What do To Kill A Mockingbird, The Sting, The Sword in the Stone, The People vs. Larry Flynt and Catch Me If You Can all have in common? They all hit the theatres on Christmas Day. That’s right, Christmas Day is a big day for film releases and has been for a very long time. Over the past 20 years, it’s become even more so. It seems that many studios like to have two or three blockbusters or oscar bait hopefuls waiting in the wings until December 25th. Why is that? Well, my guess is that many folks who don’t usually go to the movies make the trek out the cinema during the holidays as a special treat…..and they usually take the whole family with them. By releasing a film on Christmas Day, there’s a good chance that when they make their yearly pilgrimage (usually between Christmas and New Year’s) they’ll remember this particular new release because it will be fresh in their memory. There’s also the folks that don’t celebrate Christmas……or just need to get away from their in-laws. What’s a better place to get away from all the Christmas festivities than a dark theatre? Regardless, Christmas Day is a big day for movie releases.

Last year saw the release of Django Unchained and Les Miserables. Both were huge box office successes and had pretty good DVD sales as well. So the Christmas Release is still a good way to get your film out there. This year, it appears that many studios are banking on this as we have 5 big, north america-wide releases coming out this year on Christmas Day. Not only is this the biggest number of films for wide release on December 25th in quite some time, it’s also the first time when this much variety has been put on display for one Christmas. Let’s take a quick rundown of the movies we got coming our way on Jesus’ birthday.

In the genre department, we have a pair of films to please both the old and the young. In The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a loose remake of the short story of same name, is directed by and stars Ben Stiller as a day dreamer and employee at Life Magazine tasked with safeguarding the picture for the cover of the last issue. When he misplaces the picture, some detective work using the negatives sends him on an epic journey to find the missing photo. It’s big, it’s grand and it’s got a soft-fantasy element. Great for the fogies in the family who hate all that magic mumbo-jumbo. But for those of us who like that magic front and center, 47 Ronin starring Keanu Reeves might be more to our liking. The 47 Ronin story has been told previously but this is a fantastical account where the group must overcome a host of mythical and supernatural challenges to defeat the person that killed their master. Action, Adventure, Dragons, this movie has it all. High fantasy to get you high on excitement.

But hey, there might be those of you out there looking for something with more meaty storytelling than flight of fancy. There’s a pair of movies to cover that….they both involve getting money any which way you can. American Hustle‘s the story of a pair of con artists who team up with a wild and crazy FBI Agent to infiltrate the seedy underbelly of the world of New Jersey powerbrokers who have connections to the mob. Did I lose you in that description because truth be told, I’m a little confused myself. In case you didn’t know, the film has been nominated for 7 Golden Globes. How could you not know? They mention it in every ad for the film. Congratulatons! 93 “reporters” in Europe like your movie. We get it. But all kidding aside, this is probably the film to see as director David O. Russell has had great success with his last two offerings, The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook and this picture reunites him with actors from both casts. Speaking of reuniting, Martin Scorsese is back with Leo DiCaprio heading up his new film, The Wolf of Wall Street. Based on the true story of stockbroker Jordan Belfort, we see one man’s rise to power in business while getting his hands dirty along the way. While I have enjoyed films involving both these men, I’ve never really liked a Scorsese film starring DiCaprio. I’m hoping this film changes my mind on the duo. There’s been a great deal of critical acclaim thrown at this movie. Hopefully it holds up.

I’m guessing there are still a few of you out there that are just looking for some mindless entertainment to distract you for 90 minutes. There is a film for you but I wouldn’t recommend it. The fifth and final big movie release is Grudge Match starring Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro. 30 years after their last match, a pair of rival boxers are coerced into getting in the ring one last time for the ultimate grudge match. This film has stupid written all over it…..which means it will probably be highly successful.

So that’s the landscape for tomorrow’s movie offerings. If you get a chance to see any of them, let us know what you thought of them in the comments.

If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!

American Hustle’s my pick for the movie to watch this December 25th.