Hoping to beat the “traffic” that’s expected at multiplexes during December’s suddenly overcrowded holiday weekends, Paramount Pictures has shifted the release date on the comedy The Guilt Trip from Christmas Day to Dec. 19 … a full six days earlier than planned.

Not that the road-trip comedy still won’t face stiff competition. No matter where a movie moves to in December, it’s bound to battle with rival productions for audience attendance. Moving to Dec. 19 – as reported by Deadline -- means that Guilt Trip stars Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand now must contend with Pixar’s animated re-release of Monsters Inc., Judd Apatow’s This is 40, Paramount’s action-packed Jack Reacher, and Kathryn Bigelow’s hunt-for-Bin-Laden thriller Zero Dark Thirty. The move is a little strange, as Trip goes head-to-head with 40 for essentially the same audience. (Half of Rogen’s audience knows him from his work on Apatow’s movies.) Also, Paramount now competes against itself by putting Reacher and Guilt Trip in the same weekend. The frame is simply too stuffed with cinematic options.

Shifting away from Dec. 25, however, means that the Anne Fletcher-directed comedy gets a welcome head start over the Oscar contenders that expect to flood the marketplace over the Christmas weekend. Django Unchained and Les Miserables have a virtual stronghold on the holiday, and you can start to understand why rival movies would start moving out of the way.

At the very least, no one should be able to complain that there’s nothing worth seeing at the movies in December. And those waiting for The Guilt Trip will be especially pleased, as it now opens earlier than you anticipated.

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