Wowzer for all three of these box office stories. The first, Les Miserables hits $18 mil for its opening. That makes it the second highest opener on Christmas, behind Sherlock Holmes and the highest grossing opener for a musical ever. Django Unchained, in more theaters, came out with less of a take, at $15 million.  But Les Mis really had the Must-See thing in its favor, especially over the Christmas holiday. Zero Dark Thirty is doing insane per theater numbers, $82 thou per theater average last weekend and is continually averaging around $23 thou every day.  It’s only in a few theaters now.

And Lincoln astonishes at $120 million. This, for a supposedly talky movie about ideas?  That’s fairly alarming in all respects, to me anyway.

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  • Terometer

    “That’s fairly alarming in all respects, to me anyway.”

    That “to me anyway” is kind of sad, especially during Christmas.
    The oscar wind is shifting.

  • Lynne

    Les Mis will be expanded!

  • Django’s estimate is just as impressive as Les Mis’, considering the predictions of most forecasters, and the massive buzz around Les Mis prior to release. Zero Dark Thirty is doing very good business, yes – perhaps not HUGE as the title suggests, but very good indeed.

  • Leeland

    A 3 hour hard R film made 15 million on Xmas day. That is outstanding.

  • Chris

    With the Great reviews and Woe of mouth and now big boxoffice I think Tarantino has got the 5th slot for director.

  • Tony

    That is great for Les but Outstanding for Django. A hard R Epic making that much on Xmas day is great. I think Tarantino has took the directing nod away from Tom. Django has way better reviews and looks to be Tarantino biggest hit.

  • Thirty zero dark

    We will not know anything until DGA but I half agree Tarantino is looking good right now. 80 on Metacritic and 90 on Rt and now a big opening day. Less also did great.

  • Brian

    Lol at the people who thought the shooting at Sandy would hurt Django. Did you really think people would mis one of the best reviewed films of the year something that had nothing to do with the movie. Great opening for Django and Les.

  • Lynne

    Les Mis is going to do damage overseas!

  • Sasha Stone

    Les Mis is going to do damage overseas!

    No doubt.

  • Django

    I am more impressed with Django. Looks like Tarantino has his biggest hit.

  • Dean

    So Django only made 3 million less than Les Mis despite be three hours long and a hard R rated. That is great.

  • steve50

    I’m certain that most of that 3M difference were people (like me) who simply chose Les Mis because it was more suitable for he holidays. That Django did so well suggests that its trajectory will be up, sharply. Less likely for Les Mis.

  • Cox

    I agree. Les is more of a Xmas movie donthe fact that Django did only 3 million is outstanding. Looks like it is indeed living up to the hype.

  • I’m really impressed with DJANGO UNCHAINED. Everytime I expect an R rated film to do well it doesn’t. This is just great. I just got home from it and it was nearly my new favorite. So I hope it can do damage on this Oscar race, since most of my other favorites bit the dust.

  • Lynne

    Reports are saying, Les Mis will be expanding next weekend! It was a mistake not being in over 3K theaters! This film would have been over the 20 million mark!

  • Jerry

    Django broke the record for highest Christmas Day R-rated film opening.

    "Universal's star-studded musical and the Weinstein Company's R-rated slave-era Western posted the second- and third-best Christmas openings ever. They trailed only 2009's "Sherlock Holmes," which benefited from a Friday debut. The "Django" opening is the highest of all time for an R-rated movie on Christmas, easily topping the $10.2 million put up by "Ali" in 2001."

  • Jerry

    The only disappointment at the box-office right now is THE IMPOSSIBLE. With all the celebrity endorsements I was expecting it to see a surge in business.

  • Harmonica

    ” Django Unchained, in more theaters, came out with less of a take, at $15 million. ”

    Really unfair to single out these three films and diminish Django’s opening due to having more screens. Yeah, there were more theaters playing Tarantino’s film, but it was still a hard R, slavery themed drama. And numbers kept increasing for the film, first estimates had it taking in U$10M. To have the third biggest Xmas Day opening pitted against one of the most popular Broadway musicals of all time is pretty amazing.

  • representDLV

    But Les Mis is not really “pitted against” Django. They are completely different movies aimed at different audiences. They really aren’t competing for the same dollars.

  • Tye-Grr

    ^I completely agree with you Harmonica.

  • Bryce Forestieri

    Still wanna see what LES MIZ does after “it expands”…

    And damn for LINCOLN LOL!, goddamn teachers must be still shoving it down kids’ throats all over America!

    As many people already said, what really impressed me is how well DJANGO UNCHAINED did. Wowzer!

  • amy

    It’s all about the demo. Les Mis did amazing considering all the males in my group refuse to go see a musical – let alone a musical with all singing and no dialogue. They would have all gone to watch Django.

  • numil

    What about Silver Linings Playbook? It expanded. It’s supposed to be a feel-good movie. It stars Jennifer Lawrence, supposedly a new force at the box office. But it seems that it can’t connect to audiences. What do you think is the problem here?

  • Jerry

    Silver Linings Playbook came out the same weekend as Anna Karenina (7 weeks ago) they slowly expanded together but SLP now has DOUBLED the box-office of AK making $20 Million to AK’s $10 Million while playing in only 370 theaters. That is a wonderful box-office that other small budgetted films would envy.

    What audience isn’t it connecting to? By the end of it’s run it will triple it’s $21 Million budget. Other small films like Rust and Bone, The Sessions, Hitchcock, even The Impossible wish they were making SLP domestic box-office. Most Indie films make less than $5 Million their entire run.

  • Jerry

    Also checking yesterday’s SLP box-office, they have doubled the theater count and got an 185% box-office increase. All signs of success. If it wasn’t connecting to an audience the increase in theaters would have gotten them a less than 100% result but they got close to 200% instead.

  • John

    Yeah the only demographics sharing Les Miserables and Django are us nuts who follow the Oscars, lol.

  • This Is 40 had an 188.5% increase from Monday. And it had the same theater count both days.

    SLP is “connecting” with audiences if it’s making $4M/weekend a few weekend from now.

    Right now, considering the money and time being pumped into it, SLP is in box-office purgatory. It’ll make over 1.5 times its budget, which is good, but there’s no indicators that it will be a runaway hit.

  • Alboone

    The real story of the season is Lincoln. 120 million? A historical drama about the process of passing legislation? Amazing!

