Big day out at the cinemas for Boxing Day
AUSTRALIANS are tipped to flock to cinemas today in what is expected to be one of the biggest Boxing Days in box office history.
Bumper crowds are expected largely because of the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first instalment of director Peter Jackson's new Hobbit trilogy.
The Hobbit is expected to boost box office sales just as Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy did 10 years ago.
"We're expecting it to be the biggest opening of the year," said Samantha Philp, national film promotions and partnership manager for Birch Carroll & Coyle Cinemas.
The three Lord of the Rings films still hold the top spots in Australia's Top 10 all-time Boxing Day results, according to the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia (MPDAA).
MPDAA general manager Lori Flekser said today's releases are expected to produce much stronger box office results than last year.
"The initial results in other markets and the previous success of The Lord of the Rings movies in Australia strongly suggest that The Hobbit will out-perform last year's No 1 movie, The Adventures of Tin Tin," she said.
Tom Hooper's acclaimed adaptation of stage musical Les Miserables, starring Australia's own Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe, is also expected to draw large numbers of cinema-goers.
"We've got a huge amount of sell-out sessions across the board for that, especially in Gold Class," said Ms Philp.
Ms Flekser said the box office results of the year to date have also been slightly better, overall, than 2011 despite a significant downturn in consumer spending.
"The year has been benefitting from a tremendous mix of commercial and highly entertaining movies and consumers continue to demonstrate strong support for the timeless and unique appeal of going to the cinema."
Also opening today are family comedies Wreck-It Ralph and Parental Guidance, the cinematography masterpiece Samsara, retiree comedy Quartet and indie film Sightseers.
Birch Carroll & Coyle has enjoyed a bumper year and expects to stay busy through the summer.
"When you've got things like The Hunger Games and The Avengers and the end of the Twilight era, 2012 has been fantastic," Ms Philp said.
"We've got high hopes for 2013."
2012 Boxing Day movies:
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Stars: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Cate Blanchett.
Running time: 166 minutes
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen.
Running time: 158 minutes
Stars: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch.
Running time: 92 minutes
Stars: Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, Marisa Tomei, Tom Everett Scott.
Running time: 105 minutes
Director: Ron Fricke
Running time: 99 minutes
Stars: Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Michael Gambon, Pauline Collins.
Running time: 95 minutes
Stars: Alice Low, Steve Oram.
Rating: MA 15+
Running time: 90 minutes