Dergarabedian said.
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," based on the J.R.R. Tolkein classic fantasy novel, brought in $11.4 million on Christmas day after ruling the box office with nearly $37 million in sales over the weekend.
Billy Crystal family film "Parental Guidance" debuted in fourth place with about $6.4 million in Christmas sales while Tom Cruise's "Jack Reacher," which featured author Lee Child's character in an investigation into a sniper shooting, was fifth with some $5.3 million.
"The Hobbit" was distributed by Time Warner Inc's Warner Bros. Studio. News Corp's 20th Century Fox released "Parental Guidance" and Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom, released "Jack Reacher." Universal Pictures is owned by Comcast Corp.
(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Edited by Ronald Grover and Andrew Hay)
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