The holiday season is usually a busy time at the box office, but this Christmas' openings have been particularly interesting, what with all the drama surrounding the Dec. 25 release of The Interview. Though that movie has been much more widely released than the hackers would have liked, there were two real winners this Christmas: Angelina Jolie's Unbroken and the screen adaptation of the hit musical Into The Woods.
I would have expected the Disney musical to outperform the World War II drama this Christmas, as it's lighter, more festive fare. The film version of the Stephen Sondheim musical features an all star cast including Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, and Johnny Depp.
However, though the race is tight, it looks like Angelina Jolie's Unbroken might be this holiday weekend's winner. The drama tells the true story of American prisoner of war Louis Zamperini and was directed by Angelina Jolie. The Hollywood Reporter anticipates that it will come out on top this weekend, earning around $30 million, which is on the high end of its anticipated earnings. Into The Woods is expected to come in a little behind Unbroken, but should still make around $30 million. Tim Burton's Big Eyes and The Gambler, starring Mark Wahlberg, were the other major releases this holiday.
Why did the dreary torture drama do better on the festive holiday than a musical romp through the woods? Into The Woods has actually performed better critically than Unbroken. Most critics have praised Woods as a funny and fresh take on the much explored fairy tale realm, while Unbroken has been criticized for being a little too dark to sit through.
Perhaps Angelina Jolie has enough pull to draw in millions of moviegoers, or perhaps we're still as interested in WWII dramas as ever. I think it probably has to do with the fact that children stay home on Christmas and will see Into The Woods later, while older families might have settled on Unbroken as a more broadly appealing narrative. Personally, it sounds like a little too much torture for my holiday tastes.