If there’s one thing we can take away from this week’s holiday-tinged box office is that Tom Cruise is back! After a better-than-expected debut last week on 400 IMAX screens, the mega-star’s latest blockbuster “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” expanded nationwide on Wednesday and comfortably led all movies with a terrific $46.2 million over the long Christmas weekend. The same positive news couldn’t translate to other newcomers as David Fincher’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” Cameron Crowe’s “We Bought a Zoo” and Steven Spielberg’s “The Adventures of Tintin” all under-performed. But Spielberg did score big with his other picture, “War Horse” which had a sensational two day debut. The following is the full breakdown of the box office results for the weekend ending December 26, 2011:
1. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL – $46.2 million
Did I mention Tom Cruise is back? Well, let me say it again: He’s back! After a string of box office disappointments had left the actor’s star power in tatters (no thanks to his very public tantrums in 2005), not many had expected Cruise, a bullet-proof star from the late 80s to the early 2000s, to ever bounce back but here we are. With $46.2 million taken over the weekend and $78.6 million and counting, “Ghost Protocol,” the fourth film in the lucrative “Mission: Impossible” franchise is likely to become the highest grossing film of the holiday season (barring “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1” that is). It also stands a very good chance at challenging the $215 million put up by “Mission: Impossible II” in summer 2000. Bolstered by excellent reviews (a towering 93% approval rating from critic on Rotten Tomatoes) and fantastic word-of-mouth (an “A-” average score from audiences polled by Cinemascore), this is one mission that’s proving to be very successful. My Review.
2. SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS – $31.8 million
After its chart-topping debut last week, Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” lost about 19% of its audience this weekend to pick up an estimated $31.8 million for the four day weekend. While that’s not so bad by average blockbuster standards, it’s disappointing considering the film was hyped to be the most anticipated film of the holiday season and has been lagging behind its predecessor from day 1. At this point (11 days) two years ago, “Sherlock Holmes” had already grossed $141.6 million whereas “A Game of Shadows” has only mustered up an estimated $90.5 million. Though I fully expect the sequel to close the gap over the next seven days (which usually plays like a week-long weekend), it’s unlikely that this sequel will top the original’s $209 million total. My Review.
3. ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: CHIPWRECKED – $20 million
One of the perils of reporting box office is that I have to waste precious time writing about movies like “Chipwrecked.” The three-quel dropped about 14% from its debut last weekend and is currently lagging behind its predecessors. Still American audiences were more interested in spending money on the critically-drubbed flick than any of the weekend’s non-sequel new releases.
4. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO – $19.4 million
Leading the way among the films making their nationwide debut on Wednesday was David Fincher’s English-language adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s best-selling novel “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Highly hyped since its inception, the critically acclaimed hard R-rated drama dubbed as “the feel-bad movie of the holiday season” wasn’t able to convert the online hype into massive ticket returns as it could only muster up a mediocre $19.4 million over the 4-day weekend. With a budget reported to be in the $100 million range, this isn’t very good news for the success of this potential franchise. Still, with excellent reviews, an amazing “A” grade from Cinemascore, and the holidays still in full swing, the moody thriller still stands a shot at become an asset. My Review.
5. THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN – $16.1 million
As many box office prognosticators had long suspected, Steven Spielberg’s first film of the holiday season, the critically admired “The Adventures of Tintin” wasn’t able to translate its amazing international success (where the comics are a mainstay) into domestic success this weekend. Opening at the box office in fifth place with a disappointing $16.1 million over the four-day weekend, the critically admired film struggled to lure action-tuned moviegoers to buy tickets for this locally-unknown property – many who opted to go with the more familiar “Mission: Impossible” and “Sherlock Holmes” films. Still, despite its mediocre opening numbers, there’s still a reason for Spielberg and producer Peter Jackson to rejoice – the movie has already grossed a very strong $250 million worldwide where the comics are very popular. Additionally, the strong reviews and excellent word-of-mouth (it received an excellent “A-” grade from audiences polled by Cinemascore) should propel it to potent numbers stateside. While a $100 million domestic gross seems out of the question, the overall returns should be more than enough to guarantee a sequel. My Review.
