Quentin Tarantino pic to hit theaters Christmas Day 2012

The Weinstein Co. has set a Christmas Day 2012 release date for Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained,” pitting the controversial pic against the second frame of Disney’s wholesome “Lone Ranger.”

“Django” centers on a slave-turned-bounty hunter on a mission to rescue his wife from her sadistic slavemaster.

Leonardo DiCaprio is in final negotiations to play the latter role, while previous Tarantino collaborators Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson are also expected to close deals shortly.

As for the title role of Django, Will Smith’s interest appears to be waning, forcing Tarantino to take meetings with other prominent actors such as Jamie Foxx, Idris Elba and Chris Tucker, who appeared in the helmer’s “Jackie Brown.”

There are no other films scheduled to open on Tuesday, Dec. 25, 2012, though Fox 2000 and Relativity Media release “Life of Pi” and “Hunter Killer,” respectively, on Dec. 21. Of course, Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” opens Dec. 14 and will likely still be going strong at the box office come Christmas.

Sony Pictures is co-financing “Django” and handling distribution overseas. Tarantino will soon begin searching for an editor to replace his longtime cutter Sally Menke, who died last September.

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