Supervisor, Emily Clark, left and General Manager, Lavanna Neal, have
a practice run with champagne, popcorn and a Christmas floral

POP IN: Palace Electric's Emily Clarke (left) and Lavanna Neal get in the mood for Christmas Day. Photo: Graham Tidy

Box-office records will not be the only thing shattered this holiday season: one cinema has decided to break tradition by opening on Christmas Day.

Thousands of Canberrans descend on cinemas throughout the city every year on Boxing Day to escape the heat and see the latest blockbusters. Most cinemas said they expected about 4000 people to pack their auditoriums on the 26th.

This year, Canberra's cinema operators said they expected the second of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy to be very popular with filmgoers. Dendy cinema in Civic has already sold more than 1000 tickets for The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug alone.

''It's always nice to have a Peter Jackson movie at Christmas time,'' Limelight Tuggeranong manager Michael Singh said, and there was nothing like the atmosphere in a cinema on Boxing Day.

''It's all hands on deck from a staff point of view. We have constant queues. It's a great atmosphere,'' he said. ''There's a lot of excitement around the building.''

Disney's Frozen, which has been tremendously well-received overseas, also opens on Boxing Day.

''It's expected to be one of the better kids' movies that we've been experiencing for the last few years,'' Mr Singh said.

However, three big-name films will open a day early, after the new Palace Electric Cinema in New Acton chose to open on Christmas Day.

Palace Electric has celebrated its first Christmas in business by showing The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Philomena and The Railway Man from 2.30pm on the 25th, breaking Australian tradition.

Palace Electric Cinema marketing and events co-ordinator Sarah Malone said it would be a wonderful atmosphere.

''Boxing Day is traditional but we open on Christmas Day to give people the opportunity who might want something to do in the afternoon … and for keen film buffs who have been waiting all year for their film to come out,'' she said.

Ms Malone said it was standard practice for Palace Cinemas to be open on Christmas Day and that it would also show The Hobbit on Boxing Day.


New films this week

The Hobbit Desolation of Smaug, rated M, 161 minutes

Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan

In the second film of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy, the eponymous hobbit Bilbo Baggins continues on his quest to help reclaim an ancient Dwarven kingdom from the terrible dragon, Smaug. The movie to beat this Boxing Day. Watch The Hobbit trailer

Frozen, rated PG, 108 minutes

Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel

A prophecy has trapped the kingdom in eternal winter and its princess Anna must team up with a mountain man and a reindeer called Sven to save the day. Very well-reviewed overseas and sure to be a delight for kids of all ages. Watch the Frozen trailer.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, rated PG, 114 minutes

Ben Stiller, Kirsten Wiig

Walter Mitty is a day-dreaming office worker, who escapes into worlds of action, romance and adventure to avoid his tedious life. When his job is threatened, he has to go on a real adventure more spectacular than anything he could have imagined. Watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty trailer.

Philomena, rated M, 98 minutes

Judi Dench, Steve Coogan

Based on a true story, cynical and world weary political journalist Martin Sixsmith accompanies mother Philomena Lee on a search for her lost son, adopted away from her years ago. Watch the Philomena trailer.

The Railway Man, rated M, 116 minutes

Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman

Based on Eric Lomax's best-selling memoir, The Railway Man is an inspiring true story of heroism, humanity and the redeeming power of love. Watch The Railway Man trailer.