With just under one month left before Tom Hooper's anticipated adaptation of Les Misérables hits theaters, buzz is already building in a big way thanks to critical praise and plenty of Oscar talk. It's becoming clear that the Universal release is destined for serious box office success.
Studios always push adult-driven Oscar fare at the end of any given year. Back in 2010, this strategy paid off big time. Despite an overall declining market at the time (caused by a mini-exodus of younger moviegoers from theaters), the end of 2010 and early 2011 saw breakout performances from not just one but three adult-skewing films. The King's Speech - Best Picture winner for the year - hauled in $139 million, while True Grit ($171 million) and Black Swan ($107 million) similarly rode excellent word of mouth and a slew (each) of Oscar nods on their way to becoming a trifecta of late holiday/early winter mini-blockbusters.
Now, Hollywood is hoping for a similar phenomenon to occur again in 2012 and early 2013. While films like Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty, Jack Reacher and This Is 40 will be gunning for the older crowds starting at the end of December, the anchor of the post-Hobbit market in December and January may arguably be Les Misérables. Tom Hooper's directorial follow-up to The King's Speech is already generating serious Oscar buzz for virtually every category the flick is eligible for, and the online social media activity is there to back it up.
Most importantly, however, is the fact that general audiences appear to be more interested in the flick than recent musicals such as 2009's Nine and 2008's Australia. In fact, 99 percent of over 35,000 Flixster users are anticipating the film. That's a noticeably high statistic for a musical that's over four weeks out from release.
Between November 21 and 25, Les Misérables tallied a whopping 6,721 tweets and already boasts a total of 557,000+ Facebook fans. Through the same 5-day point in their release cycles, here's how 2010's trifecta compared on Twitter one month away from their wide releases:
Les Misérables: 6,721 tweets (13.4 to 1 positive-to-negative ratio)
Black Swan: 2,309 tweets (4.48 to 1)
The King's Speech: 1,477 tweets (41.8 to 1)
True Grit: 901 tweets (23.4 to 1)
Note: We're comparing Black Swan and The King's Speech by using their dates of wide release (December 17 and December 25, 2010, respectively).
We can expect a lot more chatter over the next few weeks as Les Misérables continues to build its box office and Oscar cases.
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Alex Edghill contributed to this report.