    P.S. Django was off the charts great! A bit uneven at times, but boy does that ending soar to mythic awesomeness. Sam Jackson has to be in the conversation for best supporting actor.

  • Gez

    Overall, Django’s opening day is more impressive than Les Mis – thanks to the fact that its a violent R rated film. Yet both will be a little frontloaded as both have a significant built in audience.

    But Sasha is right in being in awe of all the ‘quality’ films doing so well this year.

    numil – Silver Linings was only expanded to 700 or so theaters. Its doing well in limited release. However, the Weinsteins really drop the ball on this film. They should have expanded it in early December when there was a Box Office wasteland between Thanksgiving and The Hobbit. I guess they think January will be better due to the lack of competition (all its competitors are either R rated or action/violent films) and the fact that it can benefit from nominations. Still I think they waited too long.

  • Tengo

    I agree with Harmonica. I might be reading too much into it, but there seems to be some bias against Django in this article, as its debut is just as impressive, if not more, than Les Mis. It’s an original, hard R, slavery themed western for christ sake. The fact that it made only 3 mil less than something as well established as Les Mis is pretty phenomenal.

  • Pj

    I want some of what Vince is smoking. SLP increased 185% and only playing in 745 theaters after 7 weeks in release and this guy is trying to diminish by comparing it to This is 40, which is in it’s 2nd week of release and playing in 2,167 more theaters? Really? How are those 2 movies in anyway comparable? SLP had the 6th best PTA in the top 10. And it’s been out for 7 weeks. Sorry for rough tone but can’t sit back and let snide amateur box office analysis slip by.

  • rufussondheim

    I don’t know where the 371 theaters that SLP was playing are. Were they evenly distributed around the country, or were they mostly in a few major markets? When someone can answer the question, I will give the definitive answer.

    But right now, I think the BO for SLP is unrefreshingly unspectacular.

  • Sasha Stone

    The real story of the season is Lincoln. 120 million? A historical drama about the process of passing legislation? Amazing!


  • Sasha Stone

    Yeah the only demographics sharing Les Miserables and Django are us nuts who follow the Oscars, lol.

    Les Mis will eventually have a much more narrow fan base than Django, which will appeal more broadly.

  • PJ > Nothing snide in my tone. Just sticking to the facts. As far as amateur … well, if so, I guess Silver Linings will be holding up with $4M a couple of weekends from now. After all, The Artist managed to muster $3.6M one weekend mid-run. Can’t wait. Do you want to bring the popcorn or shall I?

  • Josh

    Stunned at Django’s first day. Thought anything around $10 mil would be very impressive. Flat out homerun and to me a bigger ‘wow’ moment than Les Miz making $18. I thought for sure that would make over $20 mil.

  • rufussondheim

    I know a lot of people who want to see both Les Miz and Django. Most are in their twenties and are pretty damn smart.

    I will wager anyone $0.37 that Les Miz will outpace Djang by at least 20 million. It very much has wider appeal, although both will outpace original expectations.

  • Josh

    Are we really to that point where Les Mis which was once ‘the film to beat’ in terms of Oscar is now being compared to box office potential with a Tarantino film?! I love Tarantino but his highest grossing film was under $130 mil. If Les Mis DOESN’T beat Django in box office by $20 mil that is pretty pathetic given the built in audience.

  • rufussondheim

    I agree Josh. But most people were predictinig Les Miz in the low 100’s (which I thought was way too low) and if Django matched Basterds, then that would be about the same. So the comparison is built in. personally, I think Les Miz will get to 200 million and Django will get fans that discovered Basterds on video, people who gave up on QT but rediscovered him with that film. It wouldn’t suprise me if it got to 150 million.

    Personally, I don’t think Lincoln’s 120 million is that spectacular. I know Spielberg has been off lately with his BO numbers, but it’s still Spielberg, it’s not like he’s starting at ground zero here. Lincoln will finish around around 150 million which is good. But there are a lot of civil war enthusiasts who are also a built in audience.

    Personally I think the film that will get the most surprising BO is Zero Dark Thirty. Hardly anyone is giving that a chance to get to 100 million, but I think it will get there fairly easily.

  • Not to be disagreeable Rufus, but these are/were the thresholds for impressive returns IMO:

    Argo $95M (Action-thriller in a historical context matches star director’s previous effort)
    Lincoln $100M (How many movies that aren’t comedies, romances, actioners, cartoons make this figure?)
    Les Mis $120M (If a depressing musical can match the success of Hairspray, then props, color me impressed)
    Django $120M (Star director matches last revenge thriller with directorial stamp; no small feat)

    Anything above is just gravy. But, if Les Mis makes $200M verses a Lincoln $150M, that would be more impressive.

  • tonytr

    So Jackman and Hathaway were both excellent, but was anyone else disappointed by Les Miz? The one-shot solo songs were impressive, but otherwise I didn’t connect with the story or any of the characters. Helena and Sascha were amusing but nothing more, Crowe’s singing was flat, Redmayne surprised but his love story with Seyfried was woefully undercooked, and Barkes, despite a great voice, came off as “teenybopper emo.”

    I don’t care if it was faithful to the play, judging it as a movie it was very flawed. Fortunately, Jackman held the movie together and Hathaway’s performance was a showstopper.

  • Gez

    Id say Vince is spot on with the expected BO benchmarks for each film. All four will over-achieve.

  • Bryce Forestieri

    rufussondheim is here to do a hit job on LINCOLN

  • You guys go by the past too much. LES MIS isn’t any other musical that’s come before and DJANGO UNCHAINED isn’t every other Tarantino movie. Predicting either film’s box office by looking to the past is a mistake imo. I think you’re better off thinking of LES MIS as a sequel to a popular movie because it has a built in base and for DJANGO it’s probably better to think of it as any hard R action movie and then take Christmastime into account.

  • danemychal

    Let’s just say this: all of the legitimate contenders will over-perform at the box office. That means none of them have an advantage really in that department. And let’s also remember that B.O. could really mean jack shit. In no year was this truer than 2009. But at least there won’t be any box office disparity of that magnitude entering this race. Just another reason why this is a difficult race to call.

