This weekend Tom Cruise rang in 2012 by being the top draw around the world once again as his latest action sequel Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol topped the box office over the long Friday-to-Monday New Year’s holiday weekend. The Paramount release saw its four-day gross dip 13% to an estimated $38.3M which lifted the cume to a sturdy $141.2M allowing the new chapter to surpass the $134M final domestic take of the previous film in the series, 2006’s Mission: Impossible 3, in a mere 18 days of release. Successfully reviving a franchise that was thought to be dead, the $145M-budgeted Ghost Protocol is now on track to reach the $200M mark while the global gross is on a trajectory to smash the $500M barrier.
Overseas, the newest Mission: Impossible ruled for the third consecutive frame with an estimated $37M over the standard Friday-to-Sunday period from 54 markets for a robust international cume to date of $225.3M and global tally of $366.5M. Leading territory totals include $35.7M in Japan, $34.8M in Korea, $14.8M in France, $12.7M in the U.K., $12.2M in Russia, and $10.1M in India. With key markets like China and Italy still to open, the overseas tally will climb well above $300M.
Finishing the long weekend in second place was the season’s other star-driven action sequel, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, which experienced a similar 15% slide to an estimated $26.5M over the Friday-to-Monday period. The big-budget Warner Bros. film has now grossed $136.5M after 18 days of play and is running 18% behind the $166.4M of its 2009 predecessor with Christmas and New Year’s included in both totals. A final of $175-200M seems likely putting it below the $209M of the first Sherlock.
Following Robert Downey Jr. for the third straight weekend, the G-rated kidpic Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked enjoyed a 8% bump to an estimated $21M boosting the sum to $97.4M. The Fox pic is running 34% behind the pace of the first Alvin from 2007 which also opened in mid-December before the big holiday bump family films receive when schools close for Christmas. Chipwrecked may end up in the $130-140M range.
Holiday holdovers hope to keep the cash rolling in through mid-January since most college students are still out of school. Plus only one new film opens wide next weekend – the horror film The Devil Inside in 2,000+ theaters – so there will be little competition from new players until January 13 which is the start of the lucrative four-day Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend which tends to be very busy at multiplexes.
In its first full weekend of release, Steven Spielberg’s War Horse grossed an estimated $19.2M over four days from 2,547 locations for a solid $7,546 average which was second best among wide releases after Ghost Protocol. Disney’s release of the DreamWorks production has resulted in $45.2M in the nine days since its Christmas Day debut last Sunday. A final take of around $75M may result unless it shows strong legs.
Slipping a notch to fifth place was 2011’s top-grossing R-rated drama, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which took in an estimated $19M over four days raising the 13-day total to $60M. The Friday-to-Monday take was off a scant 3% giving the Sony title a better hold than the other two major movies playing to mature adults – Mission: Impossible and Sherlock Holmes – which saw declines of 13% and 15% respectively. The American remake of the popular Swedish crime thriller should easily reach $90M and could possibly even hit the $100M mark in North America.
Matt Damon’s family dramedy We Bought a Zoo followed with an estimated $16.5M representing a 13% jump over its Christmas weekend debut. The Fox title has banked $44M in 11 days. Close behind was Spielberg’s second offering of the season, The Adventures of Tintin, with an estimated $15M raising the total to $50.8M in 13 days. Unlike other films aimed at the family audience, this PG-rated adventure saw its weekend decline as the figure eased by 1%.
The Warner Bros. dud New Year’s Eve profited from its namesake holiday and saw sales soar by 49% to an estimated $7.7M. With $47.4M to date, the all-star comedy should see its numbers tumble into the new year now that its story is no longer relevant. Bad word-of-mouth won’t help either.
The 3D alien attack thriller The Darkest Hour ranked ninth with an estimated $5.3M, up 4%, giving Summit a modest $14.2M thus far. Oscar hopeful The Descendants rounded out the top ten surging 30% to an estimated $4.3M putting the Fox Searchlight hit at $40.3M with much of awards season still to go. Golden Globe wins and key Oscar nominations could keep the George Clooney film going all through January.
Sneaking in right before the end-of-year Oscar deadline were some awards contenders in platform release. Leading the way with a bang was Meryl Streep’s Margaret Thatcher pic Iron Lady which bowed to an estimated $280,000 from just four locations for a scorching $70,102 average over four days for The Weinstein Co. Sony Classics opened the acclaimed Iranian film A Separation in three sites and grossed an estimated $79,000 for a strong $26,494 average over the long weekend. The film has been a dominant force during awards season in the foreign language race and is one of 63 films vying for the five Oscar nods in that category. The critically acclaimed lesbian drama Pariah bowed to an estimated $65,000 from four houses for a respectable $16,273 average and $102,000 since its Wednesday launch.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $172.8M over four days which was up from last year’s three-day frame when Little Fockers stayed in the top spot with $25.8M; but down from 2009 when Avatar remained at number one with a huge $68.5M in is third round. The overall marketplace over the long holiday session was up only 3% from six years ago when New Year’s Day last fell on a Sunday indicating a substantial drop in attendance since ticket prices have climbed by more than 20% during that time.
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