Tom Cruise rang in the New Year smiling, as Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol led the box office with an estimated $31.3 million over the three-day (Friday to Sunday) weekend. That represents a 6 percent jump from Christmas weekend.
However, nearly every wide release saw their grosses rise compared to last weekend. The weekend after Christmas has historically been a strong box-office period, as many families are still on break but are no longer occupied with holiday preparations.
Ghost Protocol, the fourth entry in the action franchise, has now cumulatively tallied $134.1 million, surpassing the final gross of Mission: Impossible III ($134 million). The PG-13 movie, which was helmed by Pixar animation director Brad Bird, will now attempt to catch up with the first Mission: Impossible, which collected $181 million in 1996. That figure should be within reach for Ghost Protocol.
In second place was Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, which rose 9 percent for $22.1 million. The sequel has taken in $132.1 million in 17 days. The original Sherlock Holmes, by comparison, had earned $165.2 million by this point. Although A Game of Shadows trails its predecessor, it is slowly closing the gap. This is because the first Sherlock Holmes opened on Christmas weekend, thereby inflating its initial figures. Shadows, on the other hand, debuted on the (typically slow) weekend before Christmas, and is just now benefiting from a post-Christmas bump.
In other words, the first Sherlock Holmes started out of the gate much quicker, but Shadows is picking up steam. The sequel probably won’t have enough momentum to reach its predecessor’s final tally of $209 million, but the gap between the two films should be a lot smaller than many people initially thought.
The same holds true for Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, which jumped an incredible 45 percent for $18.3 million. The rodent threequel has so far earned $94.6 million in 17 days. In the same time frame, the 2007 original had grossed $141.4 million and its 2009 sequel had amassed $165.4 million. Despite Chipwrecked’s slow start, it has been holding up well and should finish its domestic run with a respectable number.
In its first full weekend, Steven Spielberg’s equine epic War Horse finished fourth with $16.9 million. Whereas most films dropped from Friday to Saturday this weekend (on account of Saturday being New Year’s Eve), War Horse actually jumped 20 percent on Saturday. One possible explanation could be that the movie is drawing a decidedly older audience that wasn’t about to let New Year’s Eve get in the way of its moviegoing plans. According to CinemaScore, 79 percent of War Horse’s audience was at least 25 years old. The Oscar hopeful has so far collected $43 million and is on its way to becoming a genuine holiday hit.
Finally, in fifth, was David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which rose 28 percent for $16.3 million. The $90 million adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s bestselling novel has so far grossed a decent but somewhat disappointing $57.1 million in 12 days.
In limited release, The Iron Lady, starring Meryl Streep as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, debuted to an outstanding $221,800 at four theaters – that’s a per-location average of $55,450. The acclaimed Iranian drama A Separation, which is practically assured an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, opened to a solid $66,600 in three theaters. And the Sundance drama Pariah started its run with a merely okay $49,700 at four locations.
1. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol – $31.3 mil
2. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows – $22.1 mil
3. Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked – $18.3 mil
4. War Horse – $16.9 mil
5. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – $16.3 mil