    But if you don’t see all the things playing in Lincoln’s favor, I don’t know what to tell you. All these factors have it in my book as the front-runner:

    1. Critics loved it: good MC and RT scores, made numerous top 10 lists, BFCA (Critics Choice) nominations leader.

    2. Other groups hail it a top 10 film (NBR, AFI).

    3. Globe nominations leader.

    4. SAG nominations leader.

    5. Box office success with overseas and awards season $ still to come.

    6. A cast of veterans adored by Oscar, including 3 winners and 4 other nominees.

    7. Spielberg. That two of the 3 other contenders for Best Director have both been awarded Oscars within the last 3 years will likely be taken into consideration by those not directly affiliated with Les Mis and ZDT, as this would tie them with Spielberg Oscar-wise despite bodies of work that simply cannot compare.

    8. Producer Kathleen Kennedy, who JUST stepped down as President of the PGA and is thus in fine position to be honored by them. Also nominated SEVEN times for Oscar with no wins — clearly due there.

    9. Has as much of an endorsement as you can possibly get for your movie from a sitting President (not to mention it was screened by Congress AND the L.A. Lakers!). A President who is obviously well-liked and respected in Hollywood.

    10. Subject matter that remains relevant not just from a human rights and historical perspective, but in terms of today’s issues of gun control that affect a certain amendment to the Constitution) and in the way that gay and lesbian rights are still somehow an ongoing struggle.

    11. Tony Kushner. Pulitzer Prize winning writer (Angels in America). Only his second script but was originally 500 pages. This was not your average screenwriting project, and thus it makes for a great backstory. People love great backstories with screenwriting (see Good Will Hunting, The King’s Speech, Juno). Kushner has one previous nomination. For a screenwriter, one nomination and loss is really all it takes to be “due”. I also think EW carries enormous influence during the Oscar season, and Kushner is married to EW Oscar blogger Mark Harris (currently on leave during this season due to conflict of interest). Despite the lack of Harris as an “official” presence this season, you can bet he is pro-Lincoln and that EW loves Lincoln (it topped Glieberman’s list and was 2nd on Schwarzbaum’s). Main competition is Chris Terrio (Argo). I see him beating Terrio at WGA en route to an Oscar win.

    12. Possible “trickle-down” support. Its large cast, many of which have been involved in numerous other awards-worthy projects in 2012, may receive trickle-down support from voters who know their primary films will not receive Oscar love. Fans (or other cast or crew) from Middle of Nowhere might be likely to favor Lincoln due to David Oyelowo’s presence. Ditto The Sessions fans due to John Hawkes. Ditto Looper fans due to JGL. Ditto Chronicle fans due to Dane DeHaan. Ditto Hope Springs fans due to Tommy Lee Jones. Or maybe even Hitchcock fans due to Michael Stuhlbarg or Amazing Spider-Man fans due to Sally Field! It might be a stretch to think this way, but then again — it might not be a stretch at all.

  • rufussondheim

    Someone needs to be the voice of reason around here, Bryce!

    Vince, your estimates are fine and it looks like all four will do better than expectations. So, in my opinion, singling any out is kind of fruitless and shows a bias towards that film or against another film.

    That is, until Zero Dark Thirty comes along. I think that will do quite well. Not sure what the “official” expectations are, but I think ZDT will surpass them easily. It’s got some buzz amongst the common people I work with and see a lot. And wait until those ads hit the TV with all of the Oscar noms it’s going to get.

    But any way you shake it, this is good news, maybe the studios will take a collective look at all of these films and realize that well-made films for adult will sell well. But you got to do it right.

    Back to Lincoln (the book) – I’m really starting to hate the book. (Reminder that I am reasing Team of Rivals and 12 Years a Slave simultaneously) So many letters and small little crap about how so and so was depressed because their wife died and blah blah blah. It’s such a “Great Man” perspective on history and it, frankly, couldn’t be more dull. It’s quite a slog.

    And it’s making me hate the movie more and more as time goes by. Here are a bunch of white men arguing abstractly about some concept they probably no next to nothing about. All I can see is their ignorance. Even Tommy Lee Jones wants to abolish slavery out of some “kind” notion that blacks and whites are equal. That’s all well and good. But if any of them saw how badly Edwin Epps flayed Patsey to within an inch of her life or saw Eliza’s reaction as they took her kids away from her, well, I think that would make up their minds.

    And that’s the lesson I take from the movie. How far lawmakers are removed from the people they lead, how little they know about the lives of the people they govern, how little they know about the people who need help the most.

    After seeing the passion in Les Miz and reading how bad life is in a Mumbai slum in Katharine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers, it’s hard for me to support the staid and abstract nature of shit like Lincoln. Yeah, he’s a great man, I guess, but it’s easy to be a great man, he didn’t have to sacrifice his life, or his soul, or his freedom in order to be one. Bully for him.

  • danemychal

    Lincoln didn’t have to sacrifice his life in order to be a great man, rufus? I beg to fucking differ, sir.

  • “DJANGO UNCHAINED isn’t every other Tarantino movie.”

    Revised history revenge film fantasy.

    Oh, yeah, he’s never made one of those before, so we can’t possibly use ANYTHING as a benchmark.

    “That means none of them have an advantage really in that department”

    I disagree. If Les Mis grosses $200M+ domestic, that’s a game-changer. But, that’s an awfully big IF.

    Forgot to add to list:

    -ZD30 $60M (Controversial political war thriller that would be director’s highest grossing film ever)

    -Silver Linings $60 (Rom-com that makes three times its budget back after initially slogging through the holiday season)

  • rufussondheim

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, he was assassinated, I get that.
    But that’s besides the point. I’m not talking about just Lincoln here, I’m talking about the whole lot of them. And every politician who has to struggle to do the “right thing”

    It’s not hard to do the right thing. That’s why it’s called the right thing. Becuase it’s easily identified. And you just do it. There’s no greatness in that. It’s just daily living.

  • danemychal

    That’s the thing though, rufus. If you can step outside of your post-modern thought for a second, you might see it. Many people didn’t think they were in the wrong by owning slaves. While their morals were indeed instilled in them by Christianity, the Bible also (unfortunately) maintains that slaves should obey their masters. Even when nations like Britain abolished slavery, it wasn’t because they thought slaves were their equals as human beings. And they weren’t nearly as dependent on them for their economy as the southern US or it may have taken them quite a bit longer. So here’s a man with a modern mindset who is trying to drastically alter a nation for the better through politics. And politics were no easier then than they are now. You’re never going to get people who oppose you and everything you stand for to agree to something that will alter their way of life, especially if it puts them at a severe disadvantage. Imagine me asking you to vote for Lincoln for Best Picture. You’d never dream of it.

