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Hollywood’s Christmas gift? Movie openings galore

Hollywood usually doesn’t have any turf wars when it comes to big box office weekends or holidays, since typically studio execs try to space out films. However, there’s been a growing trend turning Christmas Day into Opening Day. It’s pretty well known that movies will open on the Friday before Christmas, followed by another couple of movies opening on Christmas Day. But now Christmas has become the spotlight for opening big-name contenders in 2013, pitting opening film against opening film for your theater watching dollars. Holiday season crowds still start the Friday before Christmas and last through the following Friday.

In 2011, the horror film “The Darkest Hours” was up against “War Horse,” also opening on Christmas against “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.” “We Bought a Zoo” joined the group opening that day looking for those holiday dollars because Christmas fell on a Sunday that year. The following year, there was a movie surge with openings on Christmas Day (a Tuesday). Parental guidance and R ratings faced off with “Django Unchained” and “Les Misérables” and the documentary “West of Memphis,” all opening Christmas Day.

This year, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is one of the shortest, and a lot of studios have pushed back their release dates. Unlike in previous years there are six — six — big films opening just on Christmas Day alone. We’re not talking cute little independent film going up against Hollywood contenders, either. There are seven big films with Leo facing Stiller facing Bieber with a little DeNiro and Stallone thrown into the mix. Here’s a guide to Christmas Day openings.

1. American Hustle
Directed by David O. Russell ("Silver Linings Playbook"), the film starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, and Jennifer Lawrence is about a con man and an FBI sting operation. It has already netted eight Golden Globe nominations, with palpable Oscar buzz.
2. The Wolf of Wall Street
Leonardo DiCaprio reunites with one of his favorite directors, Martin Scorsese, for this dark comedy take on Wall Street in the 1980s. Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey round out this crazy charismatic cast and limelight on debauchery.
3. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Ben Stiller steps back into the director's chair for the fifth time with designs on Oscar glory. This film is a remake of a 1947 classic which follows a daydreamer's return to the real world in order to change his life. Kristen Wiig and Sean Penn join Stiller on screen for this award show contender.
4. Justin Bieber's Believe
Can't stand any Oscar worthy films and just want to watch a movie for pure entertainment? Well, then Justin Bieber may be just what you crave? This documentary is a 3-D follow up to his 2011 doc "Never Say Never," which took us on his social media rise and now sheds new light on his life in the public eye.
5. Grudge Match
Throwing their hats into the ring are none other than Sly Stallone and Robert De Niro, facing off in the comedy-sports film we all saw coming. Now who doesn’t want to see two aging boxers getting back in the ring one last time for some laughs with Kevin Hart pulling his own punches?
6. 47 Ronin
Needing a little action in your life? Well, there's always the martial arts movements in "47 Ronin." This is Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut and he is almost the only non-Japanese star in the film. We know this one’s got to be good as it opened at the Toronto International Film Festival.
7. Limited releases
To finish off Christmas Day, some limited releases include Mark Wahlberg’s "Lone Survivor," a biographical story of the Seal Team 10’s failed "Operation Red Wings," along with Ralph Fiennes in a period piece "The Invisible Woman" about the untold story Charles Dickinson’s mistress and the unconventional love story between Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin in "Labor Day."