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A Sunday Christmas Means A Change For Holiday Movies


It's weekends on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz.

The Christmas holidays almost always mean big money for Hollywood. The week between Christmas and New Year's Eve is traditionally the biggest box office week of the year. But this year, something slightly strange is going on.

Our movie critic Bob Mondello is here to tell us about it. Bob, thanks for being here.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: It's good to be here.

RAZ: First of all, Bob, what is the strange thing? What is this weird thing?

MONDELLO: Well, when was the last time you saw the movie open on a Sunday?

RAZ: Opening on Sunday.


RAZ: Some big movies are opening on Christmas Day, on Sunday - Spielberg's "War Horse," the science fiction epic "The Darkest Hour," and one more. Which one is it?

MONDELLO: It's a movie with high Oscar hopes, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close."

RAZ: Hit it.


THOMAS HORN: (as Oskar) I found something from every decade.

TOM HANKS: (as Thomas) Already?

You rock.

RAZ: Ooh, that sounds intense. Bob, why didn't these studios just release these films on Friday?

MONDELLO: Well, think about what you were doing on Friday - everybody is out shopping.

RAZ: No one's going to the movies.

MONDELLO: Right. And if you think about tonight, which would normally be the biggest night of the week, right? I mean..

RAZ: For movie going.

MONDELLO: ...for movie going. They're going to stop showing movies at 7 o'clock because no one goes on Christmas Eve. Everybody's wrapping presents, getting ready for Santa.

RAZ: And it makes sense that this week would be the biggest box office week traditionally because people are off of work and people are on vacation and taking time off so they can go to the movie theater. You've got the same problem - New Year's is also on a weekend.

MONDELLO: Exactly. On Saturday night, it's New Year's Eve, everybody's going to parties.

RAZ: No one's going to the movies.

MONDELLO: Exactly. And on the next morning, what's everybody doing? Nursing hangovers. It's two consecutive not-great weekends in what's supposed to be the biggest week of the year.

RAZ: So, basically, you're talking about a 10-day holiday season for the movie industry and it goes to...

MONDELLO: Getting reduced to eight days.

RAZ: Eight days. So, why open these movies at all?

MONDELLO: Well, you open on Sunday because, you know, think about it, if you have a picture like, let's say, "War Horse," you want your opening day to be a big day. You don't want it to be a slack day like a Friday or Saturday. So, if you open it on Sunday, at least you won't have to be reporting that "War Horse" was slow out of the opening gate.

RAZ: Because, of course, opening day is where you get the big sort of impact, right? That's when people measure how well a film is going to do...

MONDELLO: Right, and make headlines out of it in every newspaper of the country.

RAZ: So, this seems kind of like a suicide mission for these three films. And no one's going to see these movies on Christmas Day.

MONDELLO: Well, they'll go. They'll just go late. And I think what they're counting on is that these are pictures that would do well in the evening. So, it makes sense that they'll do OK. And then they're going to have a five-day stretch afterwards where they're going to make a lot of money.

RAZ: OK. The good news out of all of this for Hollywood is that next year Christmas lands on a better day.

MONDELLO: A Tuesday, which is perfect - a midweek day, a day that you don't screw up the weekend before, you don't screw up the weekend after and it actually stretches both ends of that, so that you end up with a 12-day holiday week.

RAZ: Twelve days of Christmas.

MONDELLO: Very nice.

RAZ: That's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED film critic Bob Mondello. Bob, thanks for coming in.

MONDELLO: It's always a pleasure.

RAZ: And happy holidays.

MONDELLO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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