    I’m sorry you don’t care for Abraham Lincoln. But I assure you the majority of the Academy is unlikely to share in your indifference to the man.

  • steve50

    “But I assure you the majority of the Academy is unlikely to share in your indifference to the man.”

    Ahh. There’s the problem. They should vote based on their feelings for the film, not the man. That’s how Gandhi beat ET, TKS beat TSN, Chariots of Fire beat Reds, etc

  • Bryce Forestieri

    Just saw LES MIZ with 200 seniors, and good God…I wanted to walk out so bad! Almost did, but then remembered there would eventually be NUMEROUS close-ups of gorgeous Eddie Redmayne’s face. Still not worth it. I wouldn’t say the filmmaking is “vulgar” as I’ve been reading, just plain boring, small, and claustrophobic. In any case, there’s no way in hell winning Best Pic; passionate fan base or not it just can’t win.

  • Bryce Forestieri

    “It’s not hard to do the right thing. That’s why it’s called the right thing. Becuase it’s easily identified. And you just do it. There’s no greatness in that. It’s just daily living.”

    Holy shit, a saint among us!

  • “Can’t” vs. “won’t”

    Interesting choice.

  • John

    A year like this is extremel;y difficult to predict.

    Lincoln – You’d think the actors branch, directors branch, writers branch, tech branches would salivate. But ….

    it has to split hairs with Les Miserables (who I believe will have passionate voters from the actors branch and tech branches).

    it has to split hairs with Argo who’ll also have actors, directors, writers going ga-ga for it.

    it has to contend with SLP because it is well-liked and different than any other movie in the race.

    it has Life of Pi, the list goes on.

    It’s a wonder that any film can win with any kind of majority of votes. I see splits everywhere. And it’s not like 5800 people all decide, “ehhh, lets all just vote for Argo and call the whole thing off, that’ll settle it”.

  • “In any case, there’s no way in hell winning Best Pic; passionate fan base or not it just can’t win.”

    Translation: I don’t want it to win.

  • Bryce Forestieri

    No, actually, it can’t win.

    You want it to win, but don’t hold it against me.

  • Why can’t it win? Because YOU have decreed it?

    Of course it can win. Anything can happen here.

    No I won’t hold it against you at all. You need tactical enlightenment.

    Whether I want it to win has nothing to do with anything here. The discussion is measuring various scenarios.

    It’s a long-shot but it still CAN happen.

  • Best line today: “You need tactical enlightenment.”

  • Bryce Forestieri

    Alright, I hear ya. Let’s just agree to convene at Awards Daily on Oscar night.

  • Fair enough Bryce. I’ll be here. I do think at this point that LINCOLN is the probable winner, but like everyone else I’ll be watching how things unfold.

  • And Bryce, thatnks so much for stopping by to participate on 1971!!!!

    You are a real sport my friend!!!

    And right on with THE LAST PICTURE SHOW!!!!

  • Bryce Forestieri

    You got it. You should do Screenplay too, I wanted to give TWO ENGLISH GIRLS something and would have been the category! I couldn’t bring myself to vote for Nestor Almendros over the imagery of DEATH IN VENICE; plus there’s always 1978, DAYS OF HEAVEN…

  • Bryce Forestieri

    **that would have been the category

  • rufussondheim

    danemychal, I read some more of Team of Rivals today on my break. It’s gotten interesting in that I am angry when I read it now and that anger fuels my interest.

    What’s clear to me (and why it wouldn’t be is lost on me) is that the politicians are merely imitating the thoughts of their constituents. As the public learns more about slavery the more they disfavored it. From Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the tale of that Southern Senator bashing the northern Senator over the head with the cane knocking him unconcious to the Dred Scott decision, it’s clear that the public was driving the politicians to be more anti-slavery.

    I don’t think it was the other way around. I don’t think Lincoln’s great oratory skills helped change the American Public’s Point of View. It may have made him the favorite of other politicians but it wasn’t shaping public opinion.

    It’s interesting to note that, in my opinion, Lincoln was using anti-slavery sentiment as a means to power. I say this because when he wasn’t in office or running for office he wasn’t involved in the anti-slavery movement. He was in the “I’m looking for an opening to run for office” movement.

    Lincoln, based on the impression Goodwin gives, was more about gaining power than picking the morally correct option.

  • Nic V

    Just as an fyi Les Mis’s box office on Christmas Day was indeed amazing. Just a little over 18M. Interesting enough on Wednesday it’s box office dropped by 6Million. That’s quite a drop. The Hobbit which took in 11M on Christmas Day took in almost the exact same amount on Wednesday. Interesting. Django which took in 15M on Christmas day saw it’s box office drop to 10M on Wednesday. Another considerable drop. Lincoln which took in just a little over 2M on Christmas Day in it’s 47th day of release took in just a bit more over the 2M on Wednesday. The other top performer Christmas Day was Parental Guidance which took in 6M and then dropped off to 4M on Wednesday. Interesting the drop in box office in the two leaders. A 6 million drop off in box office in one day is a message.

  • danemychal

    I say you can’t really compare day after Christmas releases unless you know what day of the week they fell on. Sure, a lot of people have the day after Christmas off (outside of retail), but a lot of the people outside of retail don’t have the day off its a Wednesday. If Christmas had been on a Thursday or Friday this year, then yes, the day after Christmas should not have dropped at all (possibly even increased). So it would pay to know what day of the week some of those other movies were released on.

  • Nic V

    Dane agreed that should have an impact but the interesting note is that The Hobbit which took in 11M on Christmas Day took in 11M the following day and Lincoln also showed no drop in box office. I would have expected both Les Mis and Django to drop off but not by the amount they did. Yes people did go back too work but school is still out. And many parents during this time jockey their schedules to be home with the kids and one of their favorite pastimes with kids is going to the movies during the holidays.

  • rufussondheim

    Of course the movies that were released on Christmas Day had a drop of the next day and the movies that were released prior to Christmas had less of a drop off. All three Xmas releases had that 30% (or so) drop while EVERY other released had a smaller drop than those three. And the more “family-oriented” a film is the less of a drop off as well (and an increase in actual KIDS movies)

    There’s nothing to see here, except that Les Miz and Django will likely average 10+ million a day between XMas and New Year’s Day. Expect Les Miz to come around 100 Million for the timeframe and for Django to pull in about 80 million. And both those totals will be astoundingly good for that timeframe.

