Does “Les Mis” move to Christmas Day affect its Oscar chances? – ANALYSIS

By Sean O’Connell The Christmas Day void left by Baz Luhrmann’s dearly departed “The Great Gatsby” didn’t stay empty for long. Universal, today, opted to move the release date of Tom Hooper’s highly anticipated “Les Miserables” back from Dec. 14 to Dec. 25, positioning the musical for an Oscar battle with a handful of other contenders.

As is noted in the Deadline story, Universal decided on the move after “Gatsby” and Ang Li’s “Life of Pi” moved off the Dec. 25 release date. But what’s also realized is that “Miserables” now joins a very crowded frame. Other films opening between Dec. 21 and the Christmas Day holiday include: Judd Apatow’s “This is 40,” Tom Cruise’s “Jack Reacher,” Seth Rogen’s “Guilt Trip,” Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty,” an upgraded “Monsters Inc.” and Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained.”

What “Les Mis” has going for it is that it appeals to a different audience than virtually every movie written above. But there’s going to come a point where oversaturation simply bleeds tickets away from one or two of these titles, and “Miserables” might lose a bit of luster at the box office on opening weekend.

However, the film can open on Christmas Day or tomorrow, and if it’s Best Picture worthy, we’re going to be talking about it. Does it help the film to go up against a number of heavy hitters during a typically busy Christmas frame? No. Will it damage the film’s Oscar campaign by jumping into this frazzled fray? Absolutely not. If Hooper’s film is as good as we believe it is going to be, “Les Miserables” will work its way into the Oscar conversation … no matter when Universal decides to release it.

Read more of our exclusive Awards coverage:
Our “Silver Linings Playbook” review
Ben Affleck’s “Argo” scores
Producer Harvey Weinstein
“Lawless” director John Hillcoat

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