It’s Christmastime!

The Christmas season comes to the box office today (Friday) with the opening of Disney/Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. which is expected to draw a monster take over the next two weeks. It will then be challenged — successfully, most analysts predict — on Nov. 16 by Warner’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Both films will then face daunting holiday competition on Dec. 19 from New Line’s The Lord of the Rings. “This looks like it could be a record-breaking holiday period,” Exhibitor Relations chief Paul Dergarabedian told Bloomberg News. He also predicted a record-breaking year, with ticket sales exceeding $8 billion. Strong holiday grosses are also expected for Warner’s Ocean’s Eleven, starring Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Matt Damon, Sony-Columbia’s Ali, starring Will Smith; Universal’s Vanilla Sky with Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz; 20th Century Fox’s Shallow Hal, starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Jack Black; and Warner’s The Majestic, with Jim Carrey.