  • Yvette

    Rufus….Saint, Historian, Clairvoyant.
    What are you doing wasting time on a movie blog? You could be leading the world, making epic films, teaching history.
    You’re everchanging opinions are a hot mess!

  • rufussondheim

    Thanks for recognizing my brilliance, Yvette. It means something when it comes from someone like you.

  • rufussondheim

    I’m not going to comment on this article as a whole but find the additional info on the Reuben character in Lincoln fascinating…

    In real life, Keckley bought her freedom and that of her son, and after petitioning for a license to work in Washington, D.C., began a career as a dressmaker, one that took off when she got as a client Mary Anna Custis Lee, the wife of eventual Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Keckley made dresses for Mary Todd Lincoln and dressed her for events, but she was not a servant. And three years after the president’s assassination, Keckley published a memoir called Behind The Scenes that, in its descriptions of the Lincolns, as well as the publication of letters from Mary, broke with previous norms of privacy, not to mention race and class.

    That’s a fascinating story, and none of it, except an acknowledgement that Keckley was once enslaved, makes it into Lincoln. Instead of being the agent of her own freedom and an independent businesswoman, Keckley is a companion to Mrs. Lincoln, and an opportunity for the movie to have some mild discussion of the president’s less-than-perfectly-liberal racial views. “I don’t know you, Mrs. Keckley. Any of you,” the president tells her, explaining his perspective on black Americans. “I expect I’ll get used to you.” Keckley wants to know why she has to be an even more perfect role model than any other mother with a son fighting on the Union side. Lincoln doesn’t have an answer for her, and Lincoln doesn’t have any praise or attention for the work Keckley did to liberate herself long before her president committed himself to the same project.

  • Yvette

    Rufus, the name of the film is Lincoln, not the “Definitive, All-Encompassing Story of America and Slavery and Politics and The Civil War In Two And and Half Hours”.
    I can’t figure out if this is some irrational disdain toward Abraham Lincoln and Spielberg or an irrational obsession for a film you feel is getting overshadowed…whatever that might be..

  • rufussondheim

    You were the one proclaiming that some of us were unable to enjoy the film because we lacked context, that we didn’t understand the greatness of Lincoln and whathe accomplished. You then told us to read some books.

    So I’m reading some books. And it’s really fascinating what I’m discovering.

    One of your reasons for liking Lincoln (the movie) is that Spielberg humanizes him (by showing his body dead on a table angelicly lit surrounded by 20 men.) I would counter that from what I discovered about him, that Spielberg expands the myth of Lincoln, making him a greater figure than than he actually was.

    I’m not diminishing what he accomplished. He’s certainly a great president. But I’m not sure how great a man he was. I think the material is there for Spielberg to humanize him, I just think he ignored it, not including any facts or data that would have been critical of him. And that’s a major flaw in my opinion.

    But I will continue reading these books. I am finishing Solomon Northup’s 12 years a Slave and I found what appears to be a good biography of Frederick Douglas and also want to read a book on Harriet Tubman in the coming weeks. These people may never have been president, but their stories are just as, if not more important to understanding American History at this time. And what I now know about these three, I can say that they achieved a greatness to which Lincoln can’t compare.

  • Yvette

    You’re POV just seems like a crusade against Lincoln, the film and the man… I’m not getting anything else from you. Is it The Master you love? Perhaps Les Mis?
    You’ve seemed to dedicate yourself to trying to convince us that, in your mind, Lincoln wasn’t all that. Now you even ‘hate’ Team of Rivals which drives you to ‘hate’ the film even more.
    Rufus, what is your point?

  • Bryce Forestieri

    @rufussondheim just wants to share what he just discovered and nobody else has. Abraham Lincoln was actually a hack, and a poser, and probably evil too. Where do I enroll? You should write a book, seriously, about how Jean Valjean should be the reference on greatness. Maybe a follow-up on L. Ron Hubbard? I need more of your 9th-grader hipster understanding of how the world works!

  • rufussondheim

    My point is that Lincoln is not a balanced view of the man’s thoughts and actions. It attributes an idealism to him that he did not possess. When taken in whole, it’s an inaccurate portrait of him.

    As for Bryce, well, be dismissive if you want, but my theory of history is actually pretty widespread amongst historians as emphasis has moved away from mythologizing the great white men of the past and viewing them in the proper perspective.

    Lincoln is still worthy of discussion, worthy of praise, but we really should stop viewing him as a god and start viewing him as a man.

  • Robert A.

    You’re POV just seems like a crusade against Lincoln, the film and the man… I’m not getting anything else from you.”

    Actually, Yvette, I would say that your POV seems like a crusade for Lincoln, the film and the man. I’m not getting anything else from you. You seem almost fanatical in your worship and your desire to jump down the throat of anyone who offers a counterpoint to the movie or the man.

    “I need more of your 9th-grader hipster understanding of how the world works!”

    A 9th-grade comeback if ever I heard one. Notice how anyone who is able to think critically about Lincoln, the movie or the man, is now referred to as a “hipster” on this site. I’ve seen it on several posts. Like sheep they jump to the word! Can’t allow any independent thought about this movie, no sir. Just worship it, damnit, you smug hipsters!

    Rufussondheim, carry on. Your posts are a breath of fresh air on the topic of Lincoln…which is probably why it’s agitating so many people. You’re not falling into the party line on this movie.

  • rufussondheim

    Thanks, Robert.

  • Yvette

    ‘which is probably why it’s agitating so many people. You’re not falling into the party line on this movie….’

    Yes, particularly when the comments are simplistic and lacking in historical context.
    Actually Robert, Rufus was lambasting the film before he saw it on the basis that it was a Spielberg film and that the silly masses were going to fall all over themselves in praise.
    The notion that some of those who like it are ‘following into the party line’ is the kind of hipster contrarianism I’m annoyed by.
    I like other films too and have spoken of them, but Rufus makes the most outrageously simplistic comments and seems particularly bothered by Lincoln that I’m always lured back into the discussion.
    I sense a fanboy bias here, but cannot figure out for what…..why else the resentment of a film that is successful and well-liked?

  • Yvette

    ‘Lincoln is still worthy of discussion, worthy of praise, but we really should stop viewing him as a god and start viewing him as a man.’

