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Box Office: 'Mission: Impossible' sequel is No. 1 Christmas pick [Updated]

December 26, 2011 |  9:40 am

"Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol" was the No 1 film at the box office this weekend
Moviegoers chose to accept Tom Cruise's "Mission" at the box office this weekend.

"Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol," the fourth installment in the action franchise, grossed $46.2 million over the holiday period beginning Friday and ending Monday, according to an estimate from distributor Paramount Pictures. The movie -- budgeted at about $145 million -- debuted in limited release 11 days ago and has since racked up an impressive total of $78.6 million in ticket sales.

Warner Bros.' "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows," which opened last weekend, claimed the No. 2 spot. The $125-million production collected a soft $31.8 million over the long weekend, bringing its overall tally to $90.6 million. Twentieth Century Fox's $80-million "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked," which has also been in theaters for two weeks, came in with a disappointing $20 million. Both movies were expected to be big winners over the Christmas holiday, but each is so far lagging significantly behind their franchise predecessors in ticket sales.

David Fincher's highly anticipated "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" -- based on the first book in a trilogy of novels by Swedish author Stieg Larsson -- did decent business. The Sony Pictures movie opened Tuesday night, but grossed $19.4 million over the holiday weekend, raising its overall total to $27.7 million. The R-rated film had a budget of about $100 million, according to an individual close to the production, though a Sony spokesperson said the cost was $90 million.

Two new films directed by Steven Spielberg debuted to mixed results.

"The Adventures of Tintin," a 3-D animated family movie adapted from a popular Belgian comic book, did not prove exceptionally popular with American audiences. Although the film has been a hit overseas, so far collecting over $240 million abroad, it only grossed $16.1 million domestically this long weekend. Since opening on Wednesday, "Tintin," which cost Paramount and Sony between $150 million and $175 million to make, has sold $24.1 million worth of tickets. Paramount, which is releasing the film in the U.S. and Canada, is hopeful that the movie will follow in the footsteps of last Christmas' "Yogi Bear." That family flick ultimately grossed over $100 million domestically.

Meanwhile, Spielberg's epic "War Horse" fared better, debuting on Sunday and grossing $15 million in sales over two days. The film attracted an older audience, 31% of whom were over the age of 50. Those who saw the $70-million DreamWorks production liked it, assigning it an average grade of A-, according to market research firm CinemaScore.

Cameron Crowe's "We Bought a Zoo" earned an even better grade -- an A -- but moviegoers did not show up in as large numbers to see the family drama. The movie starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson, which cost Fox about $50 million to produce, opened on Friday and grossed $15.6 million through Monday. The film also appealed to an older demographic, as 59% of the crowd was age 25 or above, while 58% overall was female.

Of all the movies that opened over Christmas, the horror film "The Darkest Hour" was the least expensive, costing co-financiers Summit Entertainment and New Regency about $30 million to produce. That's good news, because it only grossed a weak $5.5 million over Sunday and Monday, and received a dismal C+ CinemaScore.

[Updated 1:45 p.m., Dec. 26: The "Mission: Impossible" sequel continued to soar overseas, grossing an additional $43 million from 45 foreign countries. The movie performed best in Korea and China, where it was No. 1 for the second weekend in a row. The film has now made about $24 million in each country respectively. Overall, the movie already has an international tally of $140 million. The third film in the franchise raked in over $260 million abroad in 2006, and it seems likely that the new fourth installment will far exceed that figure.

Here are the top 10 movies in the U.S. and Canada, based on their four-day grosses with exceptions as noted. Percentage drops are based on three-day grosses. International grosses are through Sunday only.

1."Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol" (Paramount/Skydance): $46.2 million on its second weekend, expanding from 425 theaters to 3,448 theaters. $43 million overseas in 45 foreign markets. Domestic total: $78.6 million. International total: $140 million.

2. "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" (Warner Bros.): $31.8 million on its second weekend, down 49%. $22.3 million overseas in 25 foreign markets. Domestic total: $90.6 million. International total: $46.1 million.

3. "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked" (Fox): $20 million on its second weekend, down 46%. $20.1 million overseas in 52 foreign markets. Domestic total: $56.9 million. International total: $42.1 million.

4. "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" (Sony): Opened to $19.4 million. $1.6 million overseas in five foreign markets. Domestic total: $27.7 million.

5. "The Adventures of Tintin" (Paramount/Sony): Opened to $16.1 million. Domestic total: $24.1 million.

6. "We Bought a Zoo" (Fox): Opened to $15.6 million. $1.1 million overseas in six foreign markets.

7. "War Horse" (Disney/DreamWorks): Opened on Sunday; two-day gross is $15 million.

8. "The Darkest Hour" (Summit/New Regency): Opened on Sunday; two-day gross is $5.5 million.

9. "New Year's Eve" (Warner Bros.): $3.3 million on its third weekend, down 55%. Domestic total: $34.2 million.

10. "The Descendants" (Fox Searchlight): $2.1 million on its sixth weekend, down 36%. Domestic total: $33.7 million.]

RELATED:

Big Christmas movie slate starts with "Sherlock," "Chipmunks"

Movie Projector: "Mission: Impossible" sequel to rule Christmas

Box Office: "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" has aggressive launch

-- Amy Kaufman
twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: Tom Cruise stars in "Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol." Credit: Paramount Pictures

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