6. WE BOUGHT A ZOO – $15.6 million
Like “Tintin,” director Cameron Crowe’s first film in five years, the family drama “We Bought a Zoo,” was also met with a tepid box office response. But like Spielberg’s film, audiences polled by Cinemascore gave the drama a very encouraging “A-” grade meaning the movie is far from down for the count. With no major movies entering multiplexes for the next couple of weeks, audiences will have at least three weeks to catch up with all the Christmas movies.
7. WAR HORSE – $15 million
If “Tintin” was an underperformer for Steven Spielberg, then his other holiday picture, the World War 1 epic “War Horse,” was definitely an over-performer. The Oscar-winning filmmaker’s award-bait drama opened on Christmas Day with an amazing $7.1 million and is expected to pull in a similar amount on Monday, December 26, which will take its total up to $15 million in just two days. For the math-handicapped, that’s a far better intake than “Chipmunk,” “Dragon Tattoo,” “Tintin” and “Zoo.” If the “A-” average grade from moviegoers polled by Cinemascore is any indication (which it is), expect “War Horse” to skyrocket up the list over the next few days and pile on the cash during this holiday week and become a smash success by the time Oscar nominations are announced at the end of January.
- “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” was originally slated to open against “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” on December 17 but after early research suggested that the spy film would be trounced by the Robert Downey Jr. action-comedy, studio Paramount Pictures re-organized the film’s release pattern for an IMAX-only engagement on the 17th followed by a wide-bow on the 21st. The decision worked as the IMAX release only fuelled the stellar word-of-mouth and excellent reviews. My Review.
- Conversely, Warner Brothers’ decision to move “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” up a week from the 21st backfired as the film had a much smaller opening than its predecessor signaling that audiences weren’t too happy with the original film. My Review.
- “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked” is one of only two films in the box office top 10 to receive a overall disapproval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. The film currently holds an abysmal 13% approval rating.
- Despite the immense hype and popularity of the books, American audiences decided not to flock to David Fincher’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” adaptation. The opening was the weakest for a Fincher film since 2007’s “Zodiac” which was a film that didn’t have any hype, marketing nor major stars (at the time) attached to it. My Review.
- “The Adventures of Tintin” had the advantage of being the only film in the top 10 that had already made back its budget without playing a single day in the United States. The film opened around most of the world in October and has been a successful blockbuster in almost every territory it has played in. Of course, the comics are very popular in most of those countries. My Review.
- According to exit polls, a surprising 58% of moviegoers who purchased tickets for “We Bought a Zoo” were female. I realize that’s barely a talking point but there’s barely anything to talk about this movie.
- “The Adventures of Tintin” and “War Horse” mark the fifth time Steven Spielberg has released two films in a calendar year. His previous double-bills were “Schindler’s List” and “Jurassic Park” in 1993, “Amistad” and “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” in 1997, “Minority Report” and “Catch Me if You Can” in 2002, and “Munich” and “War of the Worlds” in 2005.
- With eight movies opening over the last seven days, there was bound to be at least one catastrophe – and looks like the science fiction thriller “The Darkest Hour” filled that void. With only $5.5 million taken in since its debut and a horrific “C-” average from Cinemascore audiences, expect this one to fall off the deep end over the next week.
- Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants” continued its slow run at the box office with an estimated $3.4 million over the 4-day weekend. The award-winning film has pulled in $33.1 million so far. My Review.
NEXT WEEK’S RELEASE:
No major releases are scheduled to open over the final weekend of 2011 so audiences will have to pick and choose from the current crop of films.
WEEKEND TOP 10:
- Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol – $46.2 million ($78.6 m) (My Review)
- Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows – $31.8 million ($90.5 m) (My Review)
- Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked – $20 million ($56.9 m)
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – $19.4 million (NEW) (My Review)
- The Adventures of Tintin – $16.1 million (NEW) (My Review)
- We Bought a Zoo – $15.6 million (NEW)
- War Horse – $15 million (NEW)
- The Darkest Hour – $5.5 million (NEW)
- New Year’s Eve – $4.9 million ($34.2 m)
- The Descendants – $3.4 million ($33.1 m) (My Review)