    You see Robert?
    It’s comments like this which lead one to believe that Rufus must have fallen asleep during the film….
    Rufus also said that slavery was a topic that no one had any real attachment too and so the people who have embraced the film are merely stupid and buying into some ‘great man’ delusions.
    If I was obsessed with The Master, for instance, and if I had the mindset of an adolescent fanboy, I would probably hate that Lincoln – that boring old fart, directed by Spielberg, that boring old fart -was getting all the attention.
    Fanboys are so transparent.

  • Robert A.

    “‘Lincoln is still worthy of discussion, worthy of praise, but we really should stop viewing him as a god and start viewing him as a man.’

    You see Robert?
    It’s comments like this which lead one to believe that Rufus must have fallen asleep during the film….”

    You see, Yvette, once again we disagree. I think Rufus’ comment seems perfectly reasonable. He basically says Lincoln was a man and not a god. You object to this? You think we should view Lincoln as a god and not a man? This is what I mean by fanaticism.

    “Fanboys are so transparent.”

    At last, something we agree on! Lincoln/Spielberg fanboys are indeed completely transparent.

  • Yvette

    The point being that the film does not portray Lincoln as a saint…
    I suppose Rufus may want a revisionist history where Lincoln is revealed as a charlatan, crook and closet Klan member…
    Otherwise his criticisms of the film are lacking real context within the film.
    I could care less whether fanboys with short attention spans don’t care for the film…but make an argument based on what actually happens in the film.
    ‘Spielberg fanboys’
    Ahh, now I get it.

  • Robert A.

    ” ‘Spielberg fanboys’
    Ahh, now I get it.”

    I’m sure you do, Yvette. I’m sure you do.

  • Bryce Forestieri

    I don’t think anyone is saying Lincoln was a God, or demigod, or perfect. People who try to attribute this belief to anyone are just being bullish and bullyish! There’s nobody THAT stupid in this blog.

    SEE: Nobody with half a mind believes Lincoln was a God! But he was GREAT, and interesting as hell, and important, and fundamental, and foundational, and TRANSFORMATIONAL AS FUCK.

    Also, I think it’s absurd that he keeps trying to what? Compare? Contrast? Lincoln (Team of Rivals) with 12 Years a Slave? Can you be more concrete? What does one work say about the each others merits and/or subject matter? What have you found in 12 Years a Slave that invalidates the mob’s opinion about LINCOLN the man, the movie, and the book (TEAM OF RIVALS)? Because that should be interesting as hell.

    For the record I’m part of the mob who thinks that Lincoln was a great man, arguably the greatest of US Presidents.

  • Tero Heikkinen

    I had no idea that Lincoln is a god in the movie. Never saw him like that in history books.

  • I’m confused about why THE HOBBIT got no Christmas bump at all.

    I don’t think LINCOLN portrayed Abe as a god, but I do think many people already viewed him in such a way. Those people in the general film-going public might give the film more credit than it deserves because of that. I think that’s all that was being said here.

  • mecid

    Some of you said the same thing about War Horse and now Lincoln. Then there is no dofference between two?
    So, your words are against Spielberg and everything he has done and will do. I understand you. Every director has detractors.

  • Linc4Jess

    “Lincoln” in only some 1800 theaters still doing strong box office business as it will be close to or over $130m by New Years Day. I also see where the R rated “Django Unchained” is nipping at the heels of PG “Les Mis” for number two this weekend. Will “Django” overtake “Les Mis” at the box office??

  • When I grew up, what the schools pitched about Lincoln above all other presidents was how more virtuous he was than all other presidents. He was singled out as being the greatest, if not one of the greatest. For better or worse, there’s a hero worship that develops in the collective. Some argue that bias is projected on Lincoln the movie (I.e. if this movie had been about another lesser known president, people would not be doing the cartwheels in the numbers and with the enthusiasm were seeing.), seeing a great film, partly because of the subject matter. I can’t disagree.

  • Tero Heikkinen

    Well, in that case it seems that us foreigners can “judge” this film more objectively, although we queue for it in smaller numbers. Lincoln IS in the Top 5 of all American people, EVER, but nothing to worship. He was never praised to an almost un-human level at our schools, like in USA.

    It will need all those awards to make it big outside USA. We do have ads in movie theaters and all, but right next to it is an ad for Life of Pi. Guess which one wins?

    The Box Office success story must come from USA in this case. I see 150M in USA, 100M abroad. Close to 200M abroad if it wins BP. So, WE, here at Awardsdaily know the importance of Oscars and what is its worth in financial success, not artistic or critical. The last two go hand in hand. Lincoln has all three.

  • Lincoln was an instructive and decent legislative procedural regarding a time in American history. And it’s cool that its making bank. I can’t relate to the passion some feel towards it. There have been more complicated, sophisticated, and entertaining films from 2012. It makes me wonder (key word “wonder”) if, to a much lesser extent than say “the help,” it serves as a vehicle for social edification (“Lincoln was so amazing for doing what he did and I’m so glad I’m not a racist”). But, like actual racism today, these things are hard to measure.

    ZD30 was not socially edifying at all, for example. It made me basically support torture, which I thought I was against, but was forced to confront my own biases, because I was 100% behind the protagonist. Lincoln didn’t make me question anything. It showed that politics never change. But I could have done without all the staple Spielberg flourishes I’ve come to loathe. Sappy doesn’t always work, especially when you’re pretending you’re not.

    Anyway, Robert A and Rufus bring up some excellent points. Perhaps in the spirit of Sashas “a case for” les Mis, she should have Robert A or Rufus (better yet, a joint effort) write the Lincoln edition. THAT, I’d read.

    Would also love to read Bryce’s “a case for” Oliver stone’s savages.

  • That being said, if les Mis had been directed by Tarantino, scorsese, Or Anderson Or bigelow, and had produced a similar product for all intent and purposes, you would see no where near the vile attitude to its prospects and positive response.

  • steve50

    I seriously doubt a similar product would have been produced, Vince. But then, I can’t see any of the directors you name going near it in the first place, except maybe Scorsese (and I think he learned his lesson with NYNY, though).

  • Yvette

    “Anyway, Robert A and Rufus bring up some excellent points. Perhaps in the spirit of Sashas “a case for” les Mis, she should have Robert A or Rufus (better yet, a joint effort) write the Lincoln edition. THAT, I’d read.”

