Disappointment was the theme at the box office this weekend, but the Christmas holiday is shaping to be far more fruitful. Two of the three new releases are pacing for very strong debut performances.

Big Christmas Day

Initially eyed for an opening day in the low teens, “Les Miserables” is now pacing to lead the Christmas Day box with $17-18 million, according to both Deadline and THR. While estimates are still rough at this point, the musical is clearly filling seats and will have no problem claiming the holiday with an impressive bow.

Not the family fare one might intuitively associate with a family holiday, “Django Unchained” is also looking at a strong debut, with estimates pointing towards a bow of about $14 million. Director Quentin Tarantino’s previous release “Inglourious Basterds” earned a similar $14.4 million on Friday, August 21, 2009, its first day at the box office.

With “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” claiming third place on Christmas (forecast at $10.8 million), new, family-skewing “Parental Guidance” was forced to settle for fourth. The PG comedy looks safe for $6-7 million, notes the Deadline trade.

“Jack Reacher” should deliver about $5 million for fifth place.

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