Universal moves Tom Hooper's 'Les Misérables' to December 25

Posted by · 9:15 am · September 18th, 2012

When Warner Bros. shuffled “The Great Gatsby” on to 2013, there was an opportunity for another holiday bow on December 25 opposite “Django Unchained.” I had been wondering if any of the big latter-year films were going to jump on it but it started to seem like everyone was comfortable, until today, when Universal announced that it would be pushing Tom Hooper’s “Les Misérables” two weeks to that date.

Meanwhile, one wonders whether the film could end up with the date all to itself (at least as far as films of this sort go). I keep wondering whether “Django Unchained,” which was still shooting up until last month, will be ready in time. It surely has to be, given the revenue potential (and necessity) for The Weinstein Company. But with Quentin Tarantino working with a new editor — Fred Raskin — after the untimely passing of long-time collaborator Sally Menke, it might not be as fluid as usual. Of course, Raskin worked alongside Menke on the “Kill Bill” films, so he’s not totally fresh, but you never can tell how these things will go.

That’s neither here nor there, though. There’s no real reason to think “Django” won’t make it (and after all, Tarantino has been editing during production), but the news here is Universal’s announcement. The move separates “Les Misérables” from Warner’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” which is sure to gobble up plenty of the pre-holiday box office. “Zero Dark Thirty,” meanwhile, is set for December 19, so this puts Hooper’s film, along with Tarantino’s, as the last out of the gate.

Anne Thompson shrewdly notes that films in this position are in the precarious spot of having to meet awards-giving bodies’ screening and voting deadlines. And then there’s the issue of making screeners, which is a massive process after the final print is delivered.

The film will be Hooper’s follow-up to 2010’s “The King’s Speech,” which took home Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay. On paper, its an awards bait film if there ever was one. But that first trailer that released some time back gave me a weird feeling. I actually defended Hooper’s often maligned aesthetic for “The King’s Speech.” But here it seems to take an epic and reduce it to claustrophobic visuals. Hopefully I’m wrong.

Speaking of all this, I recently had it confirmed to me that Hugh Jackman would be the film’s only lead for the purposes of campaigning. None of the ladies (Anne Hathaway, Samantha Barks) will be getting a misrepresented lead actress push, and Russell Crowe — a co-leading character by some peoples’ measure — will be pushed for Best Supporting Actor.

“Les Misérables” opens everywhere Christmas Day.

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