    Oh, I’d love to read that too…lol

  • Jason Bellamy of THE COOLER is one of the film blogospher’e best writers. With Ed Howard he has worked miracles with their scholarly THE CONVERSATION series. He admits he generally likes musicals, but he had very mixed feelings about LES MISERABLES. Though I am a big fan of the film (obviously) I found Bellamy’s creative review -read to the tune of “Master of the House” too good to pass up, and I copy it here. Needless to say many of his debit findings are not shared, but it was quite a fun read.

    Welcome readers,
    Sit yourself down,
    Hear of the best musical in town.

    It is Les Mis,
    Cast full of stars,
    Flashy showbiz,
    And a date with Oscars.

    Seldom do you see
    Such reviews from me:
    A slant on film content
    As song parody…

    Hooper’s in the house!
    Sound out the alarm:
    Needless camera movements do your stomach harm.
    Tells an epic tale.
    Edits in a blur.
    For those who hate long takes it’s the perfect cure.
    Hathaway’s the movie’s savior.
    She is worth the ticket price.
    Her Fantine dreams in one take, saving Hooper from his urge to splice.

    Hooper’s in the house!
    Camera’s in the face;
    Globetrotting story without a sense of place.
    Claustrophobic shots.
    Not a single dance.
    Half the time we can’t be sure they’re wearing pants.
    Everybody loves a tripod.
    Everybody wants to see.
    But Hooper’s camera wanders like he spends his Thursdays watching Glee.

    Hooper’s in the house!
    Jackman comes up big.
    At last a Jean Valjean who’s not a total prig!
    Gives a sense of pain,
    Earns our love and care,
    Delivers in his standoffs with Crowe’s Javert.
    Everybody loves a ballad.
    Everybody loves a song.
    But even Peter Jackson thinks this thing goes on a little long.

    Jason does acknowledge that Hathaway was great though.

  • Bryce Forestieri

    Still looking forward rufussondheim’s reasons for the incessant juxtaposition of those 2 books. How does one work illuminate the other in such a way impossible before having read both? And please after you do, allow me to react.

    @Vince, I don’t feel passionate enough to make a case for SAVAGES(2.5/5). I think our disagreement earlier in the year was about you dismissing Stone altogether. I hadn’t even seen SAVAGES then.

    I just want to state that my fave film this year has been AMOUR, and quite liked THE MASTER as to not lose too much credibility among ya’ll

  • Bryce Forestieri


  • rufussondheim

    12 Years a Slave concerns Solomon Northup who was born a free man in New York, who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841. He left behind a wife and three children. He was kidnapped in DC and got shipped off to New Orleans before he was sold and became a plantation slave until events transpired and he was freed in 1853. The book was an autobiographical account of his ordeal, and it was released in 1853.

    In it there are references to William Seward (he was governor of New York in the early 1840’s and was made aware of the kidnapping but couldn’t do anyting about it for lack of specificity) and Salmon Chase (he represented Northup’s interests against his kidnappers after he was freed). Both of these men were rivals for the 1860 Republican Nomination for President that Lincoln eventually won.

    Team of Rivals discusses these two men in depth especially with regards to their anti-slavery stances and how these two men backed up their beliefs and participated in the anti-slavery movement.

    When one reads 12 Years a Slave, you can’t help but be moved by the extreme injustice, not only to Northup but also to the other black people who were slaves for the same owner. Throughout the book Northup has several passages where he decries slavery and overall treatment to the “degraded” Negro race. These are highly effective passages and it’s hard to imagine someone not being affected by them, even in a time when racism was extremely entrenched.

    Indeed, many of Lincoln’s contemporaries were heavily involved in the anti-slavery movement (such as Salmon Chase as described above). Lincoln was not. While he was firmly and consistently anti-slavery, he was against it mostly because he thought it would tear the nation apart. There are also passages where it describes his belief that slavery would slowly disappear over time and he was content with such a practice.

    Team of Rivals also discusses at length how voracious a reader and learner Lincoln was, and the book goes on about Pythagorus and other pursuits.

    Again, Team of Rivals discusses many of Lincoln’s beliefs with regards to black people specifically his belief that blacks were an inferior race. The book also discusses his famous contention that any freed slaves should be sent back to Africa. The book states that he discounts this idea not because of its moral reprehensibility but because of it’s impracticality and expense.

    Now Lincoln’s racism was very much in keeping with many of his contemporaries, in fact amongst anti-slavery politicians he was very much in the mainstream. And so people forgive him for this racism. “Everyone’s a little bit racist” so we can forgive him for that.

    I’m arguing that we can’t forgive him for that. If he was a great man, a great leader, he should have transcended that belief. If Lincoln had included in his educational pursuits and familiarized himself with slave narratives such as 12 Years a Slave he should have had a different perspective than the one he shared with the public. If he was a great man, he would have led on this issue.

    When Lincoln deliverd his famous anti-slavery speeches – again, according to Team of Rivals – he didn’t argue the moral repugnance of slavery, he argued about how it was a divisive issue that would ruin the country, or he would argue it legally (all men are created equal) but he did not argue what we now hold to be self-evident, rather he argued that blacks were inferior, a step below white people, but at least a step above animals and therefore shouldn’t be enslaved.

    None of this, of course, is discussed in the film. Now I know the film was about the “legislative process” and the decision to pursue the Amendment at that time or to wait until the war was over and the North had won. But the complete avoidance of this topic is telling. And the movie suffers, as others have said here, that doesn’t challenge us to critically evaluate him as a man, or ourselves in our admiration of him. The movie is nothing more than hero worship.

    And I think the film does an extreme disservice to men like Solomon Northup (he among many) who did the nuts and bolts of educating white Northerners on the horrors of slavery. It ignores their contributions entirely and instead, the film portrays blacks as the happy beneficiaries of noble and charitable white people. And that’s just wrong.

  • Steve50 > Point taken. However, Tom Hooper’s name alone was enough for people to bring out the knives (I didn’t care for The King’s Speech, by the way). Again, people are taking it apart for its technicals, but, there’s a general disdain towards the director and genre that precedes it.

    Bryce > I was just giving you a hard time. As it were, I had to eat humble pie after seeing Savages, as I probably enjoyed it more than most. I even gave you a shout-out in my short review before the Spoiler Summary:

    Sam > Thank you for sharing. I sang my whole way through your post. Still excited about seeing the film, though.

    Rufus > Not really getting the knives aimed in your direction, but the blades appear pretty dull upon closer inspection. You continue to make excellent points. Would have loved a more complicated film that delved into the political process, as well as a more sophisticated exploration of the man who made those amendments possible. As it were, it sounds like Spielberg, care of Kushner, decided to get in the way of the content potential, by giving us a fantasia on the passing of the 13th and 14th amendments.

  • rufussondheim

    What an interesting choice of words, fantasia. Was that on purpose?

    I don’t mind the discussion even if the knives are weak. It forces me to think and explore and be a better critical thinker. This discussion will alter the books I choose to read for weeks and months ahead. I find it stimulating.

  • rufussondheim

    For the record, Don Winslow’s Savages is an interesting read. Didn’t love it enough to recommend it outright, but it was uniquely written and had some nice passages. If you dug the movie, I imagine you’d find the book a good option if you’re looking for something. According to a friend of mine, there are enough differences to keep it interesting (I, myself, have yet to see the movie, but it’s on the list and I will likely get to it soon)

  • Rufus > Yes, it was on purpose, but it was a bad choice of word. I probably should have used “fantasy.” But, I was feebly trying to wrangle in Angels in America. It’s my only experience of Kushner. I saw my first production earlier this year (I know, take away my gay card). It was a college production, but they really tried to make a go of it. I wasn’t sure if it was too ambitious of a project at that level, or the problem was with the ambitions of the plays. I err on the latter, due to the more “fantastical” elements not working, nor being able to see them ever work. One (or both of them; I forget) is subtitled “A Gay Fantasia.” What seemed like Kushner trying to have the final word on AIDS in the 1980s and painting an epic representation of that time, I found dated and aimless. Just way too much artistic license without much foresight. But, I was a kid in the 80s and didn’t live in New York, so what do I know? It didn’t help that most of the characters are unsympathetic, though only its most unapologetically unsympathetic one, Roy Cohn, is its most intriguing. I feel there have been other ventures that have done more with less when it comes to the disease, its impact, etc. And, I wish his plays had worked for me. I really do.

    I was trying to draw parallels from the play(s) to the Lincoln movie, and I struggled. Frankly, I couldn’t drum up a connection. But, based on what you wrote about your reading of Team of Rivals, Lincoln the Movie sounds like a liberal “fantasy” on the passing of the 13th and 14th amendments, an idealized version of a very ugly, but necessary time in our history. Had Kushner not dumbed the story down to basic hero worship (as the protagonist is never questioned or confronts his moral conflict), it would have massively cut into the movie’s commercial viability. So, in that way, Lincoln strikes me as a “fantasy,” or delusional half-truth, rather. And, I totally get that. Hollywood is a business. And the preservation of Lincoln’s myth had to remain intact to keep the coffers filling up. I’m glad it’s making money, but I would have preferred a more challenging film. That’s just me being an unsatisfied moviegoer asking for more. Nothing new. The consensus here seems to be the opposite: we like our history very black and white thank you very much. Yawn.

    I hope I’m not coming across as combative if you loved/liked Angels, anyway.

    I will have to see about reading Savages, based on your recommendation.

  • Tero Heikkinen

    “None of this, of course, is discussed in the film.”

    I’ve had enough of your vile looping record. But thank you, I am finally going to read Victor Hugo’s book, so I can tell you all the things that Tom Hooper forgot to mention in his film.

    Your hatred towards Lincoln, the film and the man, plus Spielberg gets more ridiculous day by day. How do you live with yourself? Do you even have friends?

  • Tero Heikkinen

    But I understand that it’s hard in America, so I can’t really blame you being so depressed. My friend (who is a member of HFPA btw) flies home for basic dental cleaning even (free at charge), because it’s cheaper to pay the flights to Europe than use American “health care system”.

    I hope you are well.

  • rufussondheim

    I’ve tried to read the Hugo book. He spends fifty pages with the guy who gives Valjean the silver even before Jean Valjean enters the picture. It’s a tough slog that I gave up on. I’d much rather you read 1Q84. It’s magical! Or Infinite Jest if you want a truly challenging read. It’s 20 years old, almost, but still gets so much right about contemporary America.

    The funny thing is, I don’t hate Lincoln, the man nor the film. Yet people keep thinking I do. Lincoln is likely the best president out there, although I’m partial to the Roosevelts. But I’m no historian so my opinion means little.

    As for the film, it was good. It wasn’t great. That doesn’t mean I hate it. It just means I care enough about the topic to wish the film was better. Vince states it better than I have.

    As for the word fantasia, I think it’s pretty much an apt word here (I had to look it up for a more clear definition) with limits. Spielberg does kind of ramble from topic to topic in order to fulfill his goals. One minute he’s carrying his son to bed, the next minute he’s lecturing telegraph workers, the next minute he’s harassing democrats to vote his way, the next he’s arguing with his wife, the next he’s berating his cabinet to do better, the next he’s visting with soldiers who have nothing better to do than memorize the Gettysbrug address, the next he’s visiting a dumping ground for amputeed limbs. The man gets around! I just Spielberg would have scratched some of these scenes to give us something even meatier.

  • steve50

    “It wasn’t great. That doesn’t mean I hate it. It just means I care enough about the topic to wish the film was better.”

    When the word “hater” is tossed around so freely, it makes it difficult to question or discuss the flaws or merits of a movie. Nothing worse than being smacked with a label when you’re just trying to make a point in a discussion. It’s also unnerving to see a poster get jumped personally.

    The movie has never been made that one can’t argue one side or the other, but “hate” is an emotion better directed towards thoughtless drivers or brussel sprouts.

  • “I’ve tried to read the Hugo book. He spends fifty pages with the guy who gives Valjean the silver even before Jean Valjean enters the picture.”

    Rufus: As always I greatly respect your views. But the first 50 pages of the novel you dismiss here are arguably the most voital and immersive in the novel, as they set up the spiritual metaphorphosis that propels Jean Valjean through his newfound humane mission. I believe those 50 pages are the greatest I have read in my entire life.

  • rufussondheim

    Sam, you are likely correct. But I was a young buck and just wanted to get to the part where Eponine sang on my own, which was never going to happen.

    But the memory of those first 250 pages has always prevented me from going back. But since then, I’ve loved books that many consider too long or too challenging and I’ve always wanted to go back and give it another go.

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