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

December 21, 2011 | 12:20 pm

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo got off to a good start at the box office
David Fincher's highly anticipated take on the popular Swedish film "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," which has finally hit theaters, is already leaving its mark on moviegoers.

The movie, starring Rooney Mara, debuted in 2,700 theaters nationwide at 7 p.m. Tuesday and grossed a respectable $1.6 million, based on an estimate from distributor Sony Pictures. Those who saw the picture, based on the first novel in Swedish author Stieg Larsson's bestselling trilogy, loved it -- assigning it an average grade of A, according to market research firm CinemaScore.

Such positive word-of-mouth could provide a boost for the film over the Christmas holiday weekend, when a slew of other high-profile, big-budget releases are set to debut. The R-rated "Dragon Tattoo" may also now be in a closer-than-expected race with Warner Bros.' sequel "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" for the weekend's No. 2 spot.

The top ticket seller will likely be "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol," which has continued to  perform well since opening in limited release last week. The fourth installment in Paramount Pictures' Tom Cruise action franchise debuted on 425 Imax and other large-format screens Thursday evening but expanded to 2,400 theaters Tuesday night, collecting an additional $2 million.

Including grosses from Tuesday's existing screens, "Mission's" total for the day was $3.7 million. Overseas, where the movie is playing in about 40 countries, it has already grossed $85 million.

The latest "Mission" -- which has earned better reviews than the majority of films currently in the marketplace -- cost Paramount and co-financier Skydance Productions about $145 million to produce. "Dragon Tattoo" had a smaller budget of about $100 million, said an individual close to the production, although a studio spokesperson insisted the cost was actually $90 million.

After a lower-than-expected $39.6 million opening last weekend, the "Sherlock Holmes" sequel has done solid business this week. The movie grossed about $5 million on Monday and Tuesday, bringing its domestic total to $49.7 million so far.

Meanwhile, the Steven Spielberg-directed animated 3-D film "The Adventures of Tintin" debuts in American theaters Wednesday, almost two months after it opened. Because the film is based on a Belgian comic book popular in Europe, co-financiers Paramount and Sony decided to first open it abroad. The movie, which had a production budget of between $150 million and $170 million, has collected more than $240 million overseas to date and has yet to bow in Latin America or Australia.

Paramount, which is distributing the film in the U.S., is hopeful that "Tintin" will perform as well as or better than last Christmas' "Yogi Bear." That live action-animation hybrid started off slow, but ultimately ended up surpassing $100 million at the domestic box office.


Box office: Soft debuts for 'Sherlock,' 'Alvin' sequels

Movie review: 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' is too frigid

'Mission Impossible — Ghost Protocol' review: Cruise hits highs

-- Amy Kaufman

Photo: Rooney Mara stars in "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." Credit: